Understanding which species and ecosystems will be most severely affected by warming as climate change advances is important for guiding conservation and management. Both marine and terrestrial fauna have been affected by warming1,2 but an explicit comparison of physiological sensitivity between the marine and terrestrial realms has been lacking. Assessing how close populations live to their upper thermal limits has been challenging, in part because extreme temperatures frequently drive demographic responses3,4 and yet fauna can use local thermal refugia to avoid extremes5,6,7. Here we show that marine ectotherms experience hourly body temperatures that are closer to their upper thermal limits than do terrestrial ectotherms across all latitudes—but that this is the case only if terrestrial species can access thermal refugia. Although not a direct prediction of population decline, this thermal safety margin provides an index of the physiological stress caused by warming. On land, the smallest thermal safety margins were found for species at mid-latitudes where the hottest hourly body temperatures occurred; by contrast, the marine species with the smallest thermal safety margins were found near the equator. We also found that local extirpations related to warming have been twice as common in the ocean as on land, which is consistent with the smaller thermal safety margins at sea. Our results suggest that different processes will exacerbate thermal vulnerability across these two realms. Higher sensitivities to warming and faster rates of colonization in the marine realm suggest that extirpations will be more frequent and species turnover faster in the ocean. By contrast, terrestrial species appear to be more vulnerable to loss of access to thermal refugia, which would make habitat fragmentation and changes in land use critical drivers of species loss on land.
Several calls to action urge scientists and science communicators to engage more with online communities. While these calls have been answered by a high percentage of scientists and science communicators online, it often remains unclear what are the best models for effective communication. Best practices and methods for online science communication can benefit from experimental and quantitative research addressing how and when users engage with online content. This study addresses with quantitative and predictive models a key question for the popular, but often-ignored in science communication, social media platform Facebook. Specifically, this study examines the impact of imagery through quantification of likes, comments, and shares on Facebook posts. Here, I show that a basic quantitative model can be useful in predicting response to marine organism imagery on Facebook. The results of this online experiment suggest image type, novelty, and aesthetics impact the number of likes, shares, and comments on a post. In addition, the likes, shares, and comments on images did not follow traditional definitions of “charismatic megafauna”, with cephalopods and bony fishes receiving more interactions than cartilaginous fishes and marine mammals. Length and quality of caption did not significantly impact likes, comments, or shares. This study provides one of the first quantitative analysis of virality of scientific images via social media. The results challenge previously held conceptions of social media scientific outreach including increasing emphasis on imagery selection and curation, notions of which taxa the public connect with, and role of captions for imagery.
There is growing empirical evidence around the world demonstrating regime shifts of marine ecosystems. But generalizable criteria to detect and define regime shifts are elusive because of: (i) an incomplete scientific understanding of processes underlying regime shifts; (ii) because the baseline state and conditions are ill defined, and; (iii) due to an inherent ambiguity in the concept of system identity. We surveyed marine scientists in Tasmania, Australia, and determined the effect of changing conditions (including type of climate impact, species loss, species composition, spatio-temporal extent, and human intervention) on their perception of marine regime shift. We find, there is an objective difficulty in detecting regime shifts that goes beyond scientific uncertainty and there is disagreement on which configurations of change indeed constitute a regime shift. Furthermore, this difference of opinion was not related to the degree of confidence that scientists indicated when identifying regime shifts. This lack of consensus and seemingly unrelated scientific confidence, may be attributable to value ambiguity around people s attitudes, cognitive biases, and baseline shift. When applying evidenced-based reference points in well-reasoned Ecosystem Based Management, there should be scientific consensus on the manifestation and extent of specific regime shifts, and recognition of value ambiguities influencing scientific perceptions.
Change is inherent in coastal systems, which are amongst the most dynamic ones on Earth. Increasing anthropogenic pressure on coastal zones interferes with natural coastal dynamics and can cause ecosystem imbalances that render the zones less stable. Furthermore, human occupation of coastal zones often requires an uncharacteristic degree of stability for these inherently dynamic coastal systems. Coastal management teams face multifaceted challenges in protecting, rehabilitating and conserving coastal systems. Diverse monitoring schemes and modelling tools have been developed to address these challenges. In this article, we explore various perspectives: the integration of biophysical, ecological and social components; the uncertainties of diverse data sources; and the development of flexible coastal interventions. We propose general criteria and guidance for an Ecosystem-based Management (EbM) to coastal management, which aims primarily at adaptation to global change and uncertainties, and to managing and integrating social aspects and biophysical components based on the flows of energy and matter.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) represent the main tool for halting the loss of marine biodiversity. However, there is increasing evidence concerning their limited capacity to reduce or eliminate some threats even within their own boundaries. Here, we analysed a Europe-wide dataset comprising 31,579 threats recorded in 1692 sites of the European Union's Natura 2000 conservation network. Focusing specifically on threats related to marine species and habitats, we found that fishing and outdoor activities were the most widespread threats reported within MPA boundaries, although some spatial heterogeneity in the distribution of threats was apparent. Our results clearly demonstrate the need to reconsider current management plans, standardise monitoring approaches and reporting, refine present threat assessments and improve knowledge of their spatial patterns within and outside MPAs in order to improve conservation capacity and outcomes.
Full no-take marine reserves (MRs) act as tools for biodiversity protection that reduce or remove human-induced disturbances and support the recovery of harvested species. Even if not designed specifically for fisheries management, MRs have the potential to enhance locally and distantly fished populations. This study quantified contemporary catch per unit effort (CPUE) of rock lobsters (RLs) with respect to weight and abundance inside and outside two central New Zealand MRs (Kapiti MR established in 1992, Taputeranga MR established in 2008) using commercial fishing methods (pots), and compared it to historical CPUE data. On average, mean CPUE and mean RL size were significantly greater inside than outside at both MRs. Contemporary CPUE at both MRs was approximately twice that of historical CPUE prior to the reserves being established. At Taputeranga, but not at Kapiti MR, we observed a gradient in CPUE with distance from the centre of the reserve. MRs had higher CPUE at reefs that were fully protected (entire reef in the MR) than at partially protected reefs (reef spans the MR boundary), which in turn had higher CPUE than unprotected reefs (entire reef outside the MR). Our results indicate that RL populations are responding positively to protection, but that factors such as the amount of reef area protected and proximity to reserve boundary contribute differently to RL responses. Our findings contribute to the design of MRs with respect to the habitat they protect and to a better understanding of the interactions between MRs and local fisheries.
Whale watching has boomed as a global tourist industry over the last three decades, bringing with it considerable economic gains to the local communities in which it operates, many of which are in less developed economies. However, it has also brought considerable biological harm to the cetacean populations exposed, which has led the International Whaling Commission to advocate for greater enforcement of established guidelines regulating the behaviour of operators. In this paper, a two-stage static common agency model is developed to assess the likely effectiveness of both heightened external enforcement and the alternative course of action of utilising whale-watching tourists as internal enforcers of established regulatory guidelines. The outcome strongly favours the alternative as being the most effective course of action.
Mangrove forests provide critical services around the globe to both human populations and the ecosystems they occupy. However, losses of mangrove habitat of more than 50% have been recorded in some parts of the world, and these losses are largely attributable to human activities. The importance of mangroves and the threats to their persistence have long been recognized, leading to actions taken locally, by national governments, and through international agreements for their protection. In this review, we explore the status of mangrove forests as well as efforts to protect them. We examine threats to the persistence of mangroves, consequences, and potential solutions for effective conservation. We present case studies from disparate regions of the world, showing that the integration of human livelihood needs in a manner that balances conservation goals can present solutions that could lead to long-term sustainability of mangrove forests throughout the world.
Laboratory studies that test the responses of coastal organisms to ocean acidification (OA) typically use constant pH regimes which do not reflect coastal systems, such as seaweed beds, where pH fluctuates on diel cycles. Seaweeds that use CO2 as their sole inorganic carbon source (non-carbon dioxide concentrating mechanism species) are predicted to benefit from OA as concentrations of dissolved CO2 increase, yet this prediction has rarely been tested, and no studies have tested the effect of pH fluctuations on non-CCM seaweeds. We conducted a laboratory experiment in which two ecologically dominant non-CCM red seaweeds (Callophyllis lambertii and Plocamium dilatatum) were exposed to four pH treatments: two static, pHT 8.0 and 7.7 and two fluctuating, pHT 8.0 ± 0.3 and 7.7 ± 0.3. Fluctuating pH reduced growth and net photosynthesis in C. lambertii, while P. dilatatum was unaffected. OA did not benefit P. dilatatum, while C. lambertii displayed elevated net photosynthetic rates. We provide evidence that carbon uptake strategy alone cannot be used as a predictor of seaweed responses to OA and highlight the importance of species-specific sensitivity to [H+]. We also emphasize the importance of including realistic pH fluctuations in experimental studies on coastal organisms.
A social-ecological system approach has been applied to measure the complexity of sustainable tourism development on small islands. In general, tourism development and ecosystem management have been shown to be relatively unbalanced. Tourism development attempts have not yet been accompanied by environmental management efforts. In this paper, the social-ecological status is measured to improve the sustainable development mechanism with appropriate indicators. Using the Gili Matra Islands as a case study, the social-ecological status of tourism in the region was examined using the social-ecological status index (SESI), a coupling index of the coastal waters quality index (CWQI), the coordination degree model (CCDM) and the index of information entropy weight (IEW) as tools for measuring and evaluating the social-ecological status and sustainable development of small island tourism.
Based on the Mare Nostrum programme; Project entitled: A heritage trail along the Phoenician maritime routes and historic port-cities of the Mediterranean Sea. This paper aimed at opening discussions concerning a new strategy of integrated tourism planning based on improving the competitive potential of tourist destinations in the Syrian coastal region within land/marine space alike. It is basically to reach a sustainable tourism industry, which could constitute the skeleton of the regional economy. When a step-by-step approach is adopted, including interviews and a questionnaire for a specific sample of respondents, then the TOWS matrix is applied to analyse the information collected, in parallel with the use of quantitative data from relevant directorates in the creation of regional tourism charts. Finally, the data were adapted to build the proposed scenario “2 + 1 Corridors and One Ring” for spatial tourism planning “STP”. Thus, three corridors emanate from the region’s marine gateways; two land corridors directed towards the regional interior to achieve an urban-rural integrated tourism planning as a non-partial unit, while the tourist investment corridor runs towards the marine space. The scenario completes by interaction/integration between these three corridors in one regional tourism network “tourist ring within Mediterranean series”. Hence, this paper is considered as one of the future directive bottom-up approaches to upgrading into multi-gateways tourist ring in the post-war stage for international tourist connecting ports. Therefore, this scenario could be classified as a policy to convey knowledge and culture between nations “Tourism for Peace”.
Sea turtle populations are often assessed at the regional to sub-basin scale from discrete indices of nesting abundance. While this may be practical and sometimes effective, widespread in-water surveys may enhance assessments by including additional demographics, locations, and revealing emerging population trends. Here, we describe sea turtle observations from 13 years of towed-diver surveys across 53 coral islands, atolls, and reefs in the Central, West, and South Pacific. These surveys covered more than 7,300 linear km, and observed more than 3,400 green (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) sea turtles. From these data, we estimated sea turtle densities, described trends across space and time, and modelled the influence of environmental and anthropogenic drivers. Both species were patchily distributed across spatial scales, and green turtles were 11 times more abundant than hawksbills. The Pacific Remote Island Areas had the highest densities of greens (3.62 turtles km-1, Jarvis Island), while American Samoa had the most hawksbills (0.12 turtles km-1, Ta’u Island). The Hawaiian Islands had the lowest turtle densities (island ave = 0.07 turtles km-1) yet the highest annual population growth (μ = 0.08, σ = 0.22), suggesting extensive management protections can yield positive conservation results. Densities peaked at 27.5°C SST, in areas of high productivity and low human impact, and were consistent with patterns of historic overexploitation. Though such intensive surveys have great value, they are logistically demanding and therefore have an uncertain budget and programmatic future. We hope the methods we described here may be applied to future comparatively low-cost surveys either with autonomous vehicles or with environmental DNA.
Climate change and associated sea-level rise alongside the potential for alterations in the magnitude and frequency of extreme storm events, rapidly rising coastal populations, and a legacy of coastal land reclamation are forcing the need for sustainable coastal protection on shallow, wetland-dominated coasts. In this context, practitioners, and academics in the field of coastal flood and erosion risk reduction have been highlighting the flood protection value of natural coastal features for some time. Examples of the implementation of nature-based coastal flood and erosion risk reduction schemes, however, are few and far between and can certainly not (yet) be considered mainstream. One key problem around the implementation of these types of approaches has arguably been the relative lack of perceived scientific certainty around the efficiency with which natural landforms, such as coastal wetlands, reduce wave action on landward lying structures and the persistence of such landforms in an uncertain future. This makes nature-inclusive approaches less attractive to more traditional engineering-only approaches that rely solely on one “hard” structure with a well-defined impact on waves and a specified design life. Using the example of wave dissipation over coastal wetland surfaces, this paper provides a way forward for an easily applicable scientifically informed assessment of the minimum difference any given wetland makes to wave heights at landward locations. Such a “minimum function” approach could be rolled out to other ecosystem services provided by natural features and thus allow decision makers and coastal planners to consider nature-inclusive approaches to coastal management with greater confidence.
The effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on the conservation of species, habitats, and processes has been largely studied. However, although parasites play a key role in the ecology of marine ecosystems, the effect of MPAs on host‐parasite relationships remains poorly understood. In order to characterize prevalence and host specificity of the widely distributed parasitic isopod Anilocra physodes, as well as the effect of MPAs on these parameters, a study based on visual census of fishes (repeated at two different study periods) and angling was conducted in the Alboran Sea (Western Mediterranean). Despite the wide diversity of potential hosts, A. physodes was only found associated with the sparid fish Lithognathus mormyrus. A significant relationship between the length of the host and the parasite was detected. While similar host densities were recorded inside and outside the MPA, parasitic prevalence was significantly lower inside the MPA. These differences among MPAs and non‐MPAs in parasite prevalence and host availability, as well as the strong host specificity pattern, were consistent throughout time. Anthropogenic pressures, host size, and cleaning interactions are proposed to be potential factors involved in the observed lower parasitization levels inside the MPA. This study highlights that the protection status of marine areas can drive constant changes in parasitic prevalence.
Issues related to protection of the Arctic environment are becoming increasingly urgent, as arctic ecosystems are vulnerable to increasing anthropogenic pressures. The problem of protecting Northern nature from the effects of persistent organic pollutants, which are dangerous for both biota and human health, is particularly acute. This case study analyses the existing normative acts regulating monitoring activities in the Russian Arctic. The paper emphasizes gaps in legal regulation, which are particularly prominent with regard to monitoring the quality of traditional food consumed by indigenous peoples. The author introduces proposals to change the current legislation to improve the efficiency of the state monitoring system in the Russian Arctic. Such changes will also help to harmonize monitoring activities in Russia with other Arctic States and to fill in the gaps in the Global Monitoring Reports and the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) reports on persistent organic pollutants in traditional indigenous food.
Marine biodiversity and derived ecosystem services are critical to the healthy functioning of marine ecosystems, and to human economic and societal well-being. Thus, an understanding of marine biodiversity in different ecosystems is necessary for their conservation and management. Coral reefs in particular are noted for their high levels of biodiversity, and among the world’s coral reefs, the subtropical Ryukyu Islands (RYS; also known as the Nansei Islands) in Japan have been shown to harbor very high levels of marine biodiversity. This study provides an overview of the state of marine biodiversity research in the RYS. First, we examined the amount of English language scientific literature in the Web of Science (WoS; 1995–2017) on six selected representative taxa spanning protists to vertebrates across six geographic sub-regions in the RYS. Our results show clear taxonomic and sub-region bias, with research on Pisces, Cnidaria, and Crustacea to be much more common than on Dinoflagellata, Echinodermata, and Mollusca. Such research was more commonly conducted in sub-regions with larger human populations (Okinawa, Yaeyama). Additional analyses with the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) records show that within sub-regions, records are concentrated in areas directly around marine research stations and institutes (if present), further showing geographical bias within sub-regions. While not surprising, the results indicate a need to address ‘understudied’ taxa in ‘understudied sub-regions’ (Tokara, Miyako, Yakutane, Amami Oshima), particularly sub-regions away from marine research stations. Second, we compared the numbers of English language scientific papers on eight ecological topics for the RYS with numbers from selected major coral reef regions of the world; the Caribbean (CAR), Great Barrier Reef (GBR), and the Red Sea (RES). As expected, the numbers for all topics in the RYS were well below numbers from all other regions, yet within this disparity, research in the RYS on ‘marine protected areas’ and ‘herbivory’ was an order of magnitude lower than numbers in other regions. Additionally, while manuscript numbers on the RYS have increased from 1995 to 2016, the rate of increase (4.0 times) was seen to be lower than those in the CAR, RES, and GBR (4.6–8.4 times). Coral reefs in the RYS feature high levels of both endemism and anthropogenic threats, and subsequently they contain a concentration of some of the world’s most critically endangered marine species. To protect these threatened species and coral reef ecosystems, more data are needed to fill the research gaps identified in this study.
Ecosystem-based management approaches are increasingly used to address the critical linkages between human and biophysical systems. Yet, many of the social-ecological systems (SES) frameworks typically used in coastal and marine management neither represent the social and ecological aspects of the system in equal breadth or depth, nor do they adequately operationalize the social, or human, dimensions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s West Hawai‘i Integrated Ecosystem Assessment, a program grounded in ecosystem-based management, recognizes the importance of place-based human dimensions in coastal and marine resource management that speak to a fuller range of social and cultural dimensions of ecosystem-based management. Previous work with stakeholders in West Hawai‘i revealed noteworthy SES dynamics and highlighted both the importance and lack of understanding of the links between ecosystem services and human well-being, particularly services that enhance and maintain active cultural connections to a place. While cultural ecosystem services and human well-being are often recognized as important elements of SES, there have been substantial barriers to fully representing them, likely due to perceived difficulties of measuring non-material benefits and values, many of which are socially constructed and subjective. This study examined SES frameworks related to cultural ecosystem services and human well-being to advance the representation and operationalization of these important concepts in coastal and marine management. We describe key insights and questions focused on: (1) points of inclusion for human dimensions in SES models, (2) culturally relevant domains of human well-being and related indicators, (3) the importance of place and its interaction with scale, and finally (4) the tension between a gestalt vs. discrete approach to modeling, assessing, and sustainably managing social-ecological systems.
Digital photography is widely used by coral reef monitoring programs to assess benthic status and trends. In addition to creating a permanent archive, photographic surveys can be rapidly conducted, which is important in environments where bottom-time is frequently limiting. However, substantial effort is required to manually analyze benthic images; which is expensive and leads to lags before data are available. Using previously analyzed imagery from NOAA’s Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program, we assessed the capacity of a trained and widely used machine-learning image analysis tool – CoralNet coralnet.ucsd.edu – to generate fully-automated benthic cover estimates for the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) and American Samoa. CoralNet was able to generate estimates of site-level coral cover for both regions that were highly comparable to those generated by human analysts (Pearson’s r > 0.97, and with bias of 1% or less). CoralNet was generally effective at estimating cover of common coral genera (Pearson’s r > 0.92 and with bias of 2% or less in 6 of 7 cases), but performance was mixed for other groups including algal categories, although generally better for American Samoa than MHI. CoralNet performance was improved by simplifying the classification scheme from genus to functional group and by training within habitat types, i.e., separately for coral-rich, pavement, boulder, or “other” habitats. The close match between human-generated and CoralNet-generated estimates of coral cover pooled to the scale of island and year demonstrates that CoralNet is capable of generating data suitable for assessing spatial and temporal patterns. The imagery we used was gathered from sites randomly located in <30 m hard-bottom at multiple islands and habitat-types per region, suggesting our results are likely to be widely applicable. As image acquisition is relatively straightforward, the capacity of fully-automated image analysis tools to minimize the need for resource intensive human analysts opens possibilities for enormous increases in the quantity and consistency of coral reef benthic data that could become available to researchers and managers.
Declining natural resources have contributed to a cultural renaissance across the Pacific that seeks to revive customary ridge‐to‐reef management approaches to protect freshwater and restore abundant coral reef fisheries. We applied a linked land–sea modeling framework based on remote sensing and empirical data, which couples groundwater nutrient export and coral reef models at fine spatial resolution. This spatially explicit (60 × 60 m) framework simultaneously tracks changes in multiple benthic and fish indicators as a function of community‐led marine closures, land‐use and climate change scenarios. We applied this framework in Hā‘ena and Ka‘ūpūlehu, located at opposite ends of the Hawaiian Archipelago to investigate the effects of coastal development and marine closures on coral reefs in the face of climate change. Our results indicated that projected coastal development and bleaching can result in a significant decrease in benthic habitat quality and community‐led marine closures can result in a significant increase in fish biomass. In general, Ka‘ūpūlehu is more vulnerable to land‐based nutrients and coral bleaching than Hā‘ena due to high coral cover and limited dilution and mixing from low rainfall and wave power, except for the shallow and wave‐sheltered back‐reef areas of Hā‘ena, which support high coral cover and act as nursery habitat for fishes. By coupling spatially explicit land–sea models with scenario planning, we identified priority areas on land where upgrading cesspools can reduce human impacts on coral reefs in the face of projected climate change impacts.
The degradation of coastal habitats, particularly coral reefs, raises risks by increasing the exposure of coastal communities to flooding hazards. The protective services of these natural defenses are not assessed in the same rigorous economic terms as artificial defenses, such as seawalls, and therefore often are not considered in decision making. Here we combine engineering, ecologic, geospatial, social, and economic tools to provide a rigorous valuation of the coastal protection benefits of all U.S. coral reefs in the States of Hawaiʻi and Florida, the territories of Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. We follow risk-based valuation approaches to map flood zones at 10-square-meter resolution along all 3,100+ kilometers of U.S. reef-lined shorelines for different storm probabilities to account for the effect of coral reefs in reducing coastal flooding. We quantify the coastal flood risk reduction benefits provided by coral reefs across storm return intervals using the latest information from the U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Bureau of Economic Analysis to identify their annual expected benefits, a measure of the annual protection provided by coral reefs. Based on these results, the annual protection provided by U.S. coral reefs is estimated in:
- avoided flooding to more than 18,180 people;
- avoided direct flood damages of more than $825 million to more than 5,694 buildings;
- avoided flooding to more than 33 critical infrastructure facilities, including essential facilities, utility systems, and transportation systems; and
- avoided indirect damages of more than $699 million in economic activity of individuals and more than $272 million in avoided business interruption annually.
Thus, the annual value of flood risk reduction provided by U.S. coral reefs is more than 18,000 lives and $1.805 billion in 2010 U.S. dollars. These data provide stakeholders and decision makers with spatially explicit, rigorous valuation of how, where, and when U.S. coral reefs provide critical coastal storm flood reduction benefits. The overall goal is to ultimately reduce the risk to, and increase the resiliency of, U.S. coastal communities.