Meta-analyses of field studies have shown that biomass, density, species richness, and size of organisms protected by no-take marine reserves generally increase over time. The magnitude and timing of changes in these response variables, however, vary greatly and depend upon the taxonomic groups protected, size and type of reserve, oceanographic regime, and time since the reserve was implemented. We conducted collaborative, fishery-independent surveys of fishes for seven years in and near newly created marine protected areas (MPAs) in central California, USA. Results showed that initially most MPAs contained more and larger fishes than associated reference sites, likely due to differences in habitat quality. The differences between MPAs and reference sites did not greatly change over the seven years of our study, indicating that reserve benefits will be slow to accumulate in California’s temperate eastern boundary current. Fishes in an older reserve that has been closed to fishing since 1973, however, were significantly more abundant and larger than those in associated reference sites. This indicates that reserve benefits are likely to accrue in the California Current ecosystem, but that 20 years or more may be needed to detect significant changes in response variables that are due to MPA implementation. Because of the high spatial and temporal variability of fish recruitment patterns, long-term monitoring is needed to identify positive responses of fishes to protection in the diverse set of habitats in a dynamic eastern boundary current. Qualitative estimates of response variables, such as would be obtained from an expert opinion process, are unlikely to provide an accurate description of MPA performance. Similarly, using one species or one MPA as an indicator is unlikely to provide sufficient resolution to accurately describe the performance of multiple MPAs.
Global sustainability challenges, from maintaining biodiversity to providing clean air and water, are closely interconnected yet often separately studied and managed. Systems integration—holistic approaches to integrating various components of coupled human and natural systems—is critical to understand socioeconomic and environmental interconnections and to create sustainability solutions. Recent advances include the development and quantification of integrated frameworks that incorporate ecosystem services, environmental footprints, planetary boundaries, human-nature nexuses, and telecoupling. Although systems integration has led to fundamental discoveries and practical applications, further efforts are needed to incorporate more human and natural components simultaneously, quantify spillover systems and feedbacks, integrate multiple spatial and temporal scales, develop new tools, and translate findings into policy and practice. Such efforts can help address important knowledge gaps, link seemingly unconnected challenges, and inform policy and management decisions.
As the impact of anthropogenic activity and climate change continue to accelerate rates of degradation on Caribbean coral reefs, conservation and restoration faces greater challenges. At this stage, it is of particular importance in coral reefs to recognize and to understand the structural spatial patterns of benthic assemblages. We developed a field-based framework of a Caribbean reefscape benthic structure by using hermatypic corals as an indicator group of global biodiversity and bio-construction patterns in 11 reefs of the northern sector of the mesoamerican barrier reef system (nsMBRS). Four hundred and seventy four video-transects (50 m long by 0.4 m wide) were performed throughout a gradient of reef complexity from north to south (~400 km) to identify coral species, families and ensembles of corals. Composition and abundance of species, families and ensembles showed differences among reefs. In the northern zone, the reefs had shallow, partial reef developments with low diversities, dominated by Acropora palmata, Siderastrea spp., Pseudodiploria strigosa, and Agaricia tenuifolia. In the central and southern zones, reefs presented extensive developments, high habitat heterogeneity, and the greatest diversity and dominance of Orbicella annularis and Orbicella faveolata. These two species determined the structure and diversity of corals in the central and southern zones of the nsMBRS and their bio-construction in these zones is unique in the Caribbean. Their abundance and distribution depended on the reef habitat area, topographic complexity and species richness. Orbicella species complex were crucial for maintaining the biodiversity and bio-construction of the central and southern zones while A. palmata in the northern zones of the nsMBRS.
A commonly used landscape model to simulate wetland change – the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) – has rarely been explicitly assessed for its prediction accuracy. Here, we evaluated this model using recently proposed neutral models – including the random constraint match model (RCM) and growing cluster model (GrC), which consider the initial landscape conditions instead of starting with a blank or randomized initial map as traditional neutral models do. Thus, the SLAMM's performance, due to processes accounted for in the model, could be more accurately assessed. RCM allocates change randomly in space, while in the GrC, change allocation is prioritized at the locations with pairs of to-be-increased land type and to-be-reduced land type adjacent to each other. The metrics we applied to evaluate the SLAMM vs. the neutral models accounted for five main components in map comparison: (1) reference change simulated correctly as change (hits), (2) reference persistence simulated correctly as persistence (correct rejections), (3) reference change simulated incorrectly as change to the wrong category (wrong hits), (4) reference change simulated incorrectly as persistence (misses), and (5) reference persistence simulated incorrectly as change (false alarms). These methods improved the way that we currently evaluate land change models, where we either do not compare to a neutral model, or the neutral model does not have the same boundary conditions and constraints as the assessed dynamics models. The results showed that the SLAMM could simulate wetland change more accurately compared to the GrC and RCM at a 10-year time step for the lower Pascagoula River basin, Mississippi, with higher hits and correct rejections, and lower misses and false alarms. The magnitude of simulated changes using the SLAMM was 46% of reference changes. The number of wrong hits for the SLAMM was also lower than those for the neutral models after combining some land or water types into broader categories. After the aggregation, the SLAMM performance improved substantially. How the errors of this relatively short-term simulation propagate into longer-term predictions requires further investigation. This study also showed the importance of implementing elevation data with high vertical accuracy, and conducting local calibration when we apply the SLAMM.
Increasing numbers of visitors in marine environments have resulted in a growing importance of social impact understanding such as crowding. This study examines perceived crowding of divers and whale watching tourists in the Azores. Reported encounters and encounter norms for both whale watching boats and divers were studied and minimum acceptable conditions for both activities determined. Perceived crowding was not correlated to specialization of users and only impacted the overall satisfaction of divers. The satisfaction of whale watchers was not altered through perceived crowding. Environmental impacts were not perceived differently by participants reporting different levels of crowding. The five different case study islands showed different levels of crowding. Management interventions to contribute to sustainable and satisfactory marine wildlife experiences include spatial zoning, achieving higher compliance with existing regulations, improved educational and awareness programs and limiting the number of divers at some dive sites.
Governance has long been identified as a crucial part of solving environmental problems. Effective governance supports and encourages adaptive capacity to maintain or improve the conditions of socio-ecological systems. As coastal zones are among the most vulnerable systems to climate change impacts (e.g. sea-level rise), the adaptive capacity of coastal communities to climate change threats will be critical. Human populations will respond both directly and indirectly to these threats and impacts; for instance by adapting resource use and practices (e.g. changing fish targets). In this paper, we apply definitions of resilience, adaptive capacity and vulnerability to the coastal zone socio-ecological system. We focus on organizations and management aspects of governance in coastal Australia. Our approach combines a literature review that highlights key organizational drivers that supports adaptive capacity with interview data from senior resource managers from organizations from across Australia to test the validity of such drivers. The key drivers related to organizational and management issues that are required to build and strengthen the adaptive capacity of Australian coastal communities are: (a) Leadership; (b) Clear responsibilities and flexible organizational framework; (c) Effective integration of knowledge and insights; (d) Learning approach to natural resource management; and (e) Human capacity and coordinated participation in decision-making. Our study showed that natural resource management organizations are clearly concerned about future changes and uncertainties and recognize the need for cooperation and good organizational drivers. However, integration of knowledge and long-term planning to deal with predicted changes in climate is largely lacking; and mismatches between management, organizational and ecosystem boundaries and processes also exist.
Integrated coastal management (ICM) has been introduced and promoted globally for nearly half a century. About 12% of China’s coastline has now come under the ICM governance framework to address the environmental and management challenges. To test the effectiveness of ICM in China, three coastal cities that adopted the ICM framework were selected as case studies. The ICM indicators in terms of governance, environment and socioeconomic aspects were designed for quantitatively evaluating the ICM performance over a 9-year period from 2004 to 2012.The results showed that ICM performance based on governance, coastal environment and socioeconomic aspects in the three improved, indicating that the ICM approach can be effective in promoting the overall sustainability of China’s coastal cities.
Despite potentially considerable advantages over traditional sampling techniques, image-derived indices of habitat complexity have rarely been used to predict patterns in marine biodiversity. Advantages include increased speed and coverage of sampling, avoidance of destructive sampling, and substantially reduced processing time compared to traditional taxonomic approaches, thus providing a starting point for more detailed analysis if warranted. In this study, we test the idea that the mean information gain (MIG) and mean mutual information (MMI), two indices of image heterogeneity that we derived from photographs of marine benthic assemblages, represent good preliminary predictors of biodiversity patterns for 133 benthic invertebrate and algal taxa on jetty pylons in Gulf St Vincent, South Australia. Both MIG and MMI were spatially structured, with evidence of among-site differences that were also evident in the benthic data. When combined with information on the spatial structure within the dataset (site and depth), MIG and MMI explained ∼35% of deviance in invertebrate species richness, ∼43% in Shannon's evenness and up to 50% of dissimilarity in species composition. This explanatory power is of a similar magnitude to many other, less readily available, surrogate measures of biodiversity. These results corroborate the idea that indices of image heterogeneity can provide useful and cost-effective complements to traditional methods used for describing (or predicting) marine epibiota biodiversity patterns. This approach can be applied to many case studies for which photographic data are available, and has the potential to result in substantial time and cost savings.
This paper proposes a framework for risk analysis of maritime transportation systems, where risk analysis is understood as a tool for argumentative decision support. Uncertainty is given a more prominent role than in the current state of art in the maritime transportation application area, and various tools are presented for analyzing uncertainty. A two-stage risk description is applied. In the first stage, Bayesian Network (BN) modeling is applied for probabilistic risk quantification. The model functions as a communication and argumentation tool, serving as an aid to thinking in a qualitative evidence and assumption effect assessment. The evidence assessment is used together with a sensitivity analysis to select alternative hypotheses for the risk quantification, while the assumption effect assessment is used to convey an argumentation beyond the model. Based on this, a deliberative uncertainty judgment is made in the second risk analysis stage, which is supplemented with a global strength of evidence assessment. The framework is applied to a case study of oil spill from tanker collisions, aimed at response capacity planning and ecological risk assessment. The BN-model is a proactive and transferable tool for assessing the occurrence of various spill sizes in a sea area. While the case study uses evidence specific to the Gulf of Finland, the model and risk analysis approach can be applied to other areas. Based on evaluation criteria and tests for the risk model and risk analysis, it is found that the model is a plausible representation of tanker collision oil spill risk.
Networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) are being adopted globally to protect ecosystems and supplement fisheries management. The state of California recently implemented a coast-wide network of MPAs, a statewide seafloor mapping program, and ecological characterizations of species and ecosystems targeted for protection by the network. The main goals of this study were to use these data to evaluate how well seafloor features, as proxies for habitats, are represented and replicated across an MPA network and how well ecological surveys representatively sampled fish habitats inside MPAs and adjacent reference sites. Seafloor data were classified into broad substrate categories (rock and sediment) and finer scale geomorphic classifications standard to marine classification schemes using surface analyses (slope, ruggedness, etc.) done on the digital elevation model derived from multibeam bathymetry data. These classifications were then used to evaluate the representation and replication of seafloor structure within the MPAs and across the ecological surveys. Both the broad substrate categories and the finer scale geomorphic features were proportionately represented for many of the classes with deviations of 1-6% and 0-7%, respectively. Within MPAs, however, representation of seafloor features differed markedly from original estimates, with differences ranging up to 28%. Seafloor structure in the biological monitoring design had mismatches between sampling in the MPAs and their corresponding reference sites and some seafloor structure classes were missed entirely. The geomorphic variables derived from multibeam bathymetry data for these analyses are known determinants of the distribution and abundance of marine species and for coastal marine biodiversity. Thus, analyses like those performed in this study can be a valuable initial method of evaluating and predicting the conservation value of MPAs across a regional network.
Beyond recreation, little attention has been paid thus far to economically value Cultural Ecosystem Services (CESs), especially in the context of coastal or marine environment. This paper develops and tests a pathway to the identification and economic valuation of CESs. The pathway enables researchers to make more explicit, and to economically value, cultural dimensions of environmental change. We suggest that the valuation process includes a simultaneous development of the scenarios of environmental change including related biophysical impacts, and a documentation of culture–environment linkages. A well-defined ecosystem service typology is also needed to classify cultural–ecological linkages as specific CESs. The pathway then involves the development of detailed, multidimensional depictions of the culture–environment linkages for use in a stated preference survey. The anticipated CES interpretations should be confirmed through debriefing questions in the survey questionnaire. The proposed approach is demonstrated with a choice experiment-based case study in Turkey that focuses improvements to the food web of the Black Sea. The results of this study indicate that economic preferences for CESs other than recreation can be estimated in a way that is economically consistent using the proposed approach.
Background: Green spaces have been associated with improved mental health in children; however, available epidemiological evidence on their impact on child behavioral development is scarce.
Objectives: We investigated the impact of contact with green spaces and blue spaces (beaches) on indicators of behavioral development and symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in schoolchildren.
Methods: This study was based on a sample of 2,111 schoolchildren (7–10 years of age) from 36 schools in Barcelona in 2012. We obtained data on time spent in green spaces and beaches and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires (SDQ) from parents, and ADHD/DSM-IV questionnaires from teachers. Surrounding greenness was abstracted as the average Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in buffers of 100 m, 250 m, and 500 m around each home address. Proximity to green spaces was defined as living within 300 m of a major green space (≥ 0.05 km2). We applied quasi-Poisson mixed-effects models (with school random effect) to separately estimate associations between indicators of contact with green spaces and SDQ and ADHD total and subscale scores.
Results: We generally estimated beneficial associations between behavioral indicators and longer time spent in green spaces and beaches, and with residential surrounding greenness. Specifically, we found statistically significant inverse associations between green space playing time and SDQ total difficulties, emotional symptoms, and peer relationship problems; between residential surrounding greenness and SDQ total difficulties and hyperactivity/inattention and ADHD/DSM-IV total and inattention scores; and between annual beach attendance and SDQ total difficulties, peer relationship problems, and prosocial behavior. For proximity to major green spaces, the results were not conclusive.
Conclusion: Our findings support beneficial impacts of contact with green and blue spaces on behavioral development in schoolchildren.
There are a range of legal instruments, institutions, and organizations that collectively establish rules and policies for managing, conserving, and using the ocean. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides the overarching legal framework for ocean governance and management on a global scale, but there are a number of other important ocean governance-related institutions, instruments and processes.
This document provides a brief overview of those institutions and processes that are most relevant to multi-sectoral business and industry interests, with a particular emphasis on opportunities for industry to get involved in the policy-making process. It does not include policies, institutions, and processes that are primarily relevant to a single sector. After first reviewing key aspects of UNCLOS, this document discusses other key ocean policy and governance processes and bodies. A glossary of terms is provided at the end of the document (items defined in the glossary are indicated in bold within the text). For reference, Table 1 provides a more inclusive list of ocean governance instruments, processes, and institutions and indicates which of these are covered in detail in this document.
This report focuses on the open ocean, which is often referred to in the literature as the largest carbon sink on Earth. The report has been produced to promote better understanding of how atmospheric carbon is captured, stored and mobilized in the ocean, and how this has a significant bearing on sustainability, the welfare of people, and the future scale and intensity of climate change and ocean acidification. Whilst there has been a significant effort on managing carbon in natural environments on land in places such as forest and peatlands, we have been largely ignoring the ocean that is now responding to the full impact of the consequences of our activities.
The report sets out the importance of carbon in the open ocean and, through examples, illustrates the significance and values of some of its major carbon pools and sinks. This analysis ranges from microscopic organisms in the plankton that drive the biological pump, which take CO2 out of the air and ultimately trap a proportion of solid carbon permanently in the sediments of the deep ocean, through to groups of animals, which perhaps hitherto have not been considered as very relevant in carbon management, such as krill and fish – and in so doing introduces the notion of ‘mobile carbon units’. The report ranges in its attention from the surface waters, where carbon capture is powered by photosynthetic activities, through to the deep ocean. It describes the role and importance of deep sea microbes, and the recently discovered, increasingly important chemosynthetic pathways through which carbon is converted in the deep dark ocean to organic matter.
Conservation biologists frequently use data from the same or related species collected in diverse geographic locations to guide interventions in situations where its applicability is uncertain. There are dangers inherent to this approach. The nesting habitats of critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) cover a broad geographic global range. Based on data collected in the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific, conservationists assume hawksbills prefer open-coast beaches near coral reefs for nesting, and that individual hawksbills are highly consistent in nest placement, suggesting genetic factors partially account for variation in nest-site choice. We characterized nest-site preferences of hawksbills in El Salvador and Nicaragua, where >80% of nesting activity occurs for this species in the eastern Pacific, and ∼90% of hawksbill clutches are relocated to hatcheries for protection. We found hawksbills preferred nest sites with abundant vegetation on dynamic beaches within mangrove estuaries. Nests in El Salvador were located closer to the ocean and to the woody vegetation border than nests in Nicaragua, suggesting female hawksbills exhibit local adaptations to differences in nesting habitat. Individual hawksbills consistently placed nests under high percentages of overstory vegetation, but were not consistent in nest placement related to woody vegetation borders. We suggest conservation biologists use caution when generalizing about endangered species that invest in specific life-history strategies (e.g., nesting) over broad ranges based on data collected in distant locations when addressing conservation issues.
Shark diving tourism is a burgeoning, global industry. The growing perception that sharks can be worth more alive for tourism than dead in a fish market has become one of the leading contemporary arguments for shark conservation. However, there still exists concern that many aspects of shark-related tourism (e.g., provisioning) may alter natural behaviors and foraging areas, as well as pose a threat to humans by associating people with food. These concerns are largely driven by the previously limited scientific knowledge regarding the effects of shark diving tourism on shark biology, the marine environment and human interactions. Here we review and summarize previous research in these areas and evaluate the potential effects of dive tourism on shark behavior, ecology and subsequent human dimensions. To assist the development of future research, we provide a set of research questions. Taken together, we conclude that under the right conditions and if done in a precautionary, responsible manner, shark diving can provide a net conservation benefit (i.e., garnering of protective measures, raising awareness, instilling a conservation ethic) for a handful of species.
The concept of co-location of marine areas receives an increased significance in the light of sustainable development in the already heavily used offshore marine realm. Within this study, different spatial co-location scenarios for the coupling of offshore aquacultures and wind farms are evaluated in order to support efficient and sustainable marine spatial management strategies. A Geographic Information System (GIS) and multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) techniques were combined to index suitable co-sites in the German exclusive economic zone of the North Sea. The MCE was based on criteria such as temperature, salinity or oxygen. In total, 13 possible aquaculture candidates (seaweed, bivalves, fish and crustaceans) were selected for the scenario configuration. The GIS modelling framework proved to be powerful in defining potential co-location sites. The aquaculture candidate oarweed (Laminaria digitata) revealed the highest suitability scores at 10–20 m depth from April to June, followed by haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) at 20–30 m depth and dulse (Palmaria palmata) and Sea belt (Saccharina latissima) at 0–10 m depth between April and June. In summary, results showed several wind farms were de facto suitable sites for aquaculture since they exhibited high suitability scores for Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) systems combining fish species, bivalves and seaweeds. The present results illustrate how synergies may be realised between competing needs of both offshore wind energy and offshore IMTA in the German EEZ of the North Sea. This might offer guidance to stakeholders and assist decision-makers in determining the most suitable sites for pilot projects using IMTA techniques.
Biodiversity is a highly complex and abstract ecological concept. Even though it is not one physical entity, it influences human well-being in multiple ways, mostly indirectly. While considerable research effort has been spent on the economic valuation of biodiversity, it remains to be a particularly challenging ‘valuation object’. Valuation practitioners therefore have to use proxies for biodiversity, many of which are very simple (single species, habitats). This paper presents a comprehensive and critical review of biodiversity valuation studies with special emphasis on biodiversity valuation in order to depict the state-of-the-art in this research field. It develops evaluation criteria so as to identify best-practice applications and shows that the field of biodiversity valuation studies is rather heterogeneous regarding both valuation objects and valuation methods. On the basis of our evaluation criteria and best-practice studies we suggest that to account for the complexity and abstractness of biodiversity, multi-attribute approaches with encompassing information provision should be used that emphasise the roles biodiversity plays for human well-being.
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins have historically inhabited the northern waters off Lantau Island, Hong Kong; however their numbers have significantly decreased over the past decade, while human pressure has simultaneously increased. Based on a spatio-temporal analysis using a Geographic Information System (GIS), this study aims to assess the cumulative human impacts of local activities on this dolphin population since 1996. After introducing and discussing the multiple approaches, difficulties, and limitations to cumulative effects assessments (CEA), this paper outlines our proposed CEA methodology. Our methodology involves mapping and analysis of anthropogenic marine impacts in relation with historical dolphin distributions in the area. Local scale results show evidence of a relationship between the addition of new high-speed ferry (HSF) routes into the cumulative environment and the decrease in dolphins in a specific region known as the Brothers Islands. These results coincide with past research showing that whales and dolphins are significantly disrupted in the presence of high vessel traffic, which continues to grow in the northern waters off Lantau Island, Hong Kong and in many other places around the world.
Stakeholder participation is an important concept in marine environmental management; thus, their acceptance and opinions might influence policy decision making and effectiveness. This paper explores the factors that affect stakeholders' (traditional ocean users, including fishers and aquaculture farmers) acceptance and conducts an empirical analysis to determine the relationship among stakeholders' perceptions and acceptance. A total of 238 respondents completed a survey that was conducted in six coastal counties in western Taiwan. We used principle component analysis and two logistic regression models for the analysis: one model does not consider perception factors, while the other model estimates perception factors. The empirical results reveal that three perception factors related to the benefits of offshore wind farms significantly affect stakeholders' acceptance. Furthermore, the explanatory power, goodness-of-fit, and the predicted probability are greater when perception factors are considered in the logistic model. As a result, stakeholders' perceptions are important factors that influence their acceptance of OWFs along the western coast of Taiwan. According to our findings, recommendations are offered to resolve the user conflicts regarding OWF turbine construction and operation, including (1) communicating effectively and integrating stakeholder participation and (2) offering benefits to ocean users and local communities.