We demonstrate for the first time a direct oceanic link between climate‐driven change in the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans and the circulation of the northwest European shelf‐seas. Downscaled scenarios show a shutdown of the exchange between the Atlantic and the North Sea, and a substantial decrease in the circulation of the North Sea in the second half of the 21st Century. The northern North Sea inflow decreases from 1.2‐1.3Sv (1Sv=106 m3s‐1) to 0.0‐0.6Sv with Atlantic water largely bypassing the North Sea. This is traced to changes in oceanic haline stratification and gyre structure, and to a newly identified circulation‐salinity feedback. The scenario presented here is of a novel potential future state for the North Sea, with wide‐ranging environmental management and societal impacts. Specifically, the sea would become more estuarine and susceptible to anthropogenic influence with an enhanced risk of coastal eutrophication.
Ecological engineering principles are increasingly being applied to develop multifunctional artificial structures or rehabilitated habitats in coastal areas. Ecological engineering initiatives are primarily driven by marine scientists and coastal managers, but often the views of key user groups, which can strongly influence the success of projects, are not considered. We used an online survey and participatory mapping exercise to investigate differences in priority goals, sites and attitudes towards ecological engineering between marine scientists and coastal managers as compared to other stakeholders. The surveys were conducted across three Australian cities that varied in their level of urbanisation and environmental pressures. We tested the hypotheses that, relative to other stakeholders, marine scientists and coastal managers will: 1) be more supportive of ecological engineering; 2) be more likely to agree that enhancement of biodiversity and remediation of pollution are key priorities for ecological engineering; and 3) identify different priority areas and infrastructure or degraded habitats for ecological engineering. We also tested the hypothesis that 4) perceptions of ecological engineering would vary among locations, due to environmental and socio-economic differences. In all three harbours, marine scientists and coastal managers were more supportive of ecological engineering than other users. There was also greater support for ecological engineering in Sydney and Melbourne than Hobart. Most people identified transport infrastructure, in busy transport hubs (i.e. Circular Quay in Sydney, the Port in Melbourne and the Waterfront in Hobart) as priorities for ecological engineering, irrespective of their stakeholder group or location. There were, however, significant differences among locations in what people perceive as the key priorities for ecological engineering (i.e. biodiversity in Sydney and Melbourne vs. pollution in Hobart). Greater consideration of these location-specific differences is essential for effective management of artificial structures and rehabilitated habitats in urban embayments.
A simple hypothesis-driven model of how floating marine plastic litter is blown onto a beach, and then moved on and off the beach by winds and rising and falling water levels is implemented in a computer simulation. The simulation applied to Aberdeen beach, Scotland, suggests that the interaction between varying winds and water levels alone, coupled to an assumed constant offshore floating litter density, can account for 1) the order of magnitude of the long term average (2000−2010) beach plastic litter loading (observed = 127 np/100 m, simulated = 114 np/100 m); 2) the observed frequency spectrum of low water beach plastic litter loadings; 3) the magnitude of the ratio between offshore floating plastic litter densities and onshore beach plastic litter loadings; 4) zero overall net beach plastic litter accumulation. Results are relevant to beach survey design, designing methods to estimate litter accumulation rates and the setting of MSFD beach litter targets.
Activities involving observation of wild organisms (e.g. wildlife watching, tidepooling) can provide recreational and learning opportunities, with biologically diverse animal assemblages expected to be more stimulating to humans. In turn, more diverse communities may enhance human interest and facilitate provisioning of cultural services. However, no experimental tests of this biodiversity-interest hypothesis exist to date. We therefore investigated the effects of different dimensions of animal biodiversity (species richness, phyletic richness and functional diversity) on self-reported interest using tide pools as a model system. We performed two experiments by manipulating: (1) the richness of lower (species) and higher taxonomic levels (phyla) in an image based, online survey, and (2) the richness of the higher taxonomic level (phyla) in live public exhibits. In both experiments, we further quantified functional diversity, which varied freely, and within the online experiment we also included the hue diversity and colourfulness arising from the combination of organisms and the background scenes. Interest was increased by phyletic richness (both studies), animal species richness (online study) and functional diversity (online study). A structural equation model revealed that functional diversity and colourfulness (of the whole scene) also partially mediated the effects of phyletic richness on interest in the online study. In both studies, the presence of three of four phyla additively increased interest, supporting the importance of multiple, diverse phyla rather than a single particularly interesting phylum. These results provide novel experimental evidence that multiple dimensions of biodiversity enhance human interest and suggest that conservation initiatives that maintain or restore biodiversity will help stimulate interest in ecosystems, facilitating educational and recreational benefits.
Protected areas (PAs) are a prominent approach to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services. A critical question for safeguarding these resources is how PA governance processes and management structures influence their effectiveness. We conduct an impact evaluation of 12 PAs in three Central American countries to assess how processes in management restrictions, management capacity, and decentralization affect the annual change in the satellite-derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). NDVI varies with greenness that relates to plant production, biomass, and important ecosystem functions related to biodiversity and ecosystem services such as water quality and carbon storage. Any loss of vegetation cover in the form of deforestation or degradation would show up as a decrease in NDVI values over time and gains in vegetation cover and regeneration as an increase in NDVI values. Management restriction categories are based on international classifications of strict versus multiple-use PAs, and capacity and decentralization categories are based on key informant interviews of PA managers. We use matching to create a counterfactual of non-protected observations and a matching estimator and regression to estimate treatment effects of each sub-sample. On average, strict and multiple-use PAs have a significant and positive effect on NDVI compared to non-protected land uses. Both high and low decentralized PAs also positively affect NDVI. High capacity PAs have a positive and significant effect on NDVI, while low capacity PAs have a negative effect on NDVI. Our findings advance knowledge on how governance and management influence PA effectiveness and suggest that capacity may be more important than governance type or management restrictions in maintaining and enhancing NDVI. This paper also provides a guide for future studies to incorporate measures of PA governance and management into impact evaluations.
Although evidence suggests the ubiquity of microplastics in the marine environment, our knowledge of its occurrence within remote habitats, such as the deep sea, is scarce. Furthermore, long term investigations of microplastic abundances are even more limited. Here we present a long-term study of the ingestion of microplastics by two deep-sea benthic invertebrates (Ophiomusium lymani and Hymenaster pellucidus) sampled over four decades. Specimens were collected between the years 1976–2015 from a repeat monitoring site >2000 m deep in the Rockall Trough, North East Atlantic. Microplastics were identified at a relatively consistent level throughout and therefore may have been present at this locality prior to 1976. Considering the mass production of plastics began in the 1940s - 50s our data suggest the relatively rapid occurrence of microplastics within the deep sea. Of the individuals examined (n = 153), 45% had ingested microplastics, of which fibres were most prevalent (95%). A total of eight different polymer types were isolated; polyamide and polyester were found in the highest concentrations and in the majority of years, while low-density polystyrene was only identified in 2015. This study provides an assessment of the historic occurrence of microplastics on the deep seafloor and presents a detailed quantification and characterisation of microplastics ingested by benthic species. Furthermore these data advance our knowledge on the long-term fate of microplastic in marine systems.
While undeniably successful in protecting nearshore marine ecosystems from overfishing, conventional marine reserves often impinge on the livelihoods of dependent coastal communities. Community co-managed areas may guarantee considerably more equity, but it is unclear if they can be as effective as conventional reserves in conserving critical trophic functions. We evaluated the effectiveness of different management regimes in the Gulf of California on fish biomass and echinoderm assemblages as proxies of key ecosystem processes on rocky shores. We compared multiple sites in a mixed (multi-use areas with regulated extraction) and core (no-extraction) federally-managed areas, a military MPA (where strict patrolling ensures no extraction), a co-managed reserve where government and communities are equally responsible, and unrestricted-access areas (non MPA). Fish biomass was higher in the military reserve and the community co-managed area reserve; echinoderm numbers were very low at these locations suggesting that they were strongly controlled by top-down processes. In contrast, federally-controlled reserves were virtually no different from unrestricted-access areas in numbers or composition of fish and echinoderms. Although federal managed reserves are the most common management regime across the Gulf, our data shows that they are highly ineffective in protecting ecosystem function. The relative effectiveness of co-managed reserves in this region suggests that fishers are more willing to comply when they have a stake in decision-making. Coastal conservation can benefit greatly by drawing from a wider suite of management options that engage local communities as key participants in the managing marine diversity and critical ecosystem functions.
In the wake of the Napoleonic wars, the Admiralty Hydrographic Office revived and expanded the tradition of state sponsored scientific voyages. These voyages produced charts and technical sailing directions for navigators. They also generated general narratives for a wider audience. In such narratives, officers gave chronological accounts of their travels that folded in miscellaneous scientific content, from instrument tables to natural historical and ethnographical descriptions. These narratives are easy to dismiss as potboilers, clumsy accounts that simply exploited the market for travel writing. Focusing on the hydrographers and texts involved with a pair of famous voyages, the Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of H.M.S. Adventure and Beagle (1839), I argue that the general narratives deserve closer attention. In an age better known for developing specialists and disciplines, the Admiralty voyage narratives followed a model of generalist knowledge. As distinctive literary products of hydrography, moreover, they reflected the values and training of a Royal Navy hydrographer. The texts are a neglected element of early Victorian print culture. Showing the imperial hydrographer at work in throughout the world's oceans, they are also part of the history of globalized knowledge. Through a consideration of these texts, we can see how hydrography treated accuracy, synthesis and crisis.
For protected areas to achieve their conservation goals, visitors should be aware of reserve boundaries and follow the protective measures within them. However, lack of knowledge about the specifics of reserve geography and rules can lead to actions that adversely affect marine life (unsanctioned fishing and collecting) or disturb sensitive species within these areas, even when general support for protected areas is high. We assessed public awareness of State Marine Reserves locations and policies on the central California coast. Using surveys in the form of semi-structured interviews and written questionnaires, we asked beach visitors whether they had prior knowledge about State Marine Reserves. We provided half of participants with new knowledge about State Marine Reserves in the form of a verbal, short pre-survey speech. We asked participants to indicate if they were currently standing inside of a State Marine Reserve and assessed their self-reported likelihoods of performing several actions related to environmental etiquette such as following reserve rules. Finally, we tested how provisional new knowledge influences perceptions surrounding the importance of protecting marine habitats and human impacts on them. Overall, 60% of participants had heard of marine reserves, though this varied by participant region of residence. 33% of participants with prior knowledge and 13% of participants with no prior knowledge identified site protection status correctly. Over half of participants self-reported behaviors consistent with reserve rules and environmental etiquette. Survey participants who received new knowledge did not differ from the control group in their ability to correctly identify reserve location or in their perceptions of human impacts. Our results suggest that the information in our short verbal speech was not sufficient for changing perceptions, though over 90% of visitors stated marine protection to was already personally important or very important to them. Beach visitors intend to treat reserves well if they know they are visiting a reserve. However, because less than one third of visitors recognize reserve locations, a disconnect exists between understanding acceptable behavior for protected sites and knowing where to apply this behavior. Finally, we discuss the educational strategies of docent presence and place-based learning opportunities to improve awareness of marine reserves and their locations for local and non-local visitors.
Here we test an application, based on the analysis of the metadata of geotagged photographs, to investigate the provision of recreational services by the network of wetland ecosystems in the state of Kerala, India. We estimate visitation to individual wetlands state-wide and extend, for the first time to a developing region, the emerging application of recreational ecosystem services (ES) modelling using data from social media and environmental quality data. The impacts of restoration of wetland areal extension and water quality improvement are explored as a means to inform sustainable management strategies. Findings show that improving water quality to a level suitable for the preservation of wildlife and fisheries could increase annual recreational visits by 13% (350,000) to wetlands state-wide. Results support the notion that passive crowdsourced data from social media has the potential to improve current ecosystem service analyses and environmental management practices also in the context of developing countries.