The understanding of ecosystem services is essential to support sustainable use and preservation of ecosystems. Coralligenous habitats, main contributors of the Mediterranean marine biodiversity, are yet understudied in term of services provided. This study presents an original small-scale approach to investigate the services provided by coralligenous habitats of a French study area consisting of two marine sites (Marseille and Port-Cros sites) in order to cover two contrasted anthropogenic pressure despite the small-scale. Our results are based on the opinions of 43 experts who ranked 15 services in terms of existence and level of importance for human well-being: supporting ecological functions were considered the most important, then provisioning and cultural services. Regulating services were considered uncertain due to a lack of knowledge. The small-scale approach highlighted a need for a referential frame to determine the existence of services (e.g. geographical and temporal scales, benefits and beneficiaries levels).
The latest reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which regulates the exploitation of fish stocks in European waters entails a move from the traditional single stock management towards Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management (EBFM). Meanwhile the Marine Strategy Framework Directive dictates that Good Environmental Status (GES) should be achieved in European waters by 2020. Here we apply an EBFM approach to the west of Scotland demersal fisheries which are currently facing several management issues: depleted stocks of cod (Gadus morhua) and whiting (Merlangius merlangus), increased predation from grey seals (Halichoerus grypus), and large bycatch of juvenile whiting by crustacean fisheries. A food web ecosystem model was employed to simulate the outcomes of applying the traditional single stock fishing mortalities (F), and management scenarios which explored F ranges in accordance with the CFP. Ecosystem indicators were calculated to assess the performance of these scenarios towards achieving GES. Our results highlight the importance of considering prey-predator interactions, in particular the impact of the top predators, cod and saithe (Pollachius virens), on juvenile cod and whiting. The traditional single stock approach would likely recover cod, but not whiting. Exploring the F ranges revealed that a drastic reduction of juvenile whiting bycatch is necessary for the whiting stock to recover. Predation from grey seals had little impact overall, but did affect the timing of cod and whiting recovery. With the exception of whiting, little difference was observed between the single stock scenario, and the best scenario identified towards achieving GES. The findings advocate for the use of ecosystem modelling alongside the traditional single stock assessment models used for tactical decision making in order to better inform fisheries management.
Abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) comprises a significant amount of global marine debris, with diverse impacts to marine environments, wildlife, and the fishing industry. Building evidence on ALDFG is critical to holistically understand the marine debris issue, and to inform the development of solutions that reduce amounts of ALDFG sources and recover existing gear. Substantial work has been and continues to be undertaken around the world to collect data on ALDFG, much of which remains unpublished. To provide a global picture of data on ALDFG, we organized a technical session that brought together seven ALDFG leaders to share their expertise in data collection, retrieval, and awareness-raising. This paper summarizes the technical session to highlight: 1) case studies that feature innovative approaches to ALDFG data collection and retrieval; 2) examples of opportunities to fill data gaps and improve our understanding of wildlife ingestion of and entanglement in ALDFG; and 3) awareness-raising through the development of a publicly accessible global ALDFG database.
Polymer science is one of the most revolutionary research areas of the last century, instigated by the discovery of Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic. Plastic, once a revolutionary material, has gradually become a global environmental threat with ubiquitous distribution.
The term ‘microplastics’ coined in 2004, is used to describe the smaller plastic particles recorded, however there is still no all-inclusive definition that accurately encompasses all criteria that could potentially describe what a microplastic is.
Here, the authors focus on the currently reported methods for describing and identifying microplastics and propose a new definition that incorporates all the important descriptive properties of microplastics. This definition not only focuses on size and origin, but also considers physical and chemical defining properties. While this manuscript may promote debate, it aims to reach a consensus on a definition for microplastics which can be useful for research, reporting and legislative purposes.
Scleractinian corals’ microbial symbionts influence host health, yet how coral microbiomes assembled over evolution is not well understood. We survey bacterial and archaeal communities in phylogenetically diverse Australian corals representing more than 425 million years of diversification. We show that coral microbiomes are anatomically compartmentalized in both modern microbial ecology and evolutionary assembly. Coral mucus, tissue, and skeleton microbiomes differ in microbial community composition, richness, and response to host vs. environmental drivers. We also find evidence of coral-microbe phylosymbiosis, in which coral microbiome composition and richness reflect coral phylogeny. Surprisingly, the coral skeleton represents the most biodiverse coral microbiome, and also shows the strongest evidence of phylosymbiosis. Interactions between bacterial and coral phylogeny significantly influence the abundance of four groups of bacteria–including Endozoicomonas-like bacteria, which divide into host-generalist and host-specific subclades. Together these results trace microbial symbiosis across anatomy during the evolution of a basal animal lineage.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an increasingly deployed spatial management tool. MPAs are primarily designed for biodiversity conservation, with their success commonly measured using a narrow suite of ecological indicators. However, for MPAs to achieve their biodiversity conservation goals they require community support, which is dependent on wider social, economic and political factors. Despite this, research into the human dimensions of MPAs continues to lag behind our understanding of ecological responses to MPA protection. Here, we explore stakeholders’ perceptions of what MPA success is. We conducted a series of semi-structured interviews and focus groups with a diverse group of stakeholders local to a South Australian MPA. What constitutes success varied by stakeholder group, and stakeholders’ stated understanding of the purpose of the MPA differed from how they would choose to measure the MPA’s success. Indeed, all interviewees stated that the primary purpose of the MPA was ecological, yet almost all (>90%) would measure the success of the MPA using social and economic measures, either exclusively or in conjunction with ecological ones. Many respondents also stated that social and economic factors were key to the MPA achieving ongoing/future success. Respondents generated a large range of novel socio-economic measures of MPA success, many of which could be incorporated into monitoring programs for relatively little additional cost. These findings also show that success is not straightforward and what constitutes success depends on who you ask. Even where an MPA’s primary ecological purpose is acknowledged by stakeholders, stakeholders are likely to only consider the MPA a success if its designation also demonstrates social and economic benefits to their communities. To achieve local stakeholder support MPAs and associated monitoring programs need to be designed for a variety of success criteria in mind, criteria which reflect the priorities and needs of the adjacent communities as well as national and international conservation objectives.
Understanding the complexity of social-ecological systems is fundamental for achieving sustainability. Historically, humans have benefited from the ecosystem services offered by nature at the same time that natural systems have increasingly changed because of anthropogenic activities. The lack of methods to unveil and understand such associations might hinder the integrated management of coastal marine areas. In our study, we applied a methodological framework used in terrestrial systems to identify and spatially locate the coastal marine social-ecological systems (CMSESs) on the southern Mediterranean Spanish coast. These CMSESs represent areas with similar human-nature associations that result from sharing similar socioeconomic and marine environmental characteristics. We applied several multivariate analyses to identify and characterize these CMSESs. We found the presence of twelve CMSESs that suggest a co-evolution of the social-ecological associations in these areas. Our results highlight the need for integrated coastal planning and management that consider the specific characteristics and conservation challenges of each CMSES. Our study provides evidence that a successful methodological framework to identify and characterize social-ecological systems can be applied in coastal areas and contribute to integrated management for the sustainability of these fragile systems.
For millennia Indigenous communities worldwide have maintained diverse knowledge systems informed through careful observation of dynamics of environmental changes. Although Indigenous communities and their knowledge systems are recognized as critical resources for understanding and adapting to climate change, no comprehensive, evidence-based analysis has been conducted into how environmental studies engage Indigenous communities. Here we provide the first global systematic review of levels of Indigenous community participation and decision-making in all stages of the research process (initiation, design, implementation, analysis, dissemination) in climate field studies that access Indigenous knowledge. We develop indicators for assessing responsible community engagement in research practice and identify patterns in levels of Indigenous community engagement. We find that the vast majority of climate studies (87%) practice an extractive model in which outside researchers use Indigenous knowledge systems with minimal participation or decision-making authority from communities who hold them. Few studies report on outputs that directly serve Indigenous communities, ethical guidelines for research practice, or providing Indigenous community access to findings. Further, studies initiated with (in mutual agreement between outside researchers and Indigenous communities) and by Indigenous community members report significantly more indicators for responsible community engagement when accessing Indigenous knowledges than studies initiated by outside researchers alone. This global assessment provides an evidence base to inform our understanding of broader social impacts related to research design and concludes with a series of guiding questions and methods to support responsible research practice with Indigenous and local communities.
Many biological and economic processes in fisheries occur seasonally though most of the extant literature tends to neglect periodicity. This work is an attempt to treat seasonality in a systematic way. We present a multi-season multi-state bioeconomic model and apply a periodic Bellman approach using dynamic programming to obtain the optimal feedback policy of each season. Our approach has rich potentials. It could deal with seasonal patterns of arbitrary uneven lengths: some may span years and some may occur within a year.
Our numerical illustration demonstrates that a seasonal dynamic optimization model allows for naturally occurring seasonal moratorium or potentially a Marine Protected Area (MPA). It shows that there exists optimal dynamic paths that develop into a permanent equilibrium cycle, which consists of one harvesting season followed by a moratorium period. This indicates an optimal closure of the fishery that a yearly model would overlook. Fishing pressure on the mature stock elicits even heavier harvesting in the next season on the same group. A protective moratorium of the immature hinders the value of the whole stock.
Two key drivers, ocean warming and ocean acidification, affect the oceans and adds to the climate change adversely. International legal and policy instruments contain certain measures to tackle these growing effects. China is also committed to addressing the effects of climate change on the oceans. The overlapping of different systems has, however, created some difficulties in practice and further coordination is urgently required. This paper uses qualitative methods to investigate China's legal practices in addressing the effects of climate change and their impact on the oceans. The study considers newly introduced policies and recent actions launched by the Chinese Government to chart a clearer picture of the current practices. To this end, it is concluded that the ultimate solution in avoiding the worsening effects of climate change on the oceans would be to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases worldwide, and China aims to take advantage of playing leading role in such efforts.