There is a multitude of ecosystem service classifications available within the literature, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. Elements of them have been used to tailor a generic ecosystem service classification for the marine environment and then for a case study site within the North Sea: the Dogger Bank. Indicators for each of the ecosystem services, deemed relevant to the case study site, were identified. Each indicator was then assessed against a set of agreed criteria to ensure its relevance and applicability to environmental management. This paper identifies the need to distinguish between indicators of ecosystem services that are entirely ecological in nature (and largely reveal the potential of an ecosystem to provide ecosystem services), indicators for the ecological processes contributing to the delivery of these services, and indicators of benefits that reveal the realized human use or enjoyment of an ecosystem service. It highlights some of the difficulties faced in selecting meaningful indicators, such as problems of specificity, spatial disconnect and the considerable uncertainty about marine species, habitats and the processes, functions and services they contribute to.
Provision of broadly accessible and spatially referenced visualizations of the nature and rate of change in the Anthropocene is an essential tool in communicating to policy makers and to the wider public, who generally have little or no contact with academic publications and often rely on media-based information, to form and guide opinion. Three examples are used to demonstrate the use of geo-referenced data and GIS-based map compilations to provide accurate and widely accessible visual portrayals of historical processes. The first example shows the spread of Neolithic agriculture from Mesopotamia west and north across Europe over several millennia. The second plots the history of the drainage of the Fens (wetlands) in eastern England from the early seventeenth century onward. A third example illustrates one way in which releasing data in the public domain can lead to the enhancement of public data holdings. A concluding discussion outlines ways in which the methodology illustrated may be applied to processes key to understanding the Anthropocene.
Understanding changes in trophic group interactions following the implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs) is critical in understanding their success, or otherwise. A systematic review and meta-analysis was used to determine trends in the effects of MPAs on primary producers and herbivores from 57 locations throughout the world. On coral reefs, macroalgal coverage and sea urchin density were significantly (p<0.05p<0.05) lower within MPAs, with 79% and 83% of MPAs reporting smaller populations of these groups, respectively. Conversely, in kelp/algal habitats, where habitat-forming macroalgae are beneficial, no statistical differences were found in either algal coverage or herbivore density, however, 70% of MPAs reported lower densities of urchins. Finally, we found that the literature conveyed a significant negative relationship between grazer density effect sizes and macroalgal coverage effect sizes. Our results indicate that the tropho-dynamics of recovering fish populations in disparate habitats is likely to be more complex than initially thought, and partly driven by differential fisheries and habitat effects. This study highlights the importance of selecting MPAs based on the processes that assist in the recovery of ecosystems in the aftermath of fishing, in addition to habitat quality and representativeness.
Seascape ecology is an emerging discipline focused on understanding how features of the marine habitat influence the spatial distribution of marine species. However, there is still a gap in the development of concepts and techniques for its application in the marine pelagic realm, where there are no clear boundaries delimitating habitats. Here we demonstrate that pelagic seascape metrics defined as a combination of hydrographic variables and their spatial gradients calculated at an appropriate spatial scale, improve our ability to model pelagic fish distribution. We apply the analysis to study the spawning locations of two tuna species: Atlantic bluefin and bullet tuna. These two species represent a gradient in life history strategies. Bluefin tuna has a large body size and is a long-distant migrant, while bullet tuna has a small body size and lives year-round in coastal waters within the Mediterranean Sea. The results show that the models performance incorporating the proposed seascape metrics increases significantly when compared with models that do not consider these metrics. This improvement is more important for Atlantic bluefin, whose spawning ecology is dependent on the local oceanographic scenario, than it is for bullet tuna, which is less influenced by the hydrographic conditions. Our study advances our understanding of how species perceive their habitat and confirms that the spatial scale at which the seascape metrics provide information is related to the spawning ecology and life history strategy of each species.
The marine managed areas (MMAs) of the U.S. Caribbean are summarized and specific data-rich cases are examined to determine their impact upon fisheries management in the region. In this region, the productivity and connectivity of benthic habitats such as mangroves, seagrass and coral reefs is essential for many species targeted by fisheries. A minority of the 39 MMAs covering over 4000 km2 serve any detectable management or conservation function due to deficiencies in the design, objectives, compliance or enforcement. Fifty percent of the area within MMA boundaries had no-take regulations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, while Puerto Rico only had 3%. Six case studies are compared and contrasted to better understand the potential of these MMAs for fisheries management. Signs of success were associated with including sufficient areas of essential fish habitat (nursery, spawning and migration corridors), year-round no-take regulations, enforcement and isolation. These criteria have been identified as important in the conservation of marine resources, but little has been done to modify the way MMAs are designated and implemented in the region. Site-specific monitoring to measure the effects of these MMAs is needed to demonstrate the benefits to fisheries and gain local support for a greater use as a fisheries management tool.
As the number of marine protected areas (MPAs) increases globally, so does the need to assess if MPAs are meeting their management goals. Integral to this assessment is usually a long-term biological monitoring program, which can be difficult to develop for large and remote areas that have little available fine-scale habitat and biological data. This is the situation for many MPAs within the newly declared Australian Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR) network which covers approximately 3.1 million km2 of continental shelf, slope, and abyssal habitat, much of which is remote and difficult to access. A detailed inventory of the species, types of assemblages present and their spatial distribution within individual MPAs is required prior to developing monitoring programs to measure the impact of management strategies. Here we use a spatially-balanced survey design and non-extractive baited video observations to quantitatively document the fish assemblages within the continental shelf area (a multiple use zone, IUCN VI) of the Flinders Marine Reserve, within the Southeast marine region. We identified distinct demersal fish assemblages, quantified assemblage relationships with environmental gradients (primarily depth and habitat type), and described their spatial distribution across a variety of reef and sediment habitats. Baited videos recorded a range of species from multiple trophic levels, including species of commercial and recreational interest. The majority of species, whilst found commonly along the southern or south-eastern coasts of Australia, are endemic to Australia, highlighting the global significance of this region. Species richness was greater on habitats containing some reef and declined with increasing depth. The trophic breath of species in assemblages was also greater in shallow waters. We discuss the utility of our approach for establishing inventories when little prior knowledge is available and how such an approach may inform future monitoring efforts within the CMR network.
Nutrient load reductions are needed to improve the state of the Baltic Sea, but it is still under debate how they should be implemented. In this paper, we use data from an environmental valuation study conducted in all nine Baltic Sea states to investigate public preferences of relevance to three of the involved decision-dimensions: First, the roles of nitrogen versus phosphorus reductions causing different eutrophication effects; second, the role of time – the lag between actions to reduce nutrient loads and perceived improvements; and third; the spatial dimension and the roles of actions targeting the coastal and open sea environment and different sub-basins. Our findings indicate that respondents view and value the Baltic Sea environment as a whole, and are not focussed only on their local sea area, or a particular aspect of water quality. We argue that public preferences concerning these three perspectives should be one of the factors guiding marine policy. This requires considering the entire range of eutrophication effects, in coastal and open sea areas, and including long-term and short-term measures.
The dissolution of anthropogenically emitted excess carbon dioxide lowers the pH of the world's ocean water. The larvae of mass spawning marine fishes may be particularly vulnerable to such ocean acidification (OA), yet the generality of earlier results is unclear. Here we show the detrimental effects of OA on the development of a commercially important fish species, the Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus). Larvae were reared at three levels of CO2: today (0.0385 kPa), end of next century (0.183 kPa), and a coastal upwelling scenario (0.426 kPa), under near-natural conditions in large outdoor tanks. Exposure to elevated CO2 levels resulted in stunted growth and development, decreased condition, and severe tissue damage in many organs, with the degree of damage increasing with CO2 concentration. This complements earlier studies of OA on Atlantic cod larvae that revealed similar organ damage but at increased growth rates and no effect on condition.
Ocean acidification, often referred to as the “other CO2 problem”, is a direct result of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, cement production and other human activities. As atmospheric CO2 increases, more enters the ocean across the sea surface. This process has significant societal benefits: by absorbing around a quarter of the total human production of CO2, the ocean has substantively slowed climate change. But it also has less desirable consequences, since the dissolved CO2 affects seawater chemistry, with a succession of potentially adverse impacts on marine biodiversity, ecosystem services and human society.
The starting point for such changes is an increase in seawater acidity, resulting from the release of hydrogen ions (H+). Acidity is measured on the logarithmic pH scale, with H+ concentrations* at pH 7.0 being ten times greater than at pH 8.0. Since preindustrial times, the mean pH in the surface ocean has dropped by 0.1 units, a linear-scale increase in acidity of ~26%. Unless CO2 emissions are rapidly curtailed, mean surface pH is projected – with a high degree of certainty – to fall by a further ~0.3 units by 2100, representing an acidity increase of around 170% compared to pre-industrial levels. The actual change will depend on future CO2 emissions, with both regional and local variations in the oceanic response (Chapter 3).
Very many scientific studies in the past decade have unequivocally shown that a wide range of marine organisms are sensitive to pH changes of such magnitude, affecting their physiology, fitness and survival, mostly (but not always) in a negative way. The consequences of ocean acidification for marine food webs, ecosystems, biogeochemistry and the human use of marine resources are, however, much less certain. In particular, ocean acidification is not the only environmental change that organisms will experience in future, since it will occur in combination with other stressors (e.g., increasing temperature and deoxygenation). The biological effects of multiple stressors occurring together cannot be assumed to be additive; instead, due to interactions, their combined impacts may be amplified (through synergism) or diminished (antagonism). Furthermore, there is now evidence that some – but not necessarily all – organisms may show genetically mediated, adaptive responses to ocean acidification.
This review provides an updated synthesis of the impacts of ocean acidification on marine biodiversity based upon current literature, including emerging research on the geological history of natural ocean acidification events, and the projected societal costs of future acidification. The report takes into consideration comments and feedback submitted by Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, other Governments and organizations as well as experts who kindly peer-reviewed the report.
The manual outlines the rationale and project design for measuring blue carbon in the field and approaches for data analysis and reporting. Effort was made to ensure consistency with international standards, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines, and other relevant sourcebooks.
The manual is structured as follows:
Chapter 1: Introduces the role of blue carbon in climate change mitigation and outlines the manual’s purpose and objectives;
Chapter 2: Outlines the main steps to prepare a robust field measurement plan;
Chapter 3: Provides protocols and guidance for measuring organic carbon stocks found in the soils of all three ecosystems;
Chapter 4: Provides protocols and guidance for measuring organic carbon stocks, found in above- and belowground biomass, with specific protocols designed for each ecosystem;
Chapter 5: H ighlights methods for determining the changes in carbon stocks over time and monitoring greenhouse gas emissions;
Chapter 6: G ives an overview of remote sensing options and applications;
Chapter 7: Provides guidance on managing large data sets and data sharing; and
Appendices: T here are several appendices; they contain supplementary information, worked through examples, lists of equations, and more.