Plastic debris is a major global threat to marine ecosystems and species. However, our knowledge of this issue may be incomplete due to a lack of a standardized method for quantifying ingested ultrafine particles (1 μm – 1 mm) in wildlife. This study provides the first quantification of ultrafine plastic in seabirds using chemical and biological digestion treatments to extract plastic items from seabird gizzards. The alkaline agent, potassium hydroxide, outperformed the enzyme corolase, based on cost and efficiency (e.g., digestion time). Ultrafine plastics were observed in 7.0% of Flesh-footed Shearwater (Ardenna carneipes) gizzards collected from Lord Howe Island, Australia and accounted for 3.6% of all plastic items recovered (13 out of 359 items). Existing methods for extracting ingested plastic from seabirds do not account for ultrafine particles, therefore our results indicate current seabird plastic loads, and the associated physical and biological impacts, are underestimated.
Coral reefs experiencing ocean acidification (OA) are likely to recover much more slowly from damage caused by acute events such as mass bleaching because OA slows coral reef growth and reproduction. To maintain reefs in a net growth or net-neutral condition, curbing the impact of OA is therefore necessary. A variety of mitigation and adaptation strategies have been proposed to abate OA impacts on reefs. However, detailed guidance for managers on the types, effectiveness, or costs of different local interventions to address OA is scarce. To advance the discussion about available interventions, this review explores and compares mitigation and adaptation techniques that have been proposed to abate OA impacts on coral reefs. We focus primarily on four categories of interventions intended to address different ecosystem service changes: phytoremediation, chemical remediation, reef restoration, and assisted evolution. We briefly touch on traditional restoration methods like marine protected areas (MPAs) and reducing secondary sources of stress. Of the techniques reviewed, most are costly and do not scale at the same pace as global reef loss. Nor do they address the root cause of OA, global carbon emissions. That said, intervention should not be an all or nothing approach; some techniques may be worth implementing at smaller scales in a coordinated way. Working to save pieces of ecosystems and buying time may help ensure that there is more to rebuild from in the future. Despite the seemingly high price tag of many of these techniques, given the potential value of regained ecosystem services, net gains may exceed implementation costs. It is certain, however, from the limited reach of coral reef interventions, that they must be undertaken as part of a suite of global-scale interventions including atmospheric CO2 reduction to preserve coral reef ecosystem function and benefits to humanity.
Twitter accounts have already been used in many scientometric studies, but the meaningfulness of the data for societal impact measurements in research evaluation has been questioned. Earlier research focused on social media counts and neglected the interactive nature of the data. We explore a new network approach based on Twitter data in which we compare author keywords to hashtags as indicators of topics. We analyze the topics of tweeted publications and compare them with the topics of all publications (tweeted and not tweeted). Our exploratory study is based on a comprehensive publication set of climate change research. We are interested in whether Twitter data are able to reveal topics of public discussions which can be separated from research-focused topics. We find that the most tweeted topics regarding climate change research focus on the consequences of climate change for humans. Twitter users are interested in climate change publications which forecast effects of a changing climate on the environment and to adaptation, mitigation and management issues rather than in the methodology of climate-change research and causes of climate change. Our results indicate that publications using scientific jargon are less likely to be tweeted than publications using more general keywords. Twitter networks seem to be able to visualize public discussions about specific topics.
The effect of fiber type (cotton, polyester, and rayon), temperature, and use of detergent on the number of microfibers released during laundering of knitted fabrics were studied during accelerated laboratory washing (Launder-Ometer) and home laundering experiments. Polyester and cellulose-based fabrics all shed significant amounts of microfibers and shedding levels were increased with higher water temperature and detergent use. Cellulose-based fabrics released more microfibers (0.2–4 mg/g fabric) during accelerated laundering than polyester (0.1–1 mg/g fabric). Using well-controlled aquatic biodegradation experiments it was shown that cotton and rayon microfibers are expected to degrade in natural aquatic aerobic environments whereas polyester microfibers are expected to persist in the environment for long periods of time.
We describe an investigation into the challenges faced by fishing gear technologists inspiring the voluntary uptake of proven fishing gear by fishers, defined as fishing gear that has satisfied research objectives following field trials between fishers and fishing gear technologists. We applied a multifaceted approach to understand how the uptake rate of this fishing gear can be achieved based on the results of a 3-year ICES-FAO Working Group on Fishing Technology and Fish Behaviour (WGFTFB) topic group on change management in fisheries. This was supported by an online survey and interview of WGFTFB members, comprising mainly of fishing gear technologists and researchers from Europe and North America, and a review of projects in the US Northwest Atlantic to evaluate the performance of fishing gear in close collaboration with fishers. We found that widespread voluntary uptake of proven fishing gear by fishers is rare, and usually takes place over many years if at all. The uptake of this gear was more likely occur in the face of perceived financial benefit or impending regulation, although financial benefit was not always sufficient inducement for fishers change their gear. The effectiveness of outreach programmes to inspire the uptake of this gear was also found to be questionable, and the efficacy of incentives was limited and inconsistent, even if the informational deficit of fishers was low. Few WGFTFB members were found to use change management models such as that by Kotter, and they relied mainly on informal, ad hoc approaches to inspire the uptake of proven fishing gear. Based on our findings we posit a need to (i) examine our assumptions about the behaviour of fishers, (ii) augment communication of the results of fishing gear research, (iii) focus on emotions to overcome motivational deficits, and (iv) consider how the application of change management models can improve the ability of fishing gear technologists to inspire the uptake of proven fishing gear by fishers.
Climate-driven changes in ocean currents have facilitated the range extension of the long-spined sea urchin (Centrostephanus rodgersii) from Australia’s mainland to eastern Tasmania over recent decades. Since its arrival, destructive grazing by the urchin has led to widespread formation of sea urchin ‘barrens’. The loss of habitat, biodiversity and productivity for important commercial reef species in conjunction with the development of an urchin fishery has led to conflicting objectives among stakeholders, which poses complex challenges for regional management. Stakeholder representatives and managers were engaged via a participatory workshop and subsequent one-on-one surveys to trial a structured decision-making process to identify effective ecosystem-based management strategies. We directly and indirectly elicited each stakeholder’s preferences for nine alternative management strategies by presenting them with the 10-year consequences of each strategy estimated from an ecosystem model of Tasmanian reef communities. These preferences were included in cost-effectiveness scores that were averaged (across stakeholders) to enable strategy ranking from most to least cost-effective. Rankings revealed strategies that included sea urchin removal or translocation of predatory lobsters were the most cost-effective. However, assessment of stakeholders’ individual cost-effectiveness scores showed some disparity among stakeholders’ preferences in high ranking strategies. Additionally, evaluating inconsistencies within some stakeholders’ scores that included direct or indirect preferences revealed conflicting objectives and cognitive bias as the most plausible explanations for these inconsistencies. Our study illustrates how structured decision-making can effectively facilitate ecosystem-based management by engaging stakeholders step-by-step towards management strategy implementation, identifying psychological barriers to decision-making and promoting collective learning.
One of the current major scientific challenges to sustain social-ecological systems is to improve our understanding of the spatial and temporal dynamics of the relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services. Here, we analyse the bundles of ecosystem services supplied by three coastal ecosystems (coastal lagoons, coral reefs and sandy beaches) along a gradient of eutrophication. Based on a state-and-transition model, we analyses the dynamic responses of ecological communities to environmental change and management actions. Although few exceptions are highlighted, increasing eutrophication in the three ecosystem types leads to a degradation of the ecosystem service bundles, particularly for nutrient and pathogen regulation/sequestration, or for the support of recreational and leisure activities. Despite few obstacles to their full use, state-and-transition models can be very powerful frameworks to integrate multiple functions and services delivered by ecosystems while accounting for their temporal dynamics.
Regulatory discharge standards stipulating a maximum allowable number of viable organisms in ballast water have led to a need for rapid, easy and accurate compliance assessment tools and protocols. Some potential tools presume that organisms present in ballast water samples display the same characteristics of life as the native community (e.g. rates of fluorescence). This presumption may not prove true, particularly when ships' ballast tanks present a harsh environment and long transit times, negatively impacting organism health. Here, we test the accuracy of a handheld pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometer, the Hach BW680, for detecting photosynthetic protists at concentrations above or below the discharge standard (< 10 cells·ml− 1) in comparison to microscopic counts using fluoresce indiacetate as a viability probe. Testing was conducted on serial dilutions of freshwater harbour samples in the lab and in situ untreated ballast water samples originating from marine, freshwater and brackish sources utilizing three preprocessing techniques to target organisms in the size range of ≥ 10 and < 50 μm. The BW680 numeric estimates were in agreement with microscopic counts when analyzing freshly collected harbour water at all but the lowest concentrations (< 38 cells·ml− 1). Chi-square tests determined that error is not independent of preprocessing methods: using the filtrate method or unfiltered water, in addition to refining the conversion factor of raw fluorescence to cell size, can decrease the grey area where exceedance of the discharge standard cannot be measured with certainty (at least for the studied populations). When examining in situ ballast water, the BW680 detected significantly fewer viable organisms than microscopy, possibly due to factors such as organism size or ballast water age. Assuming both the BW680 and microscopy with FDA stain were measuring fluorescence and enzymatic activity/membrane integrity correctly, the observed discrepancy between methods may simply reflect that the two methods are measuring different characteristics of life. This is the first study to conduct proof-of-concept testing for a rapid compliance detection tool using freshly collected harbour water concomitantly with in situ ballast water; our results demonstrate that it is important to challenge potential compliance tools with water samples spanning a range of biotic and abiotic conditions.
Understanding spatial distributions of fish species is important to those seeking to manage fisheries and advise on marine developments. Distribution patterns, habitat use, and aggregative behaviour often vary throughout the life cycle and can increase the vulnerability of certain life stages to anthropogenic impacts. Here we investigate distribution changes during the life cycle of whiting (Merlangius merlangus) to the west of the UK. Density distributions for age-0, age-1 and mature fish were modelled as functions of environmental variables using generalised additive mixed effects models. The greatest densities of age-0 whiting occurred over finer sediments where temperatures were between 12 to 13°C. Age-0 whiting densities decreased with increasing depth. Higher densities of age-1 whiting were also associated with fine sediments and peaked at 60 m, but this influence was also dependent on proximity to shore. Mature fish, while showing no association with any particular sediment type, were strongly associated with depths >60 m. Geostatistical aggregation curves were used to classify space use and showed persistent aggregations of age-0 whiting occupying inshore waters while age-1 and mature fish were more dispersed and differed among years. The differences in distributions among life stages suggested a general coastal to offshore shift as cohorts developed with mature whiting mainly occupying deep offshore waters. The spatial dynamics and areas of persistent life stage aggregation identified here could enable informed targeting and avoidance of specific age-class whiting to aid bycatch reduction. Given that landing obligation legislation is counterproductive unless it encourages greater fishing selectivity, the ability to avoid this species and undersized individuals would aid conservation measures and fishermen alike.
Knowledge on the spatial distribution, habitat use and processes of site selection by marine turtles is fundamental to identify key habitats, critical resources, and discrete foraging aggregations for protection. This is particularly important for regions of known importance for marine turtles and where widespread habitat degradation is taking place. The waters surrounding Bimini, Bahamas, provide important foraging areas for threatened juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas) however, these habitats are being severely degraded by coastal development. To inform managers on the design of planned future no-take marine protected areas (MPA) in Bimini, we used a spatial planning approach and incorporated diverse methodologies (e.g., visual surveys, capture events, passive acoustic telemetry) to identify areas of high use by juvenile green turtles. We also assessed forage items to understand habitat use by green turtles. This information was compared with how various stakeholders use the local waters to identify priority areas for protection within Bimini to maximize conservation of green turtles, while minimizing impact to society, and to meet the conservation target previously stipulated by government officials. Two regions within Bimini (South Flats in south Bimini and Bonefish Hole on the north Island) were identified as important areas for protection and suggestions are made on their considerations for MPA implementation.
The application of historical perspectives and the documentation of long-term change in and views about the ocean is increasingly sought to frame and contextualize current issues facing marine science and policy. One of the important methods for informing such an historical perspective is through the use of oral histories, long used by social scientists for insight into local knowledge, lived history, and their meaning to participants. In this article, we seek to demonstrate the relevance of oral histories for understanding the changing institutional setting and research focus of marine science in the United States, and the unique platform it offers for introspective reflection on where marine sciences are today, where they have been, and where they might like to go. We discuss the influence of institutional changes on research topics, the impact of regional differences on the sciences, the increasing emphasis on mathematics and modelling, and new directions incorporating ecosystems, human communities, and public involvement. Finally, we conclude with consideration of the value of oral histories and other qualitative methods for elucidating experiences of and perspectives on the past.
The purpose of this paper is to link empowerment to the engagement of low-power stakeholders in the context of marine protected areas (MPAs) to suggest how empowerment-based engagement can be strategised to prevent and overcome management crises within a natural common good and ultimately achieve effective co-management.
This research employs a longitudinal case study methodology. The subject of the study is Torre Guaceto MPA, a natural common good, internationally recognised as a best practice of co-management.
The case study illustrates specific empowerment areas and actions that help move low-power stakeholders to higher levels of engagement to achieve effective co-management. It also suggests that the main strategic implication of empowerment-based engagement is the creation of empowered stakeholders who can serve as catalysts for sustaining the common through the development of entrepreneurial skills that satisfy joint interests.
The applied methodology of a single case and the peculiar conditions intrinsic to this case can be overcome via the inclusion and comparison of other similar commons.
The study provides a stakeholder management model of empowerment-based engagement that offers concrete evidence of empowerment strategies that can be adopted and adapted by the management of similar natural common goods.
The research fills the literature gaps related to understanding the antecedents of engagement and its strategic implications within natural common pool resources.
The aim of this study was to investigate the key landscape structures of migratory bird habitats that affect abundance of migratory birds to promote resilient coastal green infrastructure planning on the Yellow Sea coast. We classified coastal areas into four watersheds of South Korea and conducted multivariate regression analysis between migratory bird populations and landscape structures including total class area (CA), patch area distribution (MN), patch density (PD), and edge density (ED). At the national level, sandbank MN, sandbank CA, water ED, and grasslands were derived as key landscape structures affecting the abundance of migratory birds. At the watershed level, key landscape structures were determined as follows: Urban area_MN for the Han River watershed, rice paddy MN for the Asan watershed, rice paddy CA for Saemangeum, and grassland MN for the Youngsan River watershed. Considering the multifunctionality, redundancy, and connectivity of the resilience strategy, we provide specific coastal infrastructure planning recommendations at the national and watershed scales.
One in four fishes of the subclass Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays) is estimated to be threatened with extinction, according to the IUCN Red List. Their primary threat is overfishing, but data deficiency makes stock assessment difficult. Over 50% of shark and ray species are listed as Data Deficient, in part because the taxonomic resolution of existing catch statistics is too low to identify species-level trends of abundance. Less than 25% of the shark catch reported to the FAO is identified below the genus level; the other 75% is lumped into categories such as “sharks”, “rays”, or “elasmobranchs nei”, (not elsewhere included). This study evaluates the taxonomic resolution of domestic elasmobranch landings in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, where over half of shark and ray species are threatened with extinction, but data deficiency and ambiguity consistently limit conservation action. A Taxonomic Resolution Index (TRI) was calculated for the landings of 24 countries over 65 years (1950–2014) to evaluate the quality of catch reporting over time. The TRI revealed that less than a quarter of commercial elasmobranch taxa are represented in Mediterranean and Black Seas landings data, and reporting quality has hardly improved. Conservation and management policy exists for effective fisheries data collection in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, but lacks implementation.
Coral reefs face an uncertain future and may not recover naturally from anthropogenic climate change. Coral restoration is needed to rehabilitate degraded reefs and to sustain biodiversity. There is a need for baseline data on global reef distribution, composition, and condition to provide targets for conservation and restoration. Remote sensing can address this issue and is currently underutilized in reef research and restoration. This synthesis integrates current capabilities of remote sensing with key reef restoration criteria, to facilitate coral restoration success. Research into the development of a spectral database for corals, linking habitat type and extent with predator abundance, and identification of species-specific acoustic signatures are needed to advance the use of remote sensing in reef restoration design and monitoring. Reciprocally, reef restoration efforts should innovate at ecosystem, regional, and global levels using remote sensing, to preserve as much of the coral reef biome as possible with continued ocean-climate change.
As “ecosystem engineers,” framework-forming scleractinian cold-water corals (CWC) build reefs that are unique biodiversity hotspots in the deep sea. Studies using common biological techniques such as correlating the spatial occurrence of the most common CWC species with modeled environmental conditions have revealed the ecological requirements and tolerances of these species. However, limited field observations and poorly understood geographical distribution patterns of the CWC restrict the application of existing knowledge toward assessing their fate (e.g., local extinction, newly established populations) under ongoing global change. Hence, the risk to cross ecological tipping points causing the demise (or establishment) of entire CWC reefs remains unclear. A major challenge is to identify the key environmental parameters (or stressors) having the potential to control CWC vitality by providing such tipping points. This is largely hampered by the overall lack of present-day observations of such tipping point crossings. However, evidence for such events is frequently preserved in geological records revealing that entire CWC ecosystems vanished or returned at specific moments in the past. Here, a geological approach is presented that by correlating geological CWC records with paleoceanographic data describing past environmental changes allows to identify a set of key environmental drivers that directly or indirectly control CWC vitality. Thus, by combining such a geological approach with common biological techniques (see above) to describe the ecological tolerance of the most important reef-building CWC has a great potential to better assess their future spatial distribution in times of accelerating global change and to improve the sustainable management of the important deep-sea ecosystems formed by CWC.
Modeling tools that can demonstrate possible consequences of strategies designed to operationalize ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) should be able to address tradeoffs over a wide suite of considerations representing the scope of marine management objectives. Coupled ecological-economic modeling, where models for ecological and economic subsystems are linked through their inputs and outputs, allows for quantification of such tradeoffs. Here, we link the harvest output from fishery management scenarios implemented in an end-to-end ecosystem model (Atlantis) to an input–output regional economic model for the Northeast United States to calculate changes in socio-economic indicators, including the consequences of management action for regional sales, wages, and employment. We implement three simple scenarios (maintain, decrease, or increase current fishing effort), and compare model-projected values for systematic and sector-specific indicators. Systematic indicators revealed different ecological and economic outcomes, with large ecological responses and clear tradeoffs among the catch and biomass of species groups. Economic indicators for the region responded similarly to fishery yield; however, changes in total sales did not match those in landed catch. Under increased fishing effort, a lower proportional increase in sales relative to total landed catch arose due to increased yield from lower value species groups. Average fisheries income changed little among scenarios, but was highest when effort was maintained at current levels, likely a reflection of fleet and catch stability. Our results serve to demonstrate that consequences of management may be felt disproportionately among species through the region and across different fisheries sectors. With our coupled modeling approach of passing Atlantis ecosystem model outputs to an input–output economic model, we were able to assess effects of fisheries management across a broader suite of indicators that have relevance for policymakers across multiple objectives.
Time of Emergence (ToE) is the time when a signal emerges from the noise of natural variability. Commonly used in climate science for the detection of anthropogenic forcing, this concept has recently been applied to geochemical variables, to assess the emerging times of anthropogenic ocean acidification (OA), mostly in the open ocean using global climate and Earth System Models. Yet studies of OA variables are scarce within costal margins, due to limited multidecadal time-series observations of carbon parameters. ToE provides important information for decision making regarding the strategic configuration of observing assets, to ensure they are optimally positioned either for signal detection and/or process elicitation and to identify the most suitable variables in discerning OA-related changes. Herein, we present a short overview of ToE estimates on an OA variable, CO2fugacity f(CO2,sw), in the North American ocean margins, using coastal data from the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas (SOCAT) V5. ToE suggests an average theoretical timeframe for an OA signal to emerge, of 23(±13) years, but with considerable spatial variability. Most coastal areas are experiencing additional secular and/or multi-decadal forcing(s) that modifies the OA signal, and such forcing may not be sufficiently resolved by current observations. We provide recommendations, which will help scientists and decision makers design and implement OA monitoring systems in the next decade, to address the objectives of OceanObs19 (http://www.oceanobs19.net) in support of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) (https://en.unesco.org/ocean-decade) and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.3 (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg14) target to “Minimize and address the impacts of OA.”
Comprehensive and objective evaluation of all observing assets, tools, and services within an ocean observing system is essential to maximize effectiveness and efficiency; yet, it often eludes programs due to the complexity of such robust evaluation. In order to address this need, the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) transformed an evaluation matrix developed for the energy sector to one suitable for ocean observing. The resulting innovation is a decision analysis methodology that factors in multiple attributes (market, risk, and performance factors) and allows for selective weighting of attributes based on system maturity, external forcing, and consumer demand. This evaluation process is coupled with an annual review of priorities with respect to stakeholder needs and the program’s 5-year strategic framework in order to assess the system’s components. The results provide information needed to assess the effectiveness, efficiency, and impact of each component within the system, and informs a decision-making process that determines additional investment, refinement, sustainment, or retirement of individual observing assets, services, or component groups. Regularly evaluating, and taking action to improve, modify, or terminate weak system components allows for the continuous improvement of PacIOOS services by ensuring resources are directed to the priorities of the stakeholder community. The methodology described herein is presented as an innovative opportunity for others looking for a systematic approach to evaluate their observing systems to inform program-level decision-making as they develop, refine, and distribute data and information products.
Sustained ocean observations benefit many users and societal goals but could benefit many more. Such information is critical for using ocean resources responsibly and sustainably as the ocean becomes increasingly important to society. The contributions of many nations cooperating to develop the Global Ocean Observing System has resulted in a strong base of global and regional ocean observing networks. However, enhancement of the existing observation system has been constrained by flat funding and limited cooperation among present and potential users. At the same time, a variety of actors are seeking new deployments in remote and newly ice-free regions and new observing capabilities, including biological and biogeochemical sensors. Can these new needs be met? In this paper, a vision for how to sustain ocean observing in the future is presented. A key evolution will be to grow the pool of users, engaging end users across society. Users with shared values need to be brought together with commitment to sustainable use of the ocean in the broadest sense. Present planning for sustained observations builds on the development of the Global Ocean Observing System which has primarily targeted increased scientific understanding of ocean processes and of the ocean's role in climate. We must build on that foundation to develop an Ocean Partnership for Sustained Observing that will incorporate the growing needs of a broad constituency of users beyond climate and make the case for new resources. To be most effective this new Partnership should incorporate the principles of a collective impact organization, enabling closer engagement with the private sector, philanthropies, governments, NGOs, and other groups. Steps toward achieving this new Partnership are outlined in this paper, with the intent of establishing it early in the UN Decade of Ocean Science.