The escape of Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) from aquaculture facilities can result in both negative genetic and ecological interactions with wild populations, yet the ability to predict the associated risk to wild populations has remained elusive. Here we assess the potential of a spatiotemporal database of aquaculture facility locations, production estimates and escape events to predict the distribution of escaped farmed salmon and genetic impacts on wild populations in the Northwest Atlantic. Industry production data, reported escape events, and in-river detections of escaped farmed salmon were collected from across the Northwest Atlantic. Genetic estimates of impact were obtained using single nucleotide polymorphisms (95 loci) representing aquaculture and wild salmon throughout the region (30 populations, 3048 individuals). Both the number of escaped farmed salmon detected at counting facilities and the magnitude of genetic impacts were positively correlated with a cumulative spatial measure of aquaculture production. Our results suggest that the risk of escapees and genetic introgression from wild-farmed salmon interactions can be assessed using information on farm production characteristics. This represents a first step in predicting the impact of existing cage-based farms on wild Atlantic salmon.
More non-native species (NNS) are reported from harbors, estuaries and protected embayments than in wave-exposed, open-coast habitats. In California (USA), hundreds of NNS have become established in international ports, and dozens are known from smaller estuaries. In contrast, only 22 NNS are reported from the state’s 1350 km of open coast. As a result, the perception that open-coast habitats are not vulnerable to invasions has persisted. Management and monitoring focuses on ports and estuaries; the last major monitoring effort on the open coast occurred in 2004. Much of the species-rich Central California coast is now part of a network of marine protected areas (MPAs). We surveyed 12 wave-swept rocky intertidal and eight subtidal sites (from 37°53′40N 122°42′30W to 36°31′16N 121°56′22W) for NNS. At least one NNS was detected at half of the sites surveyed, but most were not widespread or abundant. One exception, a bryozoan in the Watersipora spp. complex, known primarily from ports and estuaries, was found at multiple sites, and was abundant at some. Another non-native, the alga Caulacanthus ustulatus, was abundant at a single site. MPAs were just as likely as sites outside of MPAs to have NNS. For subtidal sites, proximity to a harbor was correlated with the abundance of non-natives. Our findings suggest that our study area is still relatively uninvaded, but the success of Watersipora within some of these highly diverse rocky shore sites underscores the potential vulnerability of high-value open-coast systems to invasions.
In an era of accelerated biodiversity loss and limited conservation resources, systematic prioritization of species and places is essential. In terrestrial vertebrates, evolutionary distinctness has been used to identify species and locations that embody the greatest share of evolutionary history. We estimate evolutionary distinctness for a large marine vertebrate radiation on a dated taxon-complete tree for all 1,192 chondrichthyan fishes (sharks, rays and chimaeras) by augmenting a new 610-species molecular phylogeny using taxonomic constraints. Chondrichthyans are by far the most evolutionarily distinct of all major radiations of jawed vertebrates—the average species embodies 26 million years of unique evolutionary history. With this metric, we identify 21 countries with the highest richness, endemism and evolutionary distinctness of threatened species as targets for conservation prioritization. On average, threatened chondrichthyans are more evolutionarily distinct—further motivating improved conservation, fisheries management and trade regulation to avoid significant pruning of the chondrichthyan tree of life.
Managing natural resources in an era of increasing climate impacts requires accounting for the synergistic effects of climate, ecosystem changes, and harvesting on resource productivity. Coincident with recent exceptional warming of the northwest Atlantic Ocean and removal of large predatory fish, the American lobster has become the most valuable fishery resource in North America. Using a model that links ocean temperature, predator density, and fishing to population productivity, we show that harvester-driven conservation efforts to protect large lobsters prepared the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery to capitalize on favorable ecosystem conditions, resulting in the record-breaking landings recently observed in the region. In contrast, in the warmer southern New England region, the absence of similar conservation efforts precipitated warming-induced recruitment failure that led to the collapse of the fishery. Population projections under expected warming suggest that the American lobster fishery is vulnerable to future temperature increases, but continued efforts to preserve the stock's reproductive potential can dampen the negative impacts of warming. This study demonstrates that, even though global climate change is severely impacting marine ecosystems, widely adopted, proactive conservation measures can increase the resilience of commercial fisheries to climate change.
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are biological pollutants that cause detrimental ecological, economic, and human-health effects in their introduced communities. With increasing globalization through maritime trade, ports are vulnerable to AIS exposure via commercial vessels. The Cuban Port of Mariel is poised to become a competitive transshipment hub in the Caribbean and the intent of this study was to evaluate present and potential impacts AIS pose with the likely future increase in shipping activity. We utilized previous assessment frameworks and publicly accessible information to rank AIS by level of threat. Fifteen AIS were identified in Cuba and one, the Asian green mussel Perna viridis (Linnaeus, 1758), had repeated harmful economic impacts. Five species associated with trade partners of Port Mariel were considered potentially detrimental to Cuba if introduced through shipping routes. The results presented herein identify species of concern and emphasize the importance of prioritizing AIS prevention and management within Cuba.
Although anthropogenic oil spills vary in size, duration and severity, their broad impacts on complex social, economic and ecological systems can be significant. Questions pertaining to the operational challenges associated with the tactical allocation of human resources, cleanup equipment and supplies to areas impacted by a large spill are particularly salient when developing mitigation strategies for extreme oiling events. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the application of advanced oil spill modeling techniques in combination with a developed mathematical model to spatially optimize the allocation of response crews and equipment for cleaning up an offshore oil spill. The results suggest that the detailed simulations and optimization model are a good first step in allowing both communities and emergency responders to proactively plan for extreme oiling events and develop response strategies that minimize the impacts of spills.
The ecological effects of tuna fish farms are largely undocumented. This study confirmed their high capacity to attract surrounding wild fish. The aggregation effect persisted year round, without detectable seasonal differences. Farm impact was restricted to close proximity of the sea cages, and was more prominent over the bottom than in the water column strata. Tuna fish farms proved to be high energy trophic resources, as indicated by the enhanced fitness status of two focal species, bogue and seabream. Under abundant food supply, seabream appear to allocate the majority of energy reserves to gonaddevelopment. Farm associated bogue had greater parasite loads, with no detrimental effect on fitness status. Overall, tuna fish farms can be regarded as population sources for aggregated wild fish, and under the no fishing conditions within the leasehold areas, can serve as functional marine protected areas.
Destructive fishing using explosives occurs in a number of countries worldwide, negatively impacting coral reefs and fisheries on which millions of people rely. Documenting, quantifying and combating the problem has proved problematic. In March–April 2015 231 h of acoustic data were collected over 2692 km of systematically laid transects along the entire coast of Tanzania. A total of 318 blasts were confirmed using a combination of manual and supervised semi-autonomous detection. Blasts were detected along the entire coastline, but almost 62% were within 80 km of Dar es Salaam, where blast frequency reached almost 10 blasts/h. This study is one of the first to use acoustic monitoring to provide a spatial assessment of the intensity of blast fishing. This can be a useful tool that can provide reliable data to define hotspots where the activity is concentrated and determine where enforcement should be focused for maximum impact.
Overexploitation and collapse of major fisheries raises important concerns about effects of harvest on fish populations. We tested for ecological and evolutionary mechanisms by which harvest could affect exploited fish populations in Lake Erie over the last four decades, over most of which intensive fisheries management was implemented. We did not detect evidence of long-term negative effects of harvest on yellow perch (Perca flavescens), walleye (Sander vitreus), white perch (Morone americana) or white bass (Morone chrysops) populations, either through recruitment success, or through alteration of maturation schedules. Current fisheries management in Lake Erie has been relatively successful with respect to minimizing negative harvest effects, such that the dynamics of exploited fish populations in Lake Erie were more strongly affected by environment than harvest. Our study adds to the evidence that effective fisheries management is capable of rebuilding depleted fisheries and/or maintaining healthy fisheries. Nevertheless, fisheries management needs to move beyond the ecological dimension to incorporate economic, social and institutional aspects for society to be better assured of the sustainability of fisheries in rapidly changing ecosystems.
Global shipping is economically important, but has many adverse environmental effects. Anchoring contributes greatly to this adverse impact, as it is responsible for mechanical disturbance of highly sensitive marine habitats. Recovery of these ecosystems is limited by slow regrowth. Anchoring pressure on coastal seabed habitats was estimated using AIS (Automatic Identification System) data along 1800 km of Mediterranean coastline between 2010 and 2015. A comparison with field observations showed that these results were most consistent for large boats (> 50 m). An analysis of AIS data coupled with a seabed map showed that around 30% of the habitats between 0 and − 80 m exhibited anchoring pressure. Posidonia oceanica seagrass beds were the most impacted habitat in terms of duration. This methodology efficiently estimates spatial and temporal anchoring pressure principally due to large boats and should interest managers of marine protected areas as much as coastline managers.
Mechanisms such as ice-shelf hydrofracturing and ice-cliff collapse may rapidly increase discharge from marine-based ice sheets. Here, we link a probabilistic framework for sea-level projections to a small ensemble of Antarctic ice-sheet (AIS) simulations incorporating these physical processes to explore their influence on global-mean sea-level (GMSL) and relative sea-level (RSL). We compare the new projections to past results using expert assessment and structured expert elicitation about AIS changes. Under high greenhouse gas emissions (Representative Concentration Pathway [RCP] 8.5), median projected 21st century GMSL rise increases from 79 to 146 cm. Without protective measures, revised median RSL projections would by 2100 submerge land currently home to 153 million people, an increase of 44 million. The use of a physical model, rather than simple parameterizations assuming constant acceleration of ice loss, increases forcing sensitivity: overlap between the central 90% of simulations for 2100 for RCP 8.5 (93–243 cm) and RCP 2.6 (26–98 cm) is minimal. By 2300, the gap between median GMSL estimates for RCP 8.5 and RCP 2.6 reaches >10 m, with median RSL projections for RCP 8.5 jeopardizing land now occupied by 950 million people (versus 167 million for RCP 2.6). The minimal correlation between the contribution of AIS to GMSL by 2050 and that in 2100 and beyond implies current sea-level observations cannot exclude future extreme outcomes. The sensitivity of post-2050 projections to deeply uncertain physics highlights the need for robust decision and adaptive management frameworks.
Plain Language Summary
Recent ice-sheet modeling papers have introduced new physical mechanisms—specifically the hydrofracturing of ice shelves and the collapse of ice cliffs—that can rapidly increase ice-sheet mass loss from a marine-based ice-sheet, as exists in much of Antarctica. This paper links new Antarctic model results into a sea-level rise projection framework to examine their influence on global and regional sea-level rise projections and their associated uncertainties, the potential impact of projected sea-level rise on areas currently occupied by human populations, and the implications of these projections for the ability to constrain future changes from present observations. Under a high greenhouse gas emission future, these new physical processes increase median projected 21st century GMSL rise from ∼80 to ∼150 cm. Revised median RSL projections for a high-emissions future would, without protective measures, by 2100 submerge land currently home to more than 153 million people. The use of a physical model indicates that emissions matter more for 21st century sea-level change than previous projections showed. Moreover, there is little correlation between the contribution of Antarctic to sea-level rise by 2050 and its contribution in 2100 and beyond, so current sea-level observations cannot exclude future extreme outcomes.
Canadian Arctic and Subarctic regions experience a rapid decrease of sea ice accompanied with increasing shipping traffic. The resulting time-space changes in shipping noise are studied for four key regions of this pristine environment, for 2013 traffic conditions and a hypothetical tenfold traffic increase. A probabilistic modeling and mapping framework, called Ramdam, which integrates the intrinsic variability and uncertainties of shipping noise and its effects on marine habitats, is developed and applied. A substantial transformation of soundscapes is observed in areas where shipping noise changes from present occasional-transient contributor to a dominant noise source. Examination of impacts on low-frequency mammals within ecologically and biologically significant areas reveals that shipping noise has the potential to trigger behavioral responses and masking in the future, although no risk of temporary or permanent hearing threshold shifts is noted. Such probabilistic modeling and mapping is strategic in marine spatial planning of this emerging noise issues.
Mid- to late-Holocene sea-level records from low-latitude regions serve as an important baseline of natural variability in sea level and global ice volume prior to the Anthropocene. Here, we reconstruct a high-resolution sea-level curve encompassing the last 6000 years based on a comprehensive study of coral microatolls, which are sensitive low-tide recorders. Our curve is based on microatolls from several islands in a single region and comprises a total of 82 sea-level index points. Assuming thermosteric contributions are negligible on millennial time scales, our results constrain global ice melting to be 1.5-2.5 m (sea-level equivalent)since ~5500 years before present. The reconstructed curve includes isolated rapid events of several decimetres within a few centuries, one of which is most likely related to loss from the Antarctic ice sheet mass around 5000 years before present. In contrast, the occurrence of large and flat microatolls indicates periods of significant sea-level stability lasting up to ~300 years
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires an ecosystem-based approach to assess the state of Europe's seas. To date, assessment is carried out on an indicator by indicator basis. Integration of indicators is required to undertake a more holistic assessment of the state of the marine environment. Here, an integrated approach to assess benthic habitats is proposed. Within this conceptual method, four OSPAR benthic habitat indicators relating to biodiversity (D1) and sea-floor integrity (D6) descriptors are linked together. For the integration, benthos, environmental and anthropogenic pressure data are required. State indicators are assessed along a gradient of pressure to facilitate threshold values to be quantified and provide advice on management measures. The method also includes a feedback system whereby best available evidence on benthos, its sensitivity and disturbance assessments can be replaced with ground-truthed data. The proposed method can be expanded to include other related indicators under the different descriptors (e.g. commercial fish and shellfish (D3), food webs (D4) and eutrophication (D5)) where relevant. The concept is a first step towards integration of benthic indicators and could be applied to monitoring requirements under other Directives such as the Habitat or Water Framework Directive.
Sharks are a diverse group of mobile predators that forage across varied spatial scales and have the potential to influence food web dynamics. The ecological consequences of recent declines in shark biomass may extend across broader geographic ranges if shark taxa display common behavioural traits. By tracking the original site of photosynthetic fixation of carbon atoms that were ultimately assimilated into muscle tissues of 5,394 sharks from 114 species, we identify globally consistent biogeographic traits in trophic interactions between sharks found in different habitats. We show that populations of shelf-dwelling sharks derive a substantial proportion of their carbon from regional pelagic sources, but contain individuals that forage within additional isotopically diverse local food webs, such as those supported by terrestrial plant sources, benthic production and macrophytes. In contrast, oceanic sharks seem to use carbon derived from between 30° and 50° of latitude. Global-scale compilations of stable isotope data combined with biogeochemical modelling generate hypotheses regarding animal behaviours that can be tested with other methodological approaches.
Over the past decade, the increasing demand for renewable energy has driven the rapid development of China's offshore wind industry. However, it is not clear to developers and management departments which types of sea areas can be used for offshore wind projects. According to the provincial marine functional zoning (MFZ), China's coastal provinces have put offshore wind zoning (OWZ) into practice. This paper clarifies the method of OWZ, collects the results from offshore wind zones (OWZs) of 10 coastal provinces, and assesses the characteristics of OWZs by area, functional attribute and distance from the coastline. The results show that most of the areas available for offshore wind are co-existence zones where offshore wind can be sited in an agricultural and fisheries zone, an industrial and urban construction zone, a special-use zone, etc. Currently, 47% of existing offshore wind projects have been located in the OWZs in the East China Sea. Moreover, parts of the coastline distance of OWZs do not meet the “double-ten principle” in China or global siting trends. Generally, the existing areas for OWZ would allow China to meet its national target by 2020, but measures still need to be taken to meet the demands of conservation and sea-use management.
In this paper, we highlight the importance of high-resolution wind data on the application of multicriteria evaluation technique to colocate offshore wind farms and open-water mussel cultivations. An index of colocation sustainability (SI), based on an environmental information, is constructed using remote sensing data and taking into account both physical constraints (i.e., water depth and wind speed) and environmental data (i.e., chlorophyll-a, sea surface temperature anomaly, and particulate organic carbon). To verify the proposed methodology, five showcases are presented, where SI is evaluated considering potential installation sites in Kattegat, Denmark, using both low-resolution (LR) wind reanalysis maps related to the Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Application data set and fine-resolution wind maps obtained by processing synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data. Experimental results show that the availability of a reliable fine-resolution wind information is of great importance in coastal areas where the presence of the land and the isles limits the use of LR wind data.
Rising seawater temperature and ocean acidification threaten the survival of coral reefs. The relationship between coral physiology and its microbiome may reveal why some corals are more resilient to these global change conditions. Here, we conducted the first experiment to simultaneously investigate changes in the coral microbiome and coral physiology in response to the dual stress of elevated seawater temperature and ocean acidification expected by the end of this century. Two species of corals, Acropora millepora containing the thermally sensitive endosymbiont C21a and Turbinaria reniformis containing the thermally tolerant endosymbiont Symbiodinium trenchi, were exposed to control (26.5°C and pCO2 of 364 μatm) and treatment (29.0°C and pCO2 of 750 μatm) conditions for 24 days, after which we measured the microbial community composition. These microbial findings were interpreted within the context of previously published physiological measurements from the exact same corals in this study (calcification, organic carbon flux, ratio of photosynthesis to respiration, photosystem II maximal efficiency, total lipids, soluble animal protein, soluble animal carbohydrates, soluble algal protein, soluble algal carbohydrate, biomass, endosymbiotic algal density, and chlorophyll a). Overall, dually stressed A. millepora had reduced microbial diversity, experienced large changes in microbial community composition, and experienced dramatic physiological declines in calcification, photosystem II maximal efficiency, and algal carbohydrates. In contrast, the dually stressed coral T. reniformis experienced a stable and more diverse microbiome community with minimal physiological decline, coupled with very high total energy reserves and particulate organic carbon release rates. Thus, the microbiome changed and microbial diversity decreased in the physiologically sensitive coral with the thermally sensitive endosymbiotic algae but not in the physiologically tolerant coral with the thermally tolerant endosymbiont. Our results confirm recent findings that temperature-stress tolerant corals have a more stable microbiome, and demonstrate for the first time that this is also the case under the dual stresses of ocean warming and acidification. We propose that coral with a stable microbiome are also more physiologically resilient and thus more likely to persist in the future, and shape the coral species diversity of future reef ecosystems.
Tropical reef systems are transitioning to a new era in which the interval between recurrent bouts of coral bleaching is too short for a full recovery of mature assemblages. We analyzed bleaching records at 100 globally distributed reef locations from 1980 to 2016. The median return time between pairs of severe bleaching events has diminished steadily since 1980 and is now only 6 years. As global warming has progressed, tropical sea surface temperatures are warmer now during current La Niña conditions than they were during El Niño events three decades ago. Consequently, as we transition to the Anthropocene, coral bleaching is occurring more frequently in all El Niño–Southern Oscillation phases, increasing the likelihood of annual bleaching in the coming decades.
Oceans are essential to human survival and prosperity, yet our activities are pushing many critical marine species toward extinction. Marine biologists suggest that the best way to maintain the oceans’ diversity, abundance and resilience is to protect marine life in their ecosystems, especially in marine protected areas (MPAs) that minimize extractive activities such as fishing, mining and oil and gas development.
However, numerous MPAs lack the regulations and design characteristics critical to ensuring they successfully safeguard marine life. No-take marine reserves, in contrast, prohibit all extractive activities and deliver the conservation benefits that marine life need to thrive. Protecting biodiversity in marine reserves increases the abundance and diversity of marine life exported to surrounding areas, both securing food resources for millions of people and preventing loss of species. In this report we group these fully protected no-take marine reserves with large and isolated strongly protected MPAs3 where commercial extraction is prohibited, recreational fishing is by permit, carefully managed and highly restrictive, and subsistence use is minimal.
SeaStates is a rigorous, quantitative account of strongly protected MPAs in the waters of US coastal states and territories updated annually by the team at the Atlas of Marine Protection (mpatlas.org). First published in 2013, our annual reports are intended to be a tool to measure and evaluate the progress towards effective marine protection in US waters.