Literature Library

Currently indexing 8424 titles

EU Policy Update: Marine Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Management

Citation Information: EU Policy Update: EU2013.2; National Assembly of Wales Research Service; April 2013

Description: On 13 March 2013 the European Commission published draft proposals for a new Directive aimed at establishing a common EU framework for Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Management.1 The Directive aims to promote sustainable use of maritime and coastal resources and sustainable growth of maritime and coastal economies.

In broad terms, the Directive would place a legal requirement on Member States to develop and implement Marine Spatial Plans (MSP) and Integrated Costal Management Strategies (ICMS).

Ocean Data Standards: Recommendation for a Quality Flag Scheme for the Exchange of Oceanographic and Marine Meteorological Data

Citation Information: Paris. Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO. 2013. Ocean Data Standards, Vol.3: Recommendation for a Quality Flag Scheme for the Exchange of Oceanographic and Marine Meteorological Data. (IOC Manuals and Guides, 54, Vol. 3.) 12 pp. (English.)(IOC/2013/MG/54-3)

Description: The value of standards for the management and exchange of data has always been acknowledged. In the oceanography and marine meteorology domain, there have been many efforts to develop common standards and data frameworks for processing data and information but these have never been widely adopted by the community.

IODE (International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange) and JCOMM (Joint WMO‐IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology) recognized that, although there were mechanisms to facilitate coordinated ocean data exchange, these had not resulted in the degree of agreement on a wide range of matters that were needed in order to allow the easy exchange and interoperability of collected data. In 2008, the joint IODE/JCOMM Forum on Oceanographic Data Management and Exchange Standards established the Ocean Data Standards Pilot Project (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange. 2010).

One of the objectives of this Project is to initiate discussions on a limited set of topics for which it is felt that broad agreement is possible and to achieve broad agreement and commitment to adopt key standards related to ocean data management and exchange to facilitate exchange between data centres and contributing programmes. A second objective is to establish an internationally recognized process for submitting proposed standards and their acceptance by the ocean community.

The recommended standards that are produced by this process are intended primarily for the use of the oceanographic and marine meteorological community. After recommendation, their use will be widely encouraged within IOC and other programmes.

An Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Energy's Marine and Hydrokinetic Resource Assessments

Citation Information: The National Academies Press; Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Technology Assessment Committee; Board on Energy and Environmental Systems; Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences; Ocean Studies Board; Division on Earth and Life Sciences; National Research Council; ISBN: 978-0-309-26999-5, 154 pages (2013)

Description: Increasing renewable energy development, both within the United States and abroad, has rekindled interest in the potential for marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) resources to contribute to electricity generation. These resources derive from ocean tides, waves, and currents; temperature gradients in the ocean; and free-flowing rivers and streams. One measure of the interest in the possible use of these resources for electricity generation is the increasing number of permits that have been filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). As of December 2012, FERC had issued 4 licenses and 84 preliminary permits, up from virtually zero a decade ago. However, most of these permits are for developments along the Mississippi River, and the actual benefit realized from all MHK resources is extremely small. The first U.S. commercial gridconnected project, a tidal project in Maine with a capacity of less than 1 megawatt (MW), is currently delivering a fraction of that power to the grid and is due to be fully installed in 2013.

Marine Spatial Planning and the Historic Environment

Citation Information: Firth, A., 2013, ‘Marine Spatial Planning and the Historic Environment’, unpublished report for English Heritage. Project Number 5460, Fjordr Ref: 16030. Tisbury: Fjordr Limited.

Abstract: Marine Spatial Planning and the Historic Environment is a consultancy project intended to inform English Heritage about the international, European and UK interpretation of marine planning methodology. This report is the main deliverable of the project.

The report reviews the character of the marine historic environment in the light of the conceptual framework of sustainable development and considers the different emphases that animate marine spatial planning. The report also looks in detail at the place of the historic environment in ecosystem-based management, ecological services and socio-economic assessment.

The report goes on to present an extensive account of law and policy relating to the historic environment within marine spatial planning in different domains, from global international law to locally-based planning.

The final part of the report seeks to provide practical guidance on how the historic environment is best addressed within marine spatial planning, taking into account in particular the wide scope of decision-taking by public authorities that is subject to marine plan policies, and the need for proactive policies that encompass all the guiding principles of sustainable development.

Five areas are identified as warranting further development:

The quantitative evidence-base on the current and potential contribution of the marine historic environment to social and economic growth;

Supplementary Planning Documents on the historic environment to support Marine Plans;

Collation of local plan policies from authorities adjacent to marine plan areas, to facilitate the integration of MSP with land-based planning;

Guidance for public authorities on the marine historic environment to reflect the role that the UK Marine Policy Statement and Marine Plans now play in public authority decision-making;

The relationship between marine spatial planning and the protection and management of World Heritage Sites in England, given that so many WHS encompass or are adjacent to marine plan areas.

Marine Protected Area Network Planning in the Scotian Shelf Bioregion: Context and Conservation Objectives

Citation Information: Westhead, M., King, M., and Herbert, G. 2013. Marine Protected Area Network Planning in the Scotian Shelf Bioregion: Context and Conservation Objectives. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2012/126. ii + 11 p.

Abstract: Canada has committed to establishing a national network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in support of integrated coastal and ocean management. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Maritimes Region is leading the development of an MPA network plan for the Scotian Shelf Bioregion. A Regional Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat meeting was held March 5-7, 2012, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, to gather advice from the science community on what ecosystem features (i.e., species, habitats, and communities) a network of MPAs for the Scotian Shelf Bioregion should aim to protect, and the data that should be considered in characterizing the spatial distribution of these features.

This research document was prepared as a context piece for that meeting. It is intended to: (1) outline the policy context for MPA network planning in Canada; (2) provide a summary of past MPA network planning efforts in the Scotian Shelf Bioregion; (3) set the Regional Science Advisory Process in the context of the broader network planning process; and (4) outline strategic-level conservation objectives for the bioregional network.

Meta-population feeding grounds of Cory's shearwater in the subtropical Atlantic Ocean: implications for the definition of Marine Protected Areas based on tracking studies

Citation Information: Diversity and Distributions; DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12088

Authors: Raül Ramos, José P. Granadeiro, Beneharo Rodríguez, Joan Navarro, Vitor H. Paiva, Juan Bécares, José M. Reyes-González, Isabel Fagundes, Asunción Ruiz, Pep Arcos, Jacob González-Solís, Paulo Catry



Apical pelagic species forage in predictable habitats, and their movements should signal biologically and ecologically significant areas of the marine ecosystem. Several countries are now engaged in identifying these areas based on animal tracking, but this is often limited to a few individuals from one breeding population, which may result in biased portrayals of the key marine habitats. To help identify such foraging areas, we compiled tracking data of a marine top predator from the main breeding colonies in the Central Macaronesia.


North-east Atlantic Ocean.


Over seven years, we tracked the foraging movements of Cory's shearwaters (Calonectris borealis) from several populations during the chick-rearing period using global positioning system and platform terminal transmitter devices.


We obtained foraging trips from 174 shearwaters breeding on six important colonies representative of the range occupied in the Macaronesian Archipelagos of Madeira, Salvages and Canaries. Our results show that birds orient and move rapidly towards the closest neritic waters over the African continental shelf. Birds from different colonies show substantial spatial segregation in their foraging grounds but consistently overlap in some specific foraging areas along the Canary Current characterized by high productivity. By weighting the use of foraging grounds according to the size of each study population, we inferred the overall exploitation of such areas.

In-situ Effects of Eutrophication and Overfishing on Physiology and Bacterial Diversity of the Red Sea Coral Acropora hemprichii

Citation Information: Jessen C, Villa Lizcano JF, Bayer T, Roder C, Aranda M, et al. (2013) In-situ Effects of Eutrophication and Overfishing on Physiology and Bacterial Diversity of the Red Sea Coral Acropora hemprichii. PLoS ONE 8(4): e62091. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062091

Abstract: Coral reefs of the Central Red Sea display a high degree of endemism, and are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic effects due to intense local coastal development measures. Overfishing and eutrophication are among the most significant local pressures on these reefs, but there is no information available about their potential effects on the associated microbial community. Therefore, we compared holobiont physiology and 16S-based bacterial communities of tissue and mucus of the hard coral Acropora hemprichii after 1 and 16 weeks of in-situ inorganic nutrient enrichment (via fertilizer diffusion) and/or herbivore exclusion (via caging) in an offshore reef of the Central Red Sea. Simulated eutrophication and/or overfishing treatments did not affect coral physiology with respect to coral respiration rates, chlorophyll a content, zooxanthellae abundance, or δ 15N isotopic signatures. The bacterial community of A. hemprichii was rich and uneven, and diversity increased over time in all treatments. While distinct bacterial species were identified as a consequence of eutrophication, overfishing, or both, two bacterial species that could be classified to the genus Endozoicomonas were consistently abundant and constituted two thirds of bacteria in the coral. Several nitrogen-fixing and denitrifying bacteria were found in the coral specimens that were exposed to experimentally increased nutrients. However, no particular bacterial species was consistently associated with the coral under a given treatment and the single effects of manipulated eutrophication and overfishing could not predict the combined effect. Our data underlines the importance of conducting field studies in a holobiont framework, taking both, physiological and molecular measures into account.

Fishery-Induced Changes in the Subtropical Pacific Pelagic Ecosystem Size Structure: Observations and Theory

Citation Information: Polovina JJ, Woodworth-Jefcoats PA (2013) Fishery-Induced Changes in the Subtropical Pacific Pelagic Ecosystem Size Structure: Observations and Theory. PLoS ONE 8(4): e62341. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062341

Abstract: We analyzed a 16-year (1996–2011) time series of catch and effort data for 23 species with mean weights ranging from 0.8 kg to 224 kg, recorded by observers in the Hawaii-based deep-set longline fishery. Over this time period, domestic fishing effort, as numbers of hooks set in the core Hawaii-based fishing ground, has increased fourfold. The standardized aggregated annual catch rate for 9 small (<15 kg) species increased about 25% while for 14 large species (>15 kg) it decreased about 50% over the 16-year period. A size-based ecosystem model for the subtropical Pacific captures this pattern well as a response to increased fishing effort. Further, the model projects a decline in the abundance of fishes larger than 15 kg results in an increase in abundance of animals from 0.1 to 15 kg but with minimal subsequent cascade to sizes smaller than 0.1 kg. These results suggest that size-based predation plays a key role in structuring the subtropical ecosystem. These changes in ecosystem size structure show up in the fishery in various ways. The non-commercial species lancetfish (mean weight 7 kg) has now surpassed the target species, bigeye tuna, as the species with the highest annual catch rate. Based on the increase in snake mackerel (mean weight 0.8 kg) and lancetfish catches, the discards in the fishery are estimated to have increased from 30 to 40% of the total catch.

Quantifying Climatological Ranges and Anomalies for Pacific Coral Reef Ecosystems

Citation Information: Gove JM, Williams GJ, McManus MA, Heron SF, Sandin SA, et al. (2013) Quantifying Climatological Ranges and Anomalies for Pacific Coral Reef Ecosystems. PLoS ONE 8(4): e61974. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061974

Abstract: Coral reef ecosystems are exposed to a range of environmental forcings that vary on daily to decadal time scales and across spatial scales spanning from reefs to archipelagos. Environmental variability is a major determinant of reef ecosystem structure and function, including coral reef extent and growth rates, and the abundance, diversity, and morphology of reef organisms. Proper characterization of environmental forcings on coral reef ecosystems is critical if we are to understand the dynamics and implications of abiotic–biotic interactions on reef ecosystems. This study combines high-resolution bathymetric information with remotely sensed sea surface temperature, chlorophyll-a and irradiance data, and modeled wave data to quantify environmental forcings on coral reefs. We present a methodological approach to develop spatially constrained, island- and atoll-scale metrics that quantify climatological range limits and anomalous environmental forcings across U.S. Pacific coral reef ecosystems. Our results indicate considerable spatial heterogeneity in climatological ranges and anomalies across 41 islands and atolls, with emergent spatial patterns specific to each environmental forcing. For example, wave energy was greatest at northern latitudes and generally decreased with latitude. In contrast, chlorophyll-a was greatest at reef ecosystems proximate to the equator and northern-most locations, showing little synchrony with latitude. In addition, we find that the reef ecosystems with the highest chlorophyll-a concentrations; Jarvis, Howland, Baker, Palmyra and Kingman are each uninhabited and are characterized by high hard coral cover and large numbers of predatory fishes. Finally, we find that scaling environmental data to the spatial footprint of individual islands and atolls is more likely to capture local environmental forcings, as chlorophyll-a concentrations decreased at relatively short distances (>7 km) from 85% of our study locations. These metrics will help identify reef ecosystems most exposed to environmental stress as well as systems that may be more resistant or resilient to future climate change.

Habitat use of breeding green turtles Chelonia mydas tagged in Dry Tortugas National Park: Making use of local and regional MPAs

Citation Information: Biological Conservation, Volume 161, May 2013, Pages 142–154

Authors: Kristen M. Hart, David G. Zawada, Ikuko Fujisaki, Barbara H. Lidz

Abstract: Use of existing marine protected areas (MPAs) by far-ranging marine turtles can be determined using satellite telemetry. Because of a lack of information on MPA use by marine turtles in the Gulf of Mexico, we used satellite transmitters in 2010 and 2011 to track movements of 11 adult female breeding green turtles (Chelonia mydas) tagged in Dry Tortugas National Park (DRTO), in the Gulf of Mexico, south Florida, USA. Throughout the study period, turtles emerged every 9–18 days to nest. During the intervals between nesting episodes (i.e., inter-nesting periods), the turtles consistently used a common core-area within the DRTO boundary, determined using individual 50% kernel-density estimates (KDEs). We mapped the area in DRTO where individual turtle 50% KDEs overlapped using the USGS Along-Track Reef-Imaging System, and determined the diversity and distribution of various benthic-cover types within the mapped area. We also tracked turtles post-nesting as they transited to foraging sites 5–282 km away from tagging beaches; these sites were located both within DRTO and in the surrounding area of the Florida Keys and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), a regional MPA. Year-round residency of 9 out of 11 individuals (82%) both within DRTO and in the FKNMS represents novel non-migratory behavior, which offers an opportunity for conservation of this imperiled species at both local and regional scales. These data comprise the first satellite-tracking results on adult nesting green turtles at this remote study site. Additional tracking could reveal whether the distinct inter-nesting and foraging sites delineated here will be repeatedly used in the future by these and other breeding green turtles.

Ecosystem-based management in challenging conditions: implications of a case study from north-eastern Turkey

Citation Information: International Journal of Water Resources Development; DOI: 10.1080/07900627.2013.766535

Author: Dilek Unalan

Abstract: This paper studies ways to implement ecosystem-based management (EBM) regardless of data and governance conditions. It focuses on a case study from Turkey and considers how EBM can be implemented under certain specific challenging conditions. The case study provides conceptual context diagrams of actual and hypothetical situations and then compares them using soft systems methodology. This comparison emphasizes the need for a firm political will that fully enforces regulations on the protection of water resources. The paper also recommends a productive stakeholder engagement that empowers locals and uses local knowledge to meet information requirements for progress towards EBM implementation under challenging conditions.

Performance of Coral Reef Management within Marine Protected Areas: Integrating Ecological, Socioeconomic, Technological, and Institutional Dimensions

Citation Information: Journal of Tropical Forest Management; Vol 19, No 1 (2013)

Authors: Roni Bawole, Victor Rumere, Mudjirahayu ., Thomas Frans Pattiasina

Abstract: This research studied the characteristics and approaches that contributed to the successful of coral reef management (CRM) efforts. One such characteristic occurred in most case studies was the importance of integrating ecological, socio-economic, technological use, and institutional dimensions during all processes. Based on a multi-dimensional analysis, the sustainability of CRM was 56.34% cumulatively, indicating a moderate level of management. This study further suggested the importance to improve technology and institution to achieve an effective CRM since both dimensions have contributed only 38.80% and 49.26% respectively. Stakeholder involvement was also central to the success of networking development within the management of Cenderawasih Bay National Park, specifically in facilitating the integration of ecological, socioeconomic, political will, and local cultural objectives in achieving an optimum planning objectives. Compilations of baselin information (both scientific and local knowledge) were important to evaluate the effectiveness of all processes and for adaptive management to increase its potential in the management strategies. Balancing the integration of all management dimensions (ecology, socio-economic, technology, and institution) in the whole processes with specific attributes in each case, would lead to an adaptive management for the implementation of conservation and management process.

Achieving Ecologically Coherent MPA Networks in Europe: Science Needs and Priorities

Citation Information: Olsen EM, Johnson D, Weaver P, Goñi R, Ribeiro MC, Rabaut M, Macpherson E, Pelletier D, Fonseca L, Katsanevakis S, Zaharia T (2013). Achieving Ecologically Coherent MPA Networks in Europe: Science Needs and Priorities. Marine Board Position Paper 18. Larkin, KE and McDonough N (Eds.). European Marine Board, Ostend, Belgium.

Abstract: This position paper highlights a set of science needs and priorities that can best contribute to the process of establishing a coherent network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Europe. The paper examines the different phases of MPA development, e.g. design, management and assessment, as a contribution towards the ecosystem-based management of European seas and oceans. The establishment of networks of reserves has been proposed by many scientists and wildlife managers as a way to effectively protect biodiversity (Santos et al., 1995; Allison et al., 1998; Sala et al., 2002; Airamé et al., 2003; Lubchenco et al., 2003; Fernandes et al., 2005; Green et al., 2009). An effective network of MPAs needs to span large geographical distances and encompass a substantial area to protect against catastrophes (Lubchenco et al., 2003) and increasing environmental variability as a result of climate change. The fisheries management benefits of these ecological reserves are also increasingly recognized and include protecting critical feeding, nursery and spawning grounds which in turn help to build and maintain fish populations resulting in improved fishing yields (United Nations General Assembly A/Res/61/105).

Sustainable Livelihoods Approach in tropical coastal and marine social–ecological systems: A review

Citation Information: Marine Policy, Volume 42, November 2013, Pages 253–258

Authors: Daniella Ferrol-Schulte, Matthias Wolff, Sebastian Ferse, Marion Glaser

Abstract: Tropical coastal and marine social–ecological systems (CM-SESs) differ from other social–ecological systems through the higher degree of risk and uncertainty associated with coastal and marine resource extraction, the dynamic nature of aquatic and human resources, and often unclear tenure. CM-SES resource management and poverty-alleviation strategies must be adaptive and holistic. The Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) provides a framework for understanding and guiding policy-making in CM-SES. Case studies from the past 10 years analyze tropical coastal and marine-resource dependent livelihoods and/or to evaluate current CM-SES management using the SLA. These studies have shown that, despite the rounded and inclusive approach of projects such as the Sustainable Fisheries Livelihoods Programme, key challenges for researchers and practitioners remain including rights and access allocation, corruption, lack of local financial, intellectual and innovative capacity and centralized governance. Whilst the SLA may increase understanding of local-level dynamics within CM-SES, more consultation at interdisciplinary frontiers is needed in order to formulate practical solutions to the core problems of tropical CM-SES management.

Identifying fisheries dependent communities in EU coastal areas

Citation Information: Marine Policy, Volume 42, November 2013, Pages 245–252

Authors: Fabrizio Natale, Natacha Carvalho, Michael Harrop, Jordi Guillen, Katia Frangoudes

Abstract: The importance of local communities relying on fisheries is constantly emphasised in the European Union's Common Fishery Policy. Previous studies have analysed fishery employment for the entire EU based on statistical figures aggregated by administrative units at the regional or provincial level. This paper adopts a geographical approach to identify EU coastal communities relying on fisheries using accessibility analysis, principles at the basis of gravity models and disaggregated population and employment statistics. The dependency on fisheries is calculated comparing estimated employment from fisheries at each port with general employment in the areas of accessibility surrounding the port. By considering spatially disaggregated statistics the importance of fishing activities for specific local communities emerges more clearly in respect of previous studies. The map of fisheries dependent coastal communities identifies in 2010, 388 communities, out of 1697, with dependency ratios above 1%. Around 54% of total fishery employment is estimated in these areas. In terms of policy support, identifying and mapping these local fishing coastal communities is of key importance considering the strong priority assigned by the new European Union's Common Fishery Policy to fishery management at the regional level.

State of the California Central Coast: Results from Baseline Monitoring of Marine Protected Areas 2007 – 2012

Citation Information: State of the California Central Coast: Results from Baseline Monitoring of Marine Protected Areas 2007–2012. California Ocean
Science Trust and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California, USA. February 2013.

Description: In 2007, the Central Coast became the first region in California to implement a network of 29 marine protected areas under the Marine Life Protection Act. Scientific monitoring is essential to evaluate the effects of MPAs and inform ocean management. The first step of monitoring is to establish a benchmark of ocean conditions and human activities at the time of MPA implementation, against which future changes can be measured.

Researchers from academic institutions and government agencies, as well as individuals from citizen science organizations and fishermen involved in collaborative fisheries projects, conducted surveys of kelp forests, nearshore fish populations, rocky intertidal habitats and deep-water habitats. Socioeconomic data were also collected, allowing us to paint a broad picture of the condition of Central Coast marine ecosystems, including how humans interact with them.

The report highlights key findings that include:

  • What types of habitats exist within the MPA network?
  • What are the benchmark conditions in kelp forest, mid-depth, deep and rocky intertidal ecosystems?
  • How have commercial fishing landings and revenues changed over time?
  • Are MPAs having a positive effect on marine ecosystems?
  • Are there any differences in the size or abundance of key species inside MPAs as compared to outside MPAs?
  • How have landings in key commercial fisheries – like squid, and the nearshore live fish fishery – varied in each of the region’s ports since 1992?
  • How has the number of trips on party-boats varied through time?
  • How do oceanographic processes such as upwelling, currents and El Niño events affect species and human activities in the region?
  • How are species such as abalone and rockfish distributed across the region, between MPAs, and within different ecosystems like rocky shores and kelp forests?
  • What insights have we learned to help inform ongoing monitoring and adaptive management of the MPAs?

Evidence-based marine protected area planning for a highly mobile endangered marine vertebrate

Citation Information: Biological Conservation, Volume 161, May 2013, Pages 101–109

Authors: Gail Schofield, Rebecca Scott, Alexandra Dimadi, Sabrina Fossette, Kostas A. Katselidis, Drosos Koutsoubas, Martin K.S. Lilley, John D. Pantis, Amalia D. Karagouni, Graeme C. Hays

Abstract: Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) now form an important part of marine conservation and fisheries management; hence, there is broad interest in developing procedures that optimize their design. We used data collected over a 10-year period (2003–2012) from direct surveys and >100 adult male and female loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) tracked with devices, including GPS loggers and Fastloc GPS-Argos, to consider the optimum design for a MPA at a globally important breeding area, where there is already an existing national marine park aiming to protect the population (Zakynthos, Greece). Turtles primarily used areas very close to shore (approx. 7 km in length by 1 km in width, within the <10 m isobath) for breeding and foraging activity at different times of the year. We calculated that this small nearshore coastal zone encompassed 72% of all turtle GPS locations recorded in the MPA, and is therefore important for conservation management. We developed an index to evaluate the suitability of the existing and proposed conservation zones based on (1) home range area use by turtles in these zones versus (2) zone size, so that the benefit to turtles could be maximized while minimizing the negative impacts to other stakeholders (e.g., boat operators). With this evidence-based approach, we propose a modification to the existing MPA that might both enhance local economic tourism activities and better safeguard this key sea turtle breeding population. The approaches used here will have general application for the design of MPAs used by mobile species that can be tracked.

The Role of Pre-Existing Disturbances in the Effect of Marine Reserves on Coastal Ecosystems: A Modelling Approach

Citation Information: Savina M, Condie SA, Fulton EA (2013) The Role of Pre-Existing Disturbances in the Effect of Marine Reserves on Coastal Ecosystems: A Modelling Approach. PLoS ONE 8(4): e61207. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061207

Abstract: We have used an end-to-end ecosystem model to explore responses over 30 years to coastal no-take reserves covering up to 6% of the fifty thousand square kilometres of continental shelf and slope off the coast of New South Wales (Australia). The model is based on the Atlantis framework, which includes a deterministic, spatially resolved three-dimensional biophysical model that tracks nutrient flows through key biological groups, as well as extraction by a range of fisheries. The model results support previous empirical studies in finding clear benefits of reserves to top predators such as sharks and rays throughout the region, while also showing how many of their major prey groups (including commercial species) experienced significant declines. It was found that the net impact of marine reserves was dependent on the pre-existing levels of disturbance (i.e. fishing pressure), and to a lesser extent on the size of the marine reserves. The high fishing scenario resulted in a strongly perturbed system, where the introduction of marine reserves had clear and mostly direct effects on biomass and functional biodiversity. However, under the lower fishing pressure scenario, the introduction of marine reserves caused both direct positive effects, mainly on shark groups, and indirect negative effects through trophic cascades. Our study illustrates the need to carefully align the design and implementation of marine reserves with policy and management objectives. Trade-offs may exist not only between fisheries and conservation objectives, but also among conservation objectives.

Assessing Global Marine Biodiversity Status within a Coupled Socio-Ecological Perspective

Citation Information: Selig ER, Longo C, Halpern BS, Best BD, Hardy D, et al. (2013) Assessing Global Marine Biodiversity Status within a Coupled Socio-Ecological Perspective. PLoS ONE 8(4): e60284. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060284

Abstract: People value the existence of a variety of marine species and habitats, many of which are negatively impacted by human activities. The Convention on Biological Diversity and other international and national policy agreements have set broad goals for reducing the rate of biodiversity loss. However, efforts to conserve biodiversity cannot be effective without comprehensive metrics both to assess progress towards meeting conservation goals and to account for measures that reduce pressures so that positive actions are encouraged. We developed an index based on a global assessment of the condition of marine biodiversity using publically available data to estimate the condition of species and habitats within 151 coastal countries. Our assessment also included data on social and ecological pressures on biodiversity as well as variables that indicate whether good governance is in place to reduce them. Thus, our index is a social as well as ecological measure of the current and likely future status of biodiversity. As part of our analyses, we set explicit reference points or targets that provide benchmarks for success and allow for comparative assessment of current conditions. Overall country-level scores ranged from 43 to 95 on a scale of 1 to 100, but countries that scored high for species did not necessarily score high for habitats. Although most current status scores were relatively high, likely future status scores for biodiversity were much lower in most countries due to negative trends for both species and habitats. We also found a strong positive relationship between the Human Development Index and resilience measures that could promote greater sustainability by reducing pressures. This relationship suggests that many developing countries lack effective governance, further jeopardizing their ability to maintain species and habitats in the future.

Predicting climate effects on Pacific sardine

Citation Information: PNAS April 16, 2013 vol. 110 no. 16 6430-6435

Authors: Ethan R. Deyle, Michael Fogarty, Chih-hao Hsieh, Les Kaufman, Alec D. MacCall, Stephan B. Munch, Charles T. Perretti, Hao Ye, and George Sugihara

Abstract: For many marine species and habitats, climate change and overfishing present a double threat. To manage marine resources effectively, it is necessary to adapt management to changes in the physical environment. Simple relationships between environmental conditions and fish abundance have long been used in both fisheries and fishery management. In many cases, however, physical, biological, and human variables feed back on each other. For these systems, associations between variables can change as the system evolves in time. This can obscure relationships between population dynamics and environmental variability, undermining our ability to forecast changes in populations tied to physical processes. Here we present a methodology for identifying physical forcing variables based on nonlinear forecasting and show how the method provides a predictive understanding of the influence of physical forcing on Pacific sardine.


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