The concept of spatial resilience has brought a new focus on the influence of multi-scale processes on the dynamics of ecosystems. Initial ideas about spatial resilience focused on coral reefs and emphasized escalating anthropogenic disturbances across the broader seascape. This perspective resonated with a new awareness of global drivers of change, such as growth in international trade and shifts in climate, and the need to respond by scaling up governance and management. We review recent trends and emerging ideas in spatial resilience, using coral reefs and dependent communities as exemplars of multi-scale social–ecological systems. Despite recent advances, management and governance of ecosystems remain spatially fragmented and constrained to small scales. Temporally, many interventions still miss or ignore warning signals and struggle to cope with history, politics, long-term cumulative pressures, feedbacks, and sudden surprises. Significant recent progress has been made in understanding the relevance of spatial and temporal scale, heterogeneity, networks, the importance of place, and multi-scale governance. Emerging themes include better integration of ecology and conservation with social and economic science, and incorporating temporal dynamics in spatial analyses. A better understanding of the multi-scale spatial and temporal processes that drive the resilience of linked social-ecosystems will help address the widespread mismatch between the scales of ongoing ecological change and effective long-term governance of land- and seascapes.
Multiple lines of observational evidence indicate that the global climate has been getting warmer since the early 20th century. This warmer climate has led to a global mean sea level rise of about 18 cm during the 20th century, and over 6 cm for the first 15 years of the 21st century. Regionally the sea level rise is not uniform due in large part to internal climate variability. To better serve the community, the uncertainties of predicting/projecting regional sea level changes associated with internal climate variability need to be quantified. Previous research on this topic has used single-model large ensembles with perturbed atmospheric initial conditions (ICs). Here we compare uncertainties associated with perturbing ICs in just the atmosphere and just the ocean using a state-of-the-art coupled climate model. We find that by perturbing the oceanic ICs, the uncertainties in regional sea level changes increase compared to those with perturbed atmospheric ICs. Thus, in order for us to better assess the full spectrum of the impacts of such internal climate variability on regional and global sea level rise, approaches that involve perturbing both atmospheric and oceanic initial conditions are necessary.
Phytoplankton form the basis of the marine food web and are responsible for approximately half of global carbon dioxide (CO2) fixation (∼ 50 Pg of carbon per year). Thus, these microscopic, photosynthetic organisms are vital in controlling the atmospheric CO2 concentration and Earth’s climate. Phytoplankton are dependent on sunlight and their CO2-fixation activity is therefore restricted to the upper, sunlit surface ocean (that is, the euphotic zone). CO2 usually does not limit phytoplankton growth due to its high concentration in seawater. However, the vast majority of oceanic surface waters are depleted in inorganic nitrogen, phosphorus, iron and/or silica; nutrients that limit primary production in the ocean (Figure 1). Phytoplankton growth is mainly supported by either the recycling of nutrients or by reintroduction of nutrients from deeper waters by mixing. A small percentage of primary production, though, is fueled by ‘external’ or ‘new’ nutrients and it is these nutrients that determine the amount of carbon that can be sequestered long term in the deep ocean. For most nutrients such as phosphorus, iron, and silica, the external supply is limited to atmospheric deposition and/or coastal and riverine inputs, whereas their main sink is the sedimentation of particulate matter. Nitrogen, however, has an additional, biological source, the fixation of N2 gas, as well as biological sinks via the processes of denitrification and anammox. Despite the comparatively small contributions to the overall turnover of nutrients in the ocean, it is these biological processes that determine the ocean’s capacity to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere on time scales of ocean circulation (∼ 1000 years). This primer will highlight shifts in the traditional paradigms of nutrient limitation in the ocean, with a focus on the uniqueness of the nitrogen cycling and its biological sources and sinks.
Ecosystems store vast quantities of wealth, but difficulties measuring wealth held in ecosystems prevent its inclusion in accounting systems. Ecosystem-based management endeavors to manage ecosystems holistically. However, ecosystem-based management lacks headline indicators to evaluate performance. We unify the inclusive wealth and ecosystem-based management paradigms, allowing apples-to-apples comparisons between the wealth of the ecosystem and other forms of wealth, while providing a headline performance index for evaluating the performance of ecosystem-based management. We project that the Baltic Sea fishery ecosystem yields increasing stores of wealth over the next 50 y under the ecosystem-based management-inspired multispecies maximum sustainable yield management beginning in 2017, whereas the previous single-species management generally results in declining wealth.
Shark-diving is part of a rapidly growing industry focused on marine wildlife tourism. Our study aimed to provide an estimate of the economic value of shark-diving tourism across Australia by comprehensively surveying the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), grey nurse shark (Carcharias taurus), and reef shark (mostly Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos and Triaenodon obesus) diving industries using a standardised approach. A socio-economic survey targeted tourist divers between March 2013 and June 2014 and collected information on expenditures related to diving, accommodation, transport, living costs, and other related activities during divers’ trips. A total of 711 tourist surveys were completed across the four industries, with the total annual direct expenditure by shark divers in Australia estimated conservatively at $25.5 M. Additional expenditure provided by the white-shark and whale-shark-diving industries totalled $8.1 and $12.5 M for the Port Lincoln and Ningaloo Reef regions respectively. International tourists diving with white sharks also expended another $0.9 M in airfares and other activities while in Australia. These additional revenues show that the economic value of this type of tourism do not flow solely to the industry, but are also spread across the region where it is hosted. This highlights the need to ensure a sustainable dive-tourism industry through adequate management of both shark-diver interactions and biological management of the species on which it is based. Our study also provides standardised estimates which allow for future comparison of the scale of other wildlife tourism industries (not limited to sharks) within or among countries.
The surface oil burns conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard from April to July 2010 during the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico were simulated by small scale burns to characterize the pollutants, determine emission factors, and gather particulate matter for subsequent toxicity testing. A representative crude oil was burned in ocean-salinity seawater, and emissions were collected from the plume by means of a crane-suspended sampling platform. Emissions included particulate matter, aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated dibenzodioxins/dibenzofurans, elements, and others, the sum of which accounted for over 92% by mass of the combustion products. The unburned oil mass was 29% of the original crude oil mass, significantly higher than typically reported. Analysis of alkanes, elements, and PAHs in the floating residual oil and water accounted for over 51% of the gathered mass. These emission factors, along with toxicity data, will be important toward examining impacts of future spill burning operations.
Millions of marine ornamental fishes are traded every year. Today, over half of the known nearly 4000 coral reef fish species are in trade with poor or no monitoring and demand is increasing. This study investigates their trade into and through Switzerland by analyzing import documents for live animals. In 2009, 151 import declarations with attached species lists for marine ornamental fishes from non-EU countries totaled 28 356 specimens. The 62% of the fishes remaining in Switzerland, comprised 440 marine species from 45 families, the rest transited to EU and non-EU countries. Despite the recognized large trade volume for the European region, due to bilateral agreements, no data is collected for imports from the EU. However, inferred data shows that more than 200 000 marine ornamental fishes could be imported into Switzerland every year and an unknown quantity re-exported. As biggest import region, it is therefore safe to assume, that the European region is importing at least as many marine ornamental fishes as the US. There is no adequate data-collecting system known to be in place in any country for monitoring this trade. The EU Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) to monitor animal diseases could be adjusted to gather compulsory information for the EU and Switzerland. More than half of the species imported into Switzerland are not assessed by the IUCN and therefore marked as ‘not evaluated’ on the Red List. Overall, 70% of all known coral reef fish species have not been evaluated. If coral reef fishes are threatened or endangered due to large, possibly unsustainable numbers traded, it may be rational to monitor the trade in these species through the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).
Even in the presence of environmental safeguards, catastrophic accidents related to anthropogenic activities occur that can result in both immediate and chronic impacts on local biota. However, due to the unplanned nature of catastrophes, studies aimed to identify the effects of these accidents on an ecosystem and its inhabitants often have imperfect study designs that are reactive rather than proactive, resulting in methodological and analytical challenges. On 20 April 2010, following an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, a well blowout occurred on the seafloor approximately 80 km off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico. This blowout resulted in the largest marine oil spill in United States history, which impacted critical migratory stopover and overwintering habitat for many seabird and shorebird species, including species of high conservation concern such as the piping plover (Charadrius melodus). Here, we assessed the potential longer-term demographic impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on piping plovers in a capture-mark-recapture framework. We examined whether a series of demographic processes, including probabilities of remaining at a specific wintering site, over-winter and annual apparent survival, winter stopover duration, and abundance varied among oiled and unoiled habitats. We found that the perceived amount of oiling on land, in water, and on individual birds, as well as numerous demographic processes, were spatially or temporally variable. However, we found little support that piping plover demography was negatively influenced by the magnitude of oil observed at an impacted area, or that demographic rates substantially varied between reference and oil impacted areas. Nor did we find that piping plovers that were observed to be oiled had lower survival probabilities following the DWH oil spill relative to non-oiled individuals from the same winter population. Although we did not find that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill substantially influenced piping plovers, our methods provide an analytical framework to more appropriately address both the near or long-term impacts of an anthropogenic disturbance on a species.
During the last decade a number of Large Marine Protected Areas (LMPAs) – marine protected areas that exceed a minimum size threshold and are often in offshore or open ocean waters – have been designated in an effort to meet marine conservation objectives. Research on the human dimensions of LMPAs is limited, though comprehensive policy analysis requires an understanding of the full range of social, cultural and economic benefits associated with LMPA designation. This paper addresses this need by employing a stated preference choice experiment survey of U.S. west coast households to examine public preferences for different protected area designs sited off the U.S. west coast. Using data from over 3000 randomly selected households in California, Oregon, and Washington we estimate choice models and calculate economic values for a suite of LMPAs that vary in size and in the types of restrictions within area boundaries. Results show that the LMPA size yielding the highest value is ~15.6% of the west coast Federal waters. Results also underscore the importance of restriction type, as there are considerably different threshold sizes above which diminishing returns and negative economic values are derived from no-access reserves, no-take, and multiple-use designations. While the value of any specific configuration can be estimated using the model, results offer insight on optimal use designations from a public perspective for small (< 2.5% of west coast Federal waters), medium (2.5%–~10%) and large (> 10%) LMPAs sited off the U.S. west coast.
Increasing numbers of people are living in and using coastal areas. Combined with the presence of pervasive coastal threats, such as flooding and erosion, this is having widespread impacts on coastal populations, infrastructure and ecosystems. For the right adaptive strategies to be adopted, and planning decisions to be made, rigorous evaluation of the available options is required. This evaluation hinges on the availability and use of suitable datasets. For knowledge to be derived from coastal datasets, such data needs to be combined and analysed in an effective manner. This paper reviews a wide range of literature relating to data-driven approaches to coastal risk evaluation, revealing how limitations have been imposed on many of these methods, due to restrictions in computing power and access to data. The rapidly emerging field of ‘Big Data’ can help overcome many of these hurdles. ‘Big Data’ involves powerful computer infrastructures, enabling storage, processing and real-time analysis of large volumes and varieties of data, in a fast and reliable manner. Through consideration of examples of how ‘Big Data’ technologies are being applied to fields related to coastal risk, it becomes apparent that geospatial Big Data solutions hold clear potential to improve the process of risk based decision making on the coast. ‘Big Data’ does not provide a stand-alone solution to the issues and gaps outlined in this paper, yet these technological methods hold the potential to optimise data-driven approaches, enabling robust risk profiles to be generated for coastal regions.