The formation of novel ecosystems by non-native species poses management challenges that are both socially and ecologically complex. Negative attitudes towards non-native species can complicate management in cases where non-native species provide ecosystem service benefits. Due to their intentional introduction over a century ago, non-native mangroves in Hawai’i present a unique case study. Although some have called for eradication of mangroves from Hawai’i, an active management approach may ultimately offer the greatest benefits to both the ecosystem and society by allowing mangroves to persist in locations where they provide habitat and crabbing access, while limiting their extent in other locations to protect native bird habitat and allow for beach and ocean access. We evaluated (1) attitudes and perceptions about non-native mangroves, (2) factors influencing these attitudes, and (3) support for different management approaches by surveying residents of Moloka’i, Hawai’i (n = 204). Negative attitudes towards mangroves were influenced by a lack of reliance on mangroves for benefit and a concern about threats to Moloka’i’s coast. Active management was supported by 88% of residents, while 41% supported eradication. Among the 88% in favor of active management, 24% of written in responses expressed a need for maintaining the benefits of mangroves and 67% described reducing the negative impacts, while 4% acknowledged both the benefit and harm the species has on the environment. As successful non-native species management may be dependent on local support, we emphasize that understanding human attitudes and perceptions is beneficial for non-native species managers in any location. Results from our study highlight the importance of understanding social attitudes towards non-native species management strategies from propagation to eradication. We conclude with a framework for integrating stakeholder attitudes and beliefs into novel ecosystem management
The abyssal demosponge Plenaster craigi inhabits the Clarion‐Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the northeast Pacific, a region with abundant seafloor polymetallic nodules with potential mining interest. Since P. craigi is a very abundant encrusting sponge on nodules, understanding its genetic diversity and connectivity could provide important insights into extinction risks and design of marine protected areas. Our main aim was to assess the effectiveness of the Area of Particular Environmental Interest 6 (APEI‐6) as a potential genetic reservoir for three adjacent mining exploration contract areas (UK‐1A, UK‐1B and OMS‐1A). As in many other sponges, COI showed extremely low variability even for samples ~900 km apart. Conversely, the 168 individuals of P. craigi, genotyped for 11 microsatellite markers, provided strong genetic structure at large geographical scales not explained by isolation by distance (IBD). Interestingly, we detected molecular affinities between samples from APEI‐6 and UK‐1A, despite being separated ~800 km. Although our migration analysis inferred very little progeny dispersal of individuals between areas, the major differentiation of OMS‐1A from the other areas might be explained by the occurrence of predominantly northeasterly transport predicted by the HYCOM hydrodynamic model. Our study suggests that although APEI‐6 does serve a conservation role, with species connectivity to the exploration areas, it is on its own inadequate as a propagule source for P. craigi for the entire eastern portion of the CCZ. Our new data suggest that an APEI located to the east and/or the south of the UK‐1, OMS‐1, BGR, TOML and NORI areas would be highly valuable.
Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) are used in impact evaluation in a range of fields. However, despite calls for their greater use in environmental management, their use to evaluate landscape scale interventions remains rare. Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) incentivise land users to manage land to provide environmental benefits. We present the first RCT evaluation of a PES program aiming to improve water quality. Watersharedis a program which incentivises landowners to avoid deforestation and exclude cattle from riparian forests. Using this unusual landscape-scale experiment we explore the efficacy of Watershared at improving water quality, and draw lessons for future RCT evaluations of landscape-scale environmental management interventions.
One hundred and twenty-nine communities in the Bolivian Andes were randomly allocated to treatment (offered Watershared agreements) or control (not offered agreements) following baseline data collection (including Escherichia coli contamination in most communities) in 2010. We collected end-line data in 2015. Using our end-line data, we explored the extent to which variables associated with the intervention (e.g. cattle exclusion, absence of faeces) predict water quality locally. We then investigated the efficacy of the intervention at improving water quality at the landscape scale using the RCT. This analysis was done in two ways; for the subset of communities for which we have both baseline and end-line data from identical locations we used difference-in-differences (matching on baseline water quality), for all sites we compared control and treatment at end-line controlling for selected predictors of water quality.
The presence of cattle faeces in water adversely affected water quality suggesting excluding cattle has a positive impact on water quality locally. However, both the matched difference-in-differences analysis and the comparison between treatment and control communities at end-line suggested Watershared was not effective at reducing E. coli contamination at the landscape scale. Uptake of Watershared agreements was very low and the most important land from a water quality perspective (land around water intakes) was seldom enrolled.
Although excluding cattle may have a positive local impact on water quality, higher uptake and better targeting would be required to achieve a significant impact on the quality of water consumed in the communities. Although RCTs potentially have an important role to play in building the evidence base for approaches such as PES, they are far from straightforward to implement. In this case, the randomised trial was not central to concluding that Watershared had not produced a landscape scale impact. We suggest that this RCT provides valuable lessons for future use of randomised experiments to evaluate landscape-scale environmental management interventions.
Mid-latitude (∼30-60°) seasonally stratifying shelf-seas support a high abundance and diversity of marine predators such as marine mammals and seabirds. However, anthropogenic activities and climate change impacts are driving changes in the distributions and population dynamics of these animals, with negative consequences for ecosystem functioning. Across mid-latitude shelf-seas marine mammals and seabirds are known to forage across a number of oceanographic habitats that structure the spatio-temporal distributions of prey fields. Knowledge of these and the bio-physical mechanisms driving such associations are needed to improve marine management and policy. Here, we provide a concise and easily accessible guide for both researchers and managers of marine systems on the predominant oceanographic habitats that are favoured for foraging by marine mammals and seabirds across mid-latitude shelf-seas. We (1) identify and describe key discrete physical features present across the continental shelf, working inshore from the shelf-edge to the shore line, (2) provide an overview of findings relating to associations between these habitats and marine mammals and seabirds, (3) identify areas for future research and (4) discuss the relevance of such information to conservation management. We show that oceanographic features preferentially foraged at by marine mammals and seabirds include shelf-edge fronts, upwelling and tidal-mixing fronts, offshore banks and internal waves, regions of stratification, and topographically complex coastal areas subject to strong tidal flow. Whilst associations were variable across taxa and through space and time, in the majority of cases interactions between bathymetry and tidal currents appear to play a dominant role, alongside patterns in seasonal stratification and shelf-edge upwelling. We suggest that the ecological significance of these bio-physical structures stems from a capacity to alter the densities, distributions (both horizontally and vertically) and/or behaviours of prey in a persistent and/or predictable manner that increases accessibility for predators, and likely enhances foraging efficiency. Future conservation management should aim to preserve and protect these habitats. This will require adaptive and holistic strategies that are specifically tailored to the characteristics of an oceanographic feature, and where necessary, evolve through space and time in response to spatio-temporal variability. Improved monitoring of animal movements and bio-physical conditions across shelf-seas would aid in this. Areas for future research include multi-disciplinary/trophic studies of the mechanisms linking bio-physical processes, prey and marine mammals and seabirds (which may elucidate the importance of lesser studied features such as bottom fronts and Langmuir circulation cells), alongside a better understanding of how predators perceive their environment and develop foraging strategies during immature/juvenile stages. Estimates of the importance of oceanographic habitat features at a population level should also be obtained. Such information is vital to ensuring the future health of these complex ecosystems, and can be used to assess how anthropogenic activities and future environmental changes will impact the functioning and spatio-temporal dynamics of these bio-physical features and their use by marine predators.
The effective management of fish populations requires understanding of both the biology of the species being managed and the behavior of the humans who harvest those species. For many marine fisheries, recreational harvests represent a significant portion of the total fishing mortality. For such fisheries, therefore, a model that captures the dynamics of angler choices and the fish population would be a valuable tool for fisheries management. In this study, we provide such a model, focusing on red drum and spotted seatrout, which are the two of the main recreational fishing targets in the Gulf of Mexico. The biological models are in the form of vector autoregressive models. The anglers’ decision model takes the discrete choice approach, in which anglers first decide whether to go fishing and then determine the location to fish based on the distance and expected catch of two species of fish if they decide to go fishing. The coupled model predicts that, under the level of fluctuation in the abundance of the two species experienced in the past 35 years, the number of trips that might be taken by anglers fluctuates moderately. This fluctuation is magnified as the cost of travel decreases because the anglers can travel long distance to seek better fishing conditions. On the other hand, as the cost of travel increases, their preference to fish in nearby areas increases regardless of the expected catch in other locations and variation in the trips taken declines. The model demonstrates the importance of incorporating anglers’ decision processes in understanding the changes in a fishing effort level. Although the model in this study still has a room for further improvement, it can be used for more effective management of fish and potentially other populations.
As environmental DNA (eDNA) becomes an increasingly valuable resource for marine ecosystem monitoring, understanding variation in its persistence across contrasting environments is critical. Here, we quantify the breakdown of macrobial eDNA over a spatio-temporal axis of locally extreme conditions, varying from ocean-influenced offshore to urban-inshore, and between winter and summer. We report that eDNA degrades 1.6 times faster in the inshore environment than the offshore environment, but contrary to expectation we find no difference over season. Analysis of environmental covariables show a spatial gradient of salinity and a temporal gradient of pH, with salinity—or the biotic correlates thereof—most important. Based on our estimated inshore eDNA half-life and naturally occurring eDNA concentrations, we estimate that eDNA may be detected for around 48 h, offering potential to collect ecological community data of high local fidelity. We conclude by placing these results in the context of previously published eDNA decay rates.
The coastal and marine environment is often managed according to the principles of sustainable development, which include environmental, economic, and social dimensions. While each are equally important, social sustainability receives a lower priority in both policy and research. Methodologies for assessing social sustainability are less developed than for environmental and economic sustainability, and there is a lack of data on the social aspects of sustainable development (such as social equity), which constitutes a barrier to understanding social considerations and integrating them into natural resource management. This paper explores a threat and risk assessment to the marine estate in New South Wales, Australia, which identified and categorised both the benefits that communities gain from the marine estate and the threats to those benefits. A broad range of benefits were identified including participation (e.g., socialising and sense of community), enjoyment (e.g., enjoying the biodiversity and beauty), cultural heritage and use, intrinsic and bequest values, the viability of businesses, and direct economic values. Threats to community benefits were categorised as resource use conflict, environmental, governance, public safety, critical knowledge gaps and lack of access. An integrated threat and risk assessment approach found that the priority threats to community benefits were environmental threats (e.g., water pollution), critical knowledge gaps (e.g., inadequate social and economic information), governance (e.g., lack of compliance), resource-use conflict (e.g., anti-social behaviour), and lack of access (e.g., loss of fishing access). Threat and risk assessment is an evidence-based tool that is useful for marine planning because it provides a structured approach to incorporating multiple types of knowledge and enables limited resources to be targeted to the threats identified as being most important to address.
Change, adaptation, and resilience have emerged as central concerns in the study of natural resource governance. The mobility of fisheries makes them particularly dynamic and susceptible to long term drivers of movement, such as changing climatic conditions and human pressures. To explore how movement impacts resource systems, this paper presents a mixed-method empirical analysis of long-term geographic shifts and social response in the Northeast U.S. summer flounder fishery from 1996 to 2014. First, the paper describes changes in the distribution of summer flounder and the catch location of commercial fishing trips landing summer flounder. This is followed by a description of the institutional context of summer flounder fishery management and a narrative policy analysis of the ongoing regulatory process. Results indicate significant northward movement of both resource and resource users. Fisheries movement patterns are a result of both ecological change, and an institutional context that allows for some types of fishery mobility while constraining others. Significant conflict has emerged over the distribution of resource access and benefits as these fishery shifts occur within a spatially allocative, and relatively static management context. The analysis identifies competing policy narratives that have emerged to advocate for different forms of adaptation. Narratives offer contesting constructions of the nature and extent of locational shifts, and the fundamental goals of allocation. The differences in these narratives highlight how policy history shapes contemporary disagreements about appropriate response. This fishery serves as a case study for exploring human response to large scale, long-term movements of a natural resource.
This review provides insight into the abundance, origin, distribution and composition of MPs in the sea surface and water column of the Mediterranean Sea. Literature data on MP particles on the sea surface showed an evident heterogeneous distribution and composition, with marked geographical differences between Mediterranean sub-basins. A standardized protocol for water sampling, extraction and detection of plastic debris is strongly recommended. The heterogenicity of MP distribution and its concentration levels could be related to several factors, such as the different methodological approaches. In addition, the influence of hydrodynamic features such as currents, up and down-welling, gyres and fronts could also be responsible for this heterogeneity in concentrations. Marine litter modeling studies have been applied to understand litter sources, fate, transport and accumulation in oceans. Recent studies focused on the “plastisphere” in order to better understand the potential risk of pathogen dispersion with plastic transport in the Mediterranean Sea.
Artificial structures are proliferating in the marine environment, resulting in ‘ocean sprawl’. In light of the potential environmental impacts of this, such as habitat loss and alteration, it is becoming increasingly important to incorporate ecologically-sensitive design into artificial marine structures. The principles of eco-engineering and green infrastructure are embedded in urban planning practice for terrestrial and freshwater development projects. In marine planning, however, eco-engineering of blue-green infrastructure remains an emerging concept. This note provides a UK perspective on the progress towards uptake of eco-engineering approaches for enhancing biodiversity on artificial marine structures. We emphasise that, despite a clear ‘policy pull’ to incorporate biodiversity enhancements in marine structures, a range of proof-of-concept evidence that it is possible to achieve, and strong cross-sectoral stakeholder support, there are still few examples of truly and purposefully-designed blue-green artificial structures in the UK. We discuss the barriers that remain and propose a strategy towards effective implementation. Our strategy outlines a step-wise approach to: (1) strengthening the evidence base for what enhancements can be achieved in different scenarios; (2) improving clarity on the predicted benefits and associated costs of enhancements; (3) packaging the evidence in a useful form to support planning and decision-making; and (4) encouraging implementation as routine practice. Given that ocean sprawl is a growing problem globally, the perspective presented here provides valuable insight and lessons for other nations at their various states of progress towards this same goal.