Understanding the mechanisms which determine the capacity of any species to adapt to changing environmental conditions is one of the foremost requirements in accurately predicting which populations, species and clades are likely to survive ongoing, rapid climate change. The polar oceans are amongst the most rapidly changing environments on Earth with reduced regional sea ice duration and extent, and their fauna's expected sensitivity to warming and acidification. These changes potentially pose a significant threat to a number of polar fauna. There is, therefore, a critical need to assess the vulnerability of a wide range of species to determine the tipping points or weak links in marine assemblages. Knowledge of the effect of multiple stressors on polar marine fauna has advanced over the last 40 years, but there are still many data gaps. This study applies ecological risk assessment techniques to the increasing knowledge of polar species' physiological capacities to identify their exposure to climate change and their vulnerability to this exposure. This relatively rapid, semi-quantitative assessment provides a layer of vulnerability on top of climate envelope models, until such times as more extensive physiological data sets can be produced. The risk assessment identified more species that are likely to benefit from the near-future predicted change (the winners), especially predators and deposit feeders. Fewer species were scored at risk (the losers), although animals that feed on krill scored consistently as under the highest risk.
Microbial plankton respiration is the key determinant in the balance between the storage of organic carbon in the oceans or its conversion to carbon dioxide with accompanying consumption of dissolved oxygen. Over the past 50 years, dissolved oxygen concentrations have decreased in many parts of the world’s oceans, and this trend of ocean deoxygenation is predicted to continue. Yet despite its pivotal role in ocean deoxygenation, microbial respiration remains one of the least constrained microbial metabolic processes. Improved understanding of the magnitude and variability of respiration, including attribution to component plankton groups, and quantification of the respiratory quotient, would enable better predictions, and projections of the intensity and extent of ocean deoxygenation and of the integrative impact of ocean deoxygenation, ocean acidification, warming, and changes in nutrient concentration and stoichiometry on marine carbon storage. This study will synthesize current knowledge of respiration in relation to deoxygenation, including the drivers of its variability, identify key unknowns in our ability to project future scenarios and suggest an approach to move the field forward.
Marine carbon dioxide (CO2) system data has been collected from December 2014 to June 2018 in the Northern Salish Sea (NSS; British Columbia, Canada) and consisted of continuous measurements at two sites as well as spatially- and seasonally distributed discrete seawater samples. The array of CO2 observing activities included high-resolution CO2 partial pressure (pCO2) and pHT (total scale) measurements made at the Hakai Institute’s Quadra Island Field Station (QIFS) and from an Environment Canada weather buoy, respectively, as well as discrete seawater measurements of pCO2 and total dissolved inorganic carbon (TCO2) obtained during a number of field campaigns. A relationship between NSS alkalinity and salinity was developed with the discrete datasets and used with the continuous measurements to highly resolve the marine CO2 system. Collectively, these datasets provided insights into the seasonality in this historically under-sampled region and detail the area’s tendency for aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) to be at non-corrosive levels (i.e., Ωarag > 1) only in the upper water column during spring and summer months. This depth zone and time period of reprieve can be periodically interrupted by strong northwesterly winds that drive short-lived (∼1 week) episodes of high-pCO2, low-pH, and low-Ωarag conditions throughout the region. Interannual variability in summertime conditions was evident and linked to reduced northwesterly winds and increased stratification. Anthropogenic CO2 in NSS surface water was estimated using data from 2017 combined with the global atmospheric CO2 forcing for the period 1765 to 2100, and projected a mean value of 49 ± 5 μmol kg-1 for 2018. The estimated trend in anthropogenic CO2 was further used to assess the evolution of Ωarag and pHT levels in NSS surface water, and revealed that wintertime corrosive Ωaragconditions were likely absent pre-1900. The percent of the year spent above Ωarag = 1 has dropped from ∼98% in 1900 to ∼60% by 2018. Over the coming decades, winter pHT and spring and summer Ωarag are projected to decline to conditions below identified biological thresholds for select vulnerable species.
Until the 1990s, beaked whales were one of the least understood groups of large mammals. Information on northern bottlenose whales (Hyperoodon ampullatus) and Baird’s beaked whales (Berardius bairdii) was available from data collected during whaling, however, little information existed on the smaller species other than occasional data gleaned from beach-cast animals. Recent research advances have been plentiful. Increasing global survey effort, together with morphometric and genetic analyses have shown at least 22 species in this group. Longitudinal field studies of at least four species (H. ampullatus, B. bairdii, Ziphius cavirostris, Mesoplodon densirostris) have become established over the last three decades. Several long-term studies support photo-identification catalogs providing insights into life history, social structure and population size. Tag-based efforts looking at diving, movements and acoustics have provided detail on individual behavior as well as population structure and ranges. Passive acoustic monitoring has allowed long-term and seasonal monitoring of populations. Genetic studies have uncovered cryptic species and revealed contrasting patterns of genetic diversity and connectivity amongst the few species examined. Conservation concern for these species was sparked by mass strandings coincident with military mid-frequency sonar use. Fat and gas emboli have been symptomatic indicators of mortalities related to sonar exposure, suggesting that their vulnerability stems from the physiological exertion of extreme diving for medium-sized whales. Behavioral response experiments have now shown that beaked whales appear to cease foraging and delay their return to foraging and/or leave the area in association with exposure to mid-frequency signals at low acoustic levels. Future priorities for these species will be to (1) continue field-studies to better understand smaller-scale habitat use, vital rates and social structure; (2) develop better detection methods for larger-scale survey work; (3) improve methodology for monitoring energetics, individual body condition and health; (4) develop tools to better understand physiology; (5) use recent genetic advances with improved sample databanks to re-examine global and local beaked whale relationships; (6) further quantify anthropogenic impacts (both sonar and other noise) and their population consequences (7) apply acquired data for realistic mitigation of sonar and other anthropogenic impacts for beaked whale conservation.
Marine species with pelagic larvae typically exhibit little population structure, suggesting long distance dispersal and high gene flow. Directly quantifying dispersal of marine fishes is challenging but important, particularly for design of marine protected areas (MPAs). Here, we studied kelp rockfish (Sebastes atrovirens) sampled along ~25 km of coastline in a boundary current‐dominated ecosystem and used genetic parentage analysis to identify dispersal events and characterize them, since the distance between sedentary parents and their settled offspring is the lifetime dispersal distance. Large sample sizes and intensive sampling are critical for increasing the likelihood of detecting parent‐offspring matches in such systems and we sampled more than 6,000 kelp rockfish and analyzed them with a powerful set of 96 microhaplotype markers. We identified eight parent‐offspring pairs with high confidence, and they included two juvenile fish that were born inside MPAs and dispersed to areas outside MPAs, and four fish born in MPAs that dispersed to nearby MPAs. Additionally, we identified 25 full‐sibling pairs, which occurred throughout the sampling area and included all possible combinations of inferred dispersal trajectories. Intriguingly, these included two pairs of young‐of‐the‐year siblings with one member each sampled in consecutive years. These sibling pairs suggest monogamy, either intentional or accidental, which has not been previously demonstrated in rockfishes. This study provides the first direct observation of larval dispersal events in a current‐dominated ecosystem and direct evidence that larvae produced within MPAs are exported both to neighboring MPAs and proximate areas where harvest is allowed.
Resource subsidies across ecosystems can have strong and unforeseen ecological impacts. Marine-derived nutrients from Pacific salmon (Onchorhycus spp.) can be transferred to streams and riparian forests through diverse food web pathways, fertilizing forests and increasing invertebrate abundance, which may in turn affect breeding birds. We quantified the influence of salmon on the abundance and composition of songbird communities across a wide range of salmon-spawning biomass on 14 streams along a remote coastal region of British Columbia, Canada. Point-count data spanning two years were combined with salmon biomass and 13 environmental covariates in riparian forests to test for correlates with bird abundance, foraging guilds, individual species, and avian diversity. We show that bird abundance and diversity increase with salmon biomass and that watershed size and forest composition are less important predictors. This work provides new evidence for the importance of salmon to terrestrial ecosystems and information that can inform ecosystem-based management.
Microplastics are ubiquitous throughout the oceans, yet few studies have documented their occurrence in marine organisms associated with coral reefs. Four genera of adult fish were sampled (Myripristis spp., Siganusspp., Epinephelus merra and Cheilopogon simus) from different trophic guilds around the tropical island of Moorea, French Polynesia. Digestive tracts from 133 adult fish were surveyed and microplastics were found in 28 tracts (21%). Abundance of ingested microplastic pieces per individual fish varied from 1 to 3 pieces, with an average of 1.25 ± 0.13 ingested microplastic pieces. Microplastics size ranged from 0.031 to 2.44 mm and 70% of microplastics did not exceed 0.3 mm in size. Overall, this study shows that the number and size of microplastic ingested per trophic groups are independent of trophic guild. Additional studies are needed to sample in other tropical regions in order to have a better assessment of microplastic occurrence in coral reefs.
Nowadays, there is an increased awareness on the threat that marine littermay pose to the marine environment. This review describes the major concerns related to plastic pollution, namely in terms of toxicity of different types and sizes of nanoplastics (particles smaller than 100 nm) to marine organisms, either producers or consumers. The available data show that nanoplastics may affect negatively organisms from different phyla with reported effects ranging from alterations in reproduction to lethality. Nevertheless, no information regarding marine vertebrates (e.g., fish) was found. Data show a high potential for bioaccumulation/biomagnification along marine food chains, since they can easily be retained inside organisms. The lack of standardized methodology for nanoplastics detection and the poor or inexistent legislation makes nanoplastics an environmental challenge.
Although Taiwan has taken conservation measures for coastal and offshore fishery resources in recent years, the effectiveness of resources rebuilding is unclear. Many initiatives, such as marine protected areas (MPAs), are frequently opposed by fishermen. This research reviewed management measures and interviewed 313 fishermen by purposive stratification and snowball sampling. Data were analyzed by fishery, age, and vessel size to address the attitudes and perceptions of fishermen toward twelve fisheries management measures. Descriptive statistics, as well as chi-squared tests and independent t-tests, were used for basic analysis and differences comparison between groups. The results showed that illegal fishing vesselsfrom China (71%), overfishing (69.5%), and ghost fishing (64%) are considered as major threats to Taiwan marine resources. The measures from voyage data recorders, larval anchovy, precious coral, and shark management result in higher satisfaction because of strict monitoring. The satisfaction measures for three net-type measures, i.e., trawler area closure, torch-light limitation, and gillnet limitation, were low. Line-type and small-scale vessel fishermen are more concerned with “small mesh size” and “ghost fishing”. Net-type, large-scale vessels and young fishermen were concerned about “climate change” and “inappropriate measures”. In conclusion, the priorities are to (1) establish a comprehensive scientific research framework; (2) strengthen enforcement to ensure resources rebuilding, especially for large-scale net fisheries; (3) promote public awareness and build communication between stakeholders to obtain support; and (4) communicate among policymakers and fishermen to increase mutual understanding.
Converting assemblages of marine protected areas (MPAs) into functional MPA networks requires political will, multidisciplinary information, coordinated action and time. We developed a new framework to assist planning environmental representativity in a network across the marine space of Portugal, responding to a political commitment to protect 14% of its area by 2020. An aggregate conservation value was estimated for each of the 27 habitats identified, from intertidal waters to the deep sea. This value was based on expert-judgment scoring for environmental properties and features relevant for conservation, chosen to reflect the strategic objectives of the network, thus providing an objective link between conservation commitments and habitat representativity in space. Additionally, habitats' vulnerability to existing anthropogenic pressures and sensitivity to climate change were also scored. The area coverage of each habitat in Portugal and within existing MPAs (regionally and nationally) was assigned to a scale of five orders of magnitude (from <0.01% to >10%) to assess rarity and existing representation. Aggregate conservation value per habitat was negatively correlated with area coverage, positively correlated with vulnerability and was not correlated with sensitivity. The proposed framework offers a multi-dimensional support tool for MPA network development, in particular regarding the prioritization of new habitats to protect, when the goal is to achieve specific targets while ensuring representativity across large areas and complex habitat mosaics. It requires less information and computation effort in comparison to more quantitative approaches, while still providing an objective instrument to scrutinize progress on the implementation of politically set conservation targets.