2015-02-25

Task Force to Study the Impact of Ocean Acidification on State Waters: Report to the Governor and the Maryland General Assembly

Anon. Task Force to Study the Impact of Ocean Acidification on State Waters: Report to the Governor and the Maryland General Assembly. Annapolis: State of Maryland; 2015 p. 46. Available from: http://mddnr.chesapeakebay.net/mdoatf/documents/MDOATF_report_20150109.pdf
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

The Task Force to Study the Impact of Ocean Acidification on State Waters was formed by the Maryland General Assembly during its 2014 session through House Bill 118 (http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2014RS/bills/hb/hb0118e.pdf). The bill states, “The Task Force shall: analyze the best available science regarding ocean acidification and the potential effects of acidification on the ecology of State waters and on State fisheries; and make recommendations regarding potential strategies to mitigate the effects of acidification on State waters and on State fisheries.”

Beginning July 2014, the Task Force comprised of representatives from the Maryland Senate, the Maryland House of Delegates, the National Aquarium, the Aquaculture Industry, the Maryland Watermen’s Association, the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Environment (MDE), the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and several outside experts and interested stakeholders met on a monthly basis to evaluate the basic science and problems of acidification in Maryland waters. Much is known about the ocean becoming more acidic from increased introduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, and the importance of upwelling events in the coastal ocean off of Washington State that have impacted the success of shellfish aquaculture facilities. Much less is known about the more complex acidification processes in shallow estuarine environments like Maryland’s Chesapeake and Coastal Bays, which are highly sensitive to terrestrial inputs, and the potential impacts that may be posed to the aquaculture industry and important fisheries such as oysters, crabs, striped bass, and other aquatic resources.

The information gaps to understanding the impacts of acidification in Maryland’s waters are large. Key findings from Maryland’s Task Force focus on seven areas that should be addressed in order to enhance our acidification understanding, its impacts to Maryland aquatic industries, and to leverage resources to capitalize on federal and other state acidification research and monitoring programs.

Pathways of Effects for Shipping: An Overview

Anon. Pathways of Effects for Shipping: An Overview. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada; 2015 p. 9. Available from: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/csas-sccs/Publications/SAR-AS/2014/2014_059-eng.html
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report
  • This science advisory report is intended to provide general advice on how shipping activities may potentially impact the marine and freshwater environment. The Pathways of Effects (PoE) models included in this report are general and simply illustrate linkages that may not be universally applicable.  The potential impacts of shipping can be widespread or localised, and may be chronic or acute.
  • The PoE components included in this report (i.e., movement underway, discharge, oil spills, anchoring, and grounding) are independent of time and space constraints, and do not address the frequency, likelihood of occurrence, nor magnitude of potential impact(s) on an ecosystem.  In no way should this advice or the PoE components be interpreted as risk or threat assessments.
  • A suite of stressors resulting from movement underway (i.e. water mixing, substrate disturbance, noise emissions, icebreaking, strikes, wake, and light emission) may lead to changes in habitat, community structure, and the health (fitness) and survival (mortality) of organisms.
  • Operational and incidental or accidental discharges associated with shipping can result in the discharge of aquatic invasive species, debris, oils and other aquatic or atmospheric contaminants, and nutrients (e.g., via grey water, sewage). Such discharges can result in changes to habitat, community structure, the fitness, mortality, and/or function of aquatic organisms.
  • Oil spills are one of the most damaging events in the aquatic environment, affecting multiple species and habitats.  Spill recovery measures are often largely ineffective and long-term chronic ecosystem effects often result.
  • Anchoring may create vertical obstructions in the water column and/or may result in substantial changes to the substrate composition and structure resulting from crushing and/or sediment re-suspension.  Changes to the substrate as a result of anchoring may alter benthic habitats and may result in sub-lethal impacts or an increase in mortality of benthic organisms.
  • Vessel grounding can affect the substrate, habitat, and benthic organisms. Groundings are more likely near shore when approaching ports but could also occur offshore (e.g., where shallow seamounts or ridges are located).
  • The environmental effects of shipping are multifaceted, with potential consequences on all structures and components of the ecosystem.  As such, PoE models can be strongly inter-related leading to linkages at various levels. However, given many of the linkages have limited documentation of varying quality and quantity, predicting the PoEs can be challenging. The PoE components included in this report were developed based on the current state of knowledge with many potential linkages remaining to be thoroughly quantified.

Establishing marine protected areas through bottom-up processes: insights from two contrasting initiatives in Chile

Oyanedel R, Marín A, Castilla JCarlos, Gelcich S. Establishing marine protected areas through bottom-up processes: insights from two contrasting initiatives in Chile. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems [Internet]. 2015 . Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aqc.2546/abstract
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article
  1. Bottom-up participatory processes to create and manage no-take marine protected areas have been proposed as a way to scale-up marine conservation and deal with the lack of support and compliance of top-down conservation approaches. However, bottom-up conservation does not always lead to positive outcomes, thus it is increasingly important to understand the conditions that determine the establishment and implementation of these initiatives.
  2. Establishment and implementation processes were compared empirically for two contrasting bottom-up no-take marine protected areas that have been developing under the same political setting, however, one has been successful and the other has stalled.
  3. Using mixed methods, stakeholders' (a) motivations to participate in the no-take marine protected area initiatives, (b) communication, support and information flow networks, (c) perceived participation, and (d) satisfaction with the establishment process of the bottom-up no-take marine protected areas, were assessed.
  4. Non-significant differences were found between the two initiatives in terms of stakeholders' motivations to create a no-take marine protected area.
  5. Significant differences were found in stakeholders' communication, support and information flow networks, in addition to differences in participation, and satisfaction with the establishment and implementation process.
  6. Results highlight that for the implementation and consolidation of bottom-up no-take marine protected areas initiatives, common interests do not necessarily lead to common action, partnerships will not emerge automatically in response to potential benefits.
  7. Understanding disparities in participation, information sharing and communication are key aspects which must be considered for creating and supporting successful marine protected areas based on bottom-up participatory processes.

EwE-F 1.0: an implementation of Ecopath with Ecosim in Fortran 95/2003 for coupling

Akoglu E, Libralato S, Salihoglu B, Oguz T, Solidoro C. EwE-F 1.0: an implementation of Ecopath with Ecosim in Fortran 95/2003 for coupling. Geoscientific Model Development Discussions [Internet]. 2015 ;8(2):1511 - 1537. Available from: http://www.geosci-model-dev-discuss.net/8/1511/2015/gmdd-8-1511-2015.html
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Societal and scientific challenges foster the implementation of the ecosystem approach to marine ecosystem analysis and management, which is a comprehensive means of integrating the direct and indirect effects of multiple stressors on the different components of ecosystems, from physical to chemical and biological and from viruses to fishes and marine mammals. Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) is a widely used software package, which offers great capability for a dynamic description of the multiple interactions occurring within a food web, and potentially, a crucial component of an integrated platform supporting the ecosystem approach. However, being written for the Microsoft .NET framework, seamless integration of this code with Fortran-based physical oceanographic and/or biogeochemical models is technically not straightforward. In this work we release a re-coding of EwE in Fortran (EwE-F). We believe that the availability of a Fortran version of EwE is an important step towards setting-up integrated end-to-end (E2E) modelling schemes utilising this widely adopted software because it (i) increases portability of the EwE models, (ii) provides greater flexibility towards integrating EwE with Fortran-based modelling schemes. Furthermore, EwE-F might help modellers using Fortran programming language to get close to the EwE approach. In the present work, first the fundamentals of EwE-F are introduced, followed by validation of EwE-F against standard EwE utilising sample models. Afterwards, an E2E ecological representation of the Trieste Gulf (Northern Adriatic Sea) ecosystem is presented as an example of online two-way coupling between an EwE-F food web model and a biogeochemical model. Finally, the possibilities that having EwE-F opens up for are discussed.

Ocean zoning for conservation, fisheries and marine renewable energy: Assessing trade-offs and co-location opportunities

Yates KL, Schoeman DS, Klein CJ. Ocean zoning for conservation, fisheries and marine renewable energy: Assessing trade-offs and co-location opportunities. Journal of Environmental Management [Internet]. 2015 ;152:201 - 209. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479715000614
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Oceans, particularly coastal areas, are getting busier and within this increasingly human-dominated seascape, marine biodiversity continues to decline. Attempts to maintain and restore marine biodiversity are becoming more spatial, principally through the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs). MPAs compete for space with other uses, and the emergence of new industries, such as marine renewable energy generation, will increase competition for space. Decision makers require guidance on how to zone the ocean to conserve biodiversity, mitigate conflict and accommodate multiple uses. Here we used empirical data and freely available planning software to identified priority areas for multiple ocean zones, which incorporate goals for biodiversity conservation, two types of renewable energy, and three types of fishing. We developed an approached to evaluate trade-offs between industries and we investigated the impacts of co-locating some fishing activities within renewable energy sites. We observed non-linear trade-offs between industries. We also found that different subsectors within those industries experienced very different trade-off curves. Incorporating co-location resulted in significant reductions in cost to the fishing industry, including fisheries that were not co-located. Co-location also altered the optimal location of renewable energy zones with planning solutions. Our findings have broad implications for ocean zoning and marine spatial planning. In particular, they highlight the need to include industry subsectors when assessing trade-offs and they stress the importance of considering co-location opportunities from the outset. Our research reinforces the need for multi-industry ocean-zoning and demonstrates how it can be undertaken within the framework of strategic conservation planning.

Making decisions for managing ecosystem services

Martinez-Harms MJose, Bryan BA, Balvanera P, Law EA, Rhodes JR, Possingham HP, Wilson KA. Making decisions for managing ecosystem services. Biological Conservation [Internet]. 2015 ;184:229 - 238. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320715000452#
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Numerous assessments have quantified, mapped, and valued the services provided by ecosystems that are important for human wellbeing. However, much of the literature does not clarify how the information gathered in such assessments could be used to inform decisions that will impact ecosystem services. We propose that the process of making management decisions for ecosystem services comprises five core steps: identification of the problem and its social–ecological context; specification of objectives and associated performance measures; defining alternative management actions and evaluating the consequences of these actions; assessment of trade-offs and prioritization of alternative management actions; and making management decisions. We synthesize the degree to which the peer-reviewed ecosystem services literature has captured these steps. For the ecosystem service paradigm to gain traction in science and policy arenas, future ecosystem service assessments should have clearly articulated objectives, seek to evaluate the consequences of alternative management actions, and facilitate closer engagement between scientists and stakeholders.

The Orinoco megadelta as a conservation target in the face of the ongoing and future sea level rise

Vegas-Vilarrúbia T, Hernández E, Rull V, Vegas ERull. The Orinoco megadelta as a conservation target in the face of the ongoing and future sea level rise. Science of The Total Environment [Internet]. 2015 ;515-516:129 - 142. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969715000716
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Currently, risk assessments related to rising sea levels and the adoption of defensive or adaptive measures to counter these sea level increases are underway for densely populated deltas where economic losses might be important, especially in the developed world. However, many underpopulated deltas harbouring high biological and cultural diversity are also at risk but will most likely continue to be ignored as conservation targets. In this study, we explore the potential effects of erosion, inundation and salinisation on one of the world's comparatively underpopulated megadeltas, the Orinoco Delta. With a 1 m sea level rise expected to occur by 2100, several models predict a moderate erosion of the delta's shorelines, migration or loss of mangroves, general inundation of the delta with an accompanying submersion of wetlands, and an increase in the distance to which sea water intrudes into streams, resulting in harm to the freshwater biota and resources. The Warao people are the indigenous inhabitants of the Orinoco Delta and currently are subject to various socioeconomic stressors. Changes due to sea level rise will occur extremely rapidly and cause abrupt shifts in the Warao's traditional environments and resources, resulting in migrations and abandonment of their ancestral territories. However, evidence indicates that deltaic aggradation/accretion processes at the Orinoco delta due to allochthonous sediment input and vegetation growth could be elevating the surface of the land, keeping pace with the local sea level rise. Other underpopulated and large deltas of the world also may risk immeasurable biodiversity and cultural losses and should not be forgotten as important conservation targets.

Random forests to evaluate biotic interactions in fish distribution models

Vezza P, Muñoz-Mas R, Martinez-Capel F, Mouton A. Random forests to evaluate biotic interactions in fish distribution models. Environmental Modelling & Software [Internet]. 2015 ;67:173 - 183. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364815215000249
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Previous research indicated that high predictive performance in species distribution modelling can be obtained by combining both biotic and abiotic habitat variables. However, models developed for fish often only address physical habitat characteristics, thus omitting potentially important biotic factors. Therefore, we assessed the impact of biotic variables on fish habitat preferences in four selected stretches of the upper Cabriel River (E Spain). The occurrence of Squalius pyrenaicus and Luciobarbus guiraonis was related to environmental variables describing biotic interactions (inferred by relationships among fish abundances) and channel hydro-morphological characteristics. Random Forests (RF) models were trained and then validated using independent datasets. To build RF models, the conditional variable importance was used together with the model improvement ratio technique. The procedure showed effectiveness in identifying a parsimonious set of not correlated variables, which minimize noise and improve model performance in both training and validation phases. Water depth, channel width, fine substrate and water-surface gradient were selected as most important habitat variables for both fish. Results showed clear habitat overlapping between fish species and suggest that competition is not a strong factor in the study area.

A rapid indicator of cultural ecosystem service usage at a fine spatial scale: Content analysis of social media photographs

Richards DR, Friess DA. A rapid indicator of cultural ecosystem service usage at a fine spatial scale: Content analysis of social media photographs. Ecological Indicators [Internet]. 2015 ;53:187 - 195. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X15000588
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Cultural ecosystem services (CES) are an important benefit that habitats provide, particularly in the fragments of natural ecosystems that remain in urban areas. To manage CES we need to understand what people use habitats for, and where different activities take place. It is challenging to assess CES provision, as surveys and interviews are time consuming and can be expensive. Social media data, particularly geo-tagged photographs, are spatially explicit and contain visual information that can be used to infer cultural use. Indicators of CES derived from social media make use of existing data so may contribute useful information for rapid, cost-effective assessments of CES. In this study we develop an indicator of CES usage that is derived from photographs from an image-sharing website, at two different scales. First, we compare four small (<150 ha) urban mangrove sites in Singapore, using photograph content to classify sites according to predominant cultural use. Second, the spatial distribution of different CES was modelled within one site using MaxEnt. A resampling simulation was conducted to identify the sensitivity of the photograph classification to the number of photographs classified. Photographs of social recreation, organisms and landscapes occurred most commonly. The proportional occurrence of photograph types differed between sites depending on their characteristics. Within one site, the probability of occurrence of social recreation photographs was highest around built focal points, while photographs of organisms were more likely in the mangrove and terrestrial habitats. Classifying more than 50–70 photographs (which would take approximately 30 minutes) gave only small increases in categorisation accuracy. This tool for CES assessment rapidly provided information that would be useful for managing Singapore's mangroves. The approach could be widely applied to assess CES provision across a range of habitats and settings, helping CES to become more commonly considered in ecosystem service evaluations.

Development of an estuarine climate change monitoring program

Barrett J, Rose JM, Pagach J, Parker M, Deonarine S. Development of an estuarine climate change monitoring program. Ecological Indicators [Internet]. 2015 ;53:182 - 186. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X15000631
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Numerous coastal and estuarine management programs around the world are developing strategies for climate change and priorities for climate change adaptation. A multi-state work group collaborated with scientists, researchers, resource managers and non-governmental organizations to develop a monitoring program that would provide warning of climate change impacts to the Long Island Sound estuarine and coastal ecosystems. The goal of this program was to facilitate timely management decisions and adaptation responses to climate change impacts. A novel approach is described for strategic planning that combines available regional-scale predictions and climate drivers (top down) with local monitoring information (bottom up) to identify candidate sentinels of climate change. Using this approach, 37 candidate sentinels of climate change were identified as well as a suite of core abiotic parameters that are drivers of environmental change. A process for prioritizing sentinels was developed and identified six of high priority for inclusion in pilot-scale monitoring programs. A monitoring strategy and an online sentinel data clearinghouse were developed. The work and processes presented here are meant to serve as a guide to other coastal and estuarine management programs seeking to establish a targeted monitoring program for climate change and to provide a set of “lessons learned.”

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