2014-10-15

Marine protected Areas of the U.S. Virgin Islands: Ecological Performance Report

Pittman SJ, Bauer L, Hile SD, Jeffrey CFG, Davenport E, Caldow C. Marine protected Areas of the U.S. Virgin Islands: Ecological Performance Report. Silver Spring, MD: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science; 2014 p. 89. Available from: http://www2.coastalscience.noaa.gov/publications/detail.aspx?resource=ZeQsddXPOr46G6cQSJ/7dpq5btwvL4fTOkV6BTCg/a8=
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

This document presents a comprehensive overview of results from more than a decade of work by the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) Biogeography Branch and the Department of the Interior National Park Service (NPS) to assess status and trends within and around federally managed marine protected areas (MPAs) of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).

The report provides: (1) an overview of the history of MPAs, types of MPAs and associated regulations, and a list of all MPAs in the USVI; (2) an ecological performance report for three intensively surveyed MPA units managed by NPS, including 20 biological metrics for fish and benthic habitat; (3) sightings of large-bodied fishes with moderate to high vulnerability to fishing; and (4) synthesis, summary and recommendations for management.

This report is the first time that an assessment of ecological performance has been conducted for MPAs in the USVI. A decade of underwater surveys was analyzed to detect trends on coral reefs inside MPAs and for a similar range of habitats outside of MPAs. The information, data synthesis, interpretation and recommendations are intended to help focus management actions and goal setting, inform outreach products and adjust expectations regarding ecological performance for MPAs in the region. The data presented here provide important baselines required for tracking MPA performance through future monitoring efforts.

A place to live and fish: Relational place making among the trawl fishers of Palk Bay, India

Stephen J. A place to live and fish: Relational place making among the trawl fishers of Palk Bay, India. Ocean & Coastal Management [Internet]. 2014 ;102, Part A:224 - 233. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0964569114002920
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

In Palk Bay (India), fishing is intrinsically tied to a complex and dynamic geo-political situation. The trawl fishers from India are finding it increasingly difficult to operate in the bay due to the strict enforcement of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) by the Sri Lanka Navy and the increasing animosity of the small scale gill netters of Northern Sri Lanka, who accuse the Indian trawlers of encroaching and destroying their livelihood. In the multi-scalar nature of this conflict, it is easy for policy makers and researchers to get distracted by processes happening at different scales (regional, national) thereby ignoring the local processes that shape everyday fishing. By analysing the everyday lives and lived places of the fishers in the two trawl centres of Rameswaram and Mandapam, this article exclusively focusses on the scale of the local. A closer look at these centres, located in close proximity to each other, reveals substantial differences in the way fisheries are managed. The objective of this paper is to understand how one of these centres is able to manage its fleet better (better price for fishes, lower discards and higher compliance) than the other, increasing understanding of the dynamics of resource usage in Palk Bay to give clues for possible solutions. Through the ethnographic method, the research uses the concept of relational place making in analysing local fishery resource usage. By dialectically analysing the various social, political and economic processes both on land and at sea in each these centres, I conclude that the differences in management between them are an outcome of a series of complex interactions between several processes. Based on my analysis, I argue that the mismanagement of the Rameswaram fleet and the better managed Mandapam fleet cannot be attributed only to the relative strength of the institutional set up on land but should also take into consideration the conditions at sea. Thus, managing a complex fishery system requires a better understanding of the interaction of various processes that happen at different places of concern to the everyday lives of the fishers, moving beyond the limited narrow focus of several place based studies which focus on a singular place, social group and scale.

Modelling of ship engine exhaust emissions in ports and extensive coastal waters based on terrestrial AIS data – An Australian case study

Goldsworthy L, Goldsworthy B. Modelling of ship engine exhaust emissions in ports and extensive coastal waters based on terrestrial AIS data – An Australian case study. Environmental Modelling & Software [Internet]. 2015 ;63:45 - 60. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S136481521400262X
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

A model is developed to calculate and spatially allocate ship engine exhaust emissions in ports and extensive coastal waters using terrestrial Automatic Identification System data for ship movements and operating modes. The model is applied to the Australian region. The large geographical extent and number of included ports and vessels, and anomalies in the AIS data are challenging. Particular attention is paid to filtering of the movement data to remove anomalies and assign correct operating modes. Data gaps are filled by interpolation and extrapolation. Emissions and fuel consumption are calculated for each individual vessel at frequent intervals and categorised by ship type, ship size, operating mode and machinery type. Comparisons of calculated port emissions with conventional inventories and ship visit data are favourable. Estimations of ship emissions from regions within a 300 km radius of major capital cities suggest that a non-negligible percentage of air pollutants may come from ships.

An overview of methods to evaluate uncertainty of deterministic models in decision support

Uusitalo L, Lehikoinen A, Helle I, Myrberg K. An overview of methods to evaluate uncertainty of deterministic models in decision support. Environmental Modelling & Software [Internet]. 2015 ;63:24 - 31. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364815214002813
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

There is an increasing need for environmental management advice that is wide-scoped, covering various interlinked policies, and realistic about the uncertainties related to the possible management actions. To achieve this, efficient decision support integrates the results of pre-existing models. Many environmental models are deterministic, but the uncertainty of their outcomes needs to be estimated when they are utilized for decision support. We review various methods that have been or could be applied to evaluate the uncertainty related to deterministic models' outputs. We cover expert judgement, model emulation, sensitivity analysis, temporal and spatial variability in the model outputs, the use of multiple models, and statistical approaches, and evaluate when these methods are appropriate and what must be taken into account when utilizing them. The best way to evaluate the uncertainty depends on the definitions of the source models and the amount and quality of information available to the modeller.

Sources, impacts and trends of pharmaceuticals in the marine and coastal environment

Gaw S, Thomas KV, Hutchinson TH. Sources, impacts and trends of pharmaceuticals in the marine and coastal environment. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences [Internet]. 2014 ;369(1656). Available from: http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1656/20130572.abstract
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

There has been a significant investment in research to define exposures and potential hazards of pharmaceuticals in freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. A substantial number of integrated environmental risk assessments have been developed in Europe, North America and many other regions for these situations. In contrast, comparatively few empirical studies have been conducted for human and veterinary pharmaceuticals that are likely to enter coastal and marine ecosystems. This is a critical knowledge gap given the significant increase in coastal human populations around the globe and the growth of coastal megacities, together with the increasing importance of coastal aquaculture around the world. There is increasing evidence that pharmaceuticals are present and are impacting on marine and coastal environments. This paper reviews the sources, impacts and concentrations of pharmaceuticals in marine and coastal environments to identify knowledge gaps and suggests focused case studies as a priority for future research.

Diatom Cell Size, Coloniality and Motility: Trade-Offs between Temperature, Salinity and Nutrient Supply with Climate Change

Svensson F, Norberg J, Snoeijs P. Diatom Cell Size, Coloniality and Motility: Trade-Offs between Temperature, Salinity and Nutrient Supply with Climate Change Humphries S. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2014 ;9(10):e109993. Available from: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0109993
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Reduction in body size has been proposed as a universal response of organisms, both to warming and to decreased salinity. However, it is still controversial if size reduction is caused by temperature or salinity on their own, or if other factors interfere as well. We used natural benthic diatom communities to explore how “body size” (cells and colonies) and motility change along temperature (2–26°C) and salinity (0.5–7.8) gradients in the brackish Baltic Sea. Fourth-corner analysis confirmed that small cell and colony sizes were associated with high temperature in summer. Average community cell volume decreased linearly with 2.2% per °C. However, cells were larger with artificial warming when nutrient concentrations were high in the cold season. Average community cell volume increased by 5.2% per °C of artificial warming from 0 to 8.5°C and simultaneously there was a selection for motility, which probably helped to optimize growth rates by trade-offs between nutrient supply and irradiation. Along the Baltic Sea salinity gradient cell size decreased with decreasing salinity, apparently mediated by nutrient stoichiometry. Altogether, our results suggest that climate change in this century may polarize seasonality by creating two new niches, with elevated temperature at high nutrient concentrations in the cold season (increasing cell size) and elevated temperature at low nutrient concentrations in the warm season (decreasing cell size). Higher temperature in summer and lower salinity by increased land-runoff are expected to decrease the average cell size of primary producers, which is likely to affect the transfer of energy to higher trophic levels.

Comparing Bacterial Community Composition of Healthy and Dark Spot-Affected Siderastrea siderea in Florida and the Caribbean

Kellogg CA, Piceno YM, Tom LM, DeSantis TZ, Gray MA, Andersen GL. Comparing Bacterial Community Composition of Healthy and Dark Spot-Affected Siderastrea siderea in Florida and the Caribbean Mormile MR. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2014 ;9(10):e108767. Available from: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0108767
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Coral disease is one of the major causes of reef degradation. Dark Spot Syndrome (DSS) was described in the early 1990's as brown or purple amorphous areas of tissue on a coral and has since become one of the most prevalent diseases reported on Caribbean reefs. It has been identified in a number of coral species, but there is debate as to whether it is in fact the same disease in different corals. Further, it is questioned whether these macroscopic signs are in fact diagnostic of an infectious disease at all. The most commonly affected species in the Caribbean is the massive starlet coral Siderastrea siderea. We sampled this species in two locations, Dry Tortugas National Park and Virgin Islands National Park. Tissue biopsies were collected from both healthy colonies and those with dark spot lesions. Microbial-community DNA was extracted from coral samples (mucus, tissue, and skeleton), amplified using bacterial-specific primers, and applied to PhyloChip G3 microarrays to examine the bacterial diversity associated with this coral. Samples were also screened for the presence of a fungal ribotype that has recently been implicated as a causative agent of DSS in another coral species, but the amplifications were unsuccessful. S. siderea samples did not cluster consistently based on health state (i.e., normal versus dark spot). Various bacteria, including Cyanobacteria and Vibrios, were observed to have increased relative abundance in the discolored tissue, but the patterns were not consistent across all DSS samples. Overall, our findings do not support the hypothesis that DSS in S. siderea is linked to a bacterial pathogen or pathogens. This dataset provides the most comprehensive overview to date of the bacterial community associated with the scleractinian coral S. siderea.

Kernel Density Surface Modelling as a Means to Identify Significant Concentrations of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem Indicators

Kenchington E, Murillo FJavier, Lirette C, Sacau M, Koen-Alonso M, Kenny A, Ollerhead N, Wareham V, Beazley L. Kernel Density Surface Modelling as a Means to Identify Significant Concentrations of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem Indicators Thrush S. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2014 ;9(10):e109365. Available from: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0109365
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 61/105, concerning sustainable fisheries in the marine ecosystem, calls for the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VME) from destructive fishing practices. Subsequently, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) produced guidelines for identification of VME indicator species/taxa to assist in the implementation of the resolution, but recommended the development of case-specific operational definitions for their application. We applied kernel density estimation (KDE) to research vessel trawl survey data from inside the fishing footprint of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Regulatory Area in the high seas of the northwest Atlantic to create biomass density surfaces for four VME indicator taxa: large-sized sponges, sea pens, small and large gorgonian corals. These VME indicator taxa were identified previously by NAFO using the fragility, life history characteristics and structural complexity criteria presented by FAO, along with an evaluation of their recovery trajectories. KDE, a non-parametric neighbour-based smoothing function, has been used previously in ecology to identify hotspots, that is, areas of relatively high biomass/abundance. We present a novel approach of examining relative changes in area under polygons created from encircling successive biomass categories on the KDE surface to identify “significant concentrations” of biomass, which we equate to VMEs. This allows identification of the VMEs from the broader distribution of the species in the study area. We provide independent assessments of the VMEs so identified using underwater images, benthic sampling with other gear types (dredges, cores), and/or published species distribution models of probability of occurrence, as available. For each VME indicator taxon we provide a brief review of their ecological function which will be important in future assessments of significant adverse impact on these habitats here and elsewhere.

Coral Reefs on the Edge? Carbon Chemistry on Inshore Reefs of the Great Barrier Reef

Uthicke S, Furnas M, Lønborg C. Coral Reefs on the Edge? Carbon Chemistry on Inshore Reefs of the Great Barrier Reef Kellogg CA. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2014 ;9(10):e109092. Available from: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0109092
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

While increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration alters global water chemistry (Ocean Acidification; OA), the degree of changes vary on local and regional spatial scales. Inshore fringing coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) are subjected to a variety of local pressures, and some sites may already be marginal habitats for corals. The spatial and temporal variation in directly measured parameters: Total Alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentration, and derived parameters: partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2); pH and aragonite saturation state (Ωar) were measured at 14 inshore reefs over a two year period in the GBR region. Total Alkalinity varied between 2069 and 2364 µmol kg−1 and DIC concentrations ranged from 1846 to 2099 µmol kg−1. This resulted in pCO2 concentrations from 340 to 554 µatm, with higher values during the wet seasons and pCO2 on inshore reefs distinctly above atmospheric values. However, due to temperature effects, Ωar was not further reduced in the wet season. Aragonite saturation on inshore reefs was consistently lower and pCO2 higher than on GBR reefs further offshore. Thermodynamic effects contribute to this, and anthropogenic runoff may also contribute by altering productivity (P), respiration (R) and P/R ratios. Compared to surveys 18 and 30 years ago, pCO2 on GBR mid- and outer-shelf reefs has risen at the same rate as atmospheric values (~1.7 µatm yr−1) over 30 years. By contrast, values on inshore reefs have increased at 2.5 to 3 times higher rates. Thus, pCO2 levels on inshore reefs have disproportionately increased compared to atmospheric levels. Our study suggests that inshore GBR reefs are more vulnerable to OA and have less buffering capacity compared to offshore reefs. This may be caused by anthropogenically induced trophic changes in the water column and benthos of inshore reefs subjected to land runoff.

Residency Patterns and Migration Dynamics of Adult Bull Sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) on the East Coast of Southern Africa

Daly R, Smale MJ, Cowley PD, Froneman PW. Residency Patterns and Migration Dynamics of Adult Bull Sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) on the East Coast of Southern Africa. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2014 ;9(10):e109357. Available from: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0109357
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) are globally distributed top predators that play an important ecological role within coastal marine communities. However, little is known about the spatial and temporal scales of their habitat use and associated ecological role. In this study, we employed passive acoustic telemetry to investigate the residency patterns and migration dynamics of 18 adult bull sharks (195–283 cm total length) tagged in southern Mozambique for a period of between 10 and 22 months. The majority of sharks (n = 16) exhibited temporally and spatially variable residency patterns interspersed with migration events. Ten individuals undertook coastal migrations that ranged between 433 and 709 km (mean = 533 km) with eight of these sharks returning to the study site. During migration, individuals exhibited rates of movement between 2 and 59 km.d−1 (mean = 17.58 km.d−1) and were recorded travelling annual distances of between 450 and 3760 km (mean = 1163 km). Migration towards lower latitudes primarily took place in austral spring and winter and there was a significant negative correlation between residency and mean monthly sea temperature at the study site. This suggested that seasonal change is the primary driver behind migration events but further investigation is required to assess how foraging and reproductive activity may influence residency patterns and migration. Results from this study highlight the need for further understanding of bull shark migration dynamics and suggest that effective conservation strategies for this vulnerable species necessitate the incorporation of congruent trans-boundary policies over large spatial scales.

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