Shallow marine ecosystems naturally experience fluctuating physicochemical conditions across spatial and temporal scales. Widespread coral-bleaching events, induced by prolonged heat stress, highlight the importance of how the duration and frequency of thermal stress influence the adaptive physiology of photosymbiotic calcifiers. Large benthic foraminifera harboring algal endosymbionts are major tropical carbonate producers and bioindicators of ecosystem health. Like corals, they are sensitive to thermal stress and bleach at temperatures temporarily occurring in their natural habitat and projected to happen more frequently. However, their thermal tolerance has been studied so far only by chronic exposure, so how they respond under more realistic episodic heat-event scenarios remains unknown. Here, we determined the physiological responses of Amphistegina gibbosa, an abundant western Atlantic foraminifera, to four different treatments––control, single, episodic, and chronic exposure to the same thermal stress (32°C)––in controlled laboratory cultures. Exposure to chronic thermal stress reduced motility and growth, while antioxidant capacity was elevated, and photosymbiont variables (coloration, oxygen-production rates, chlorophyll a concentration) indicated extensive bleaching. In contrast, single- and episodic-stress treatments were associated with higher motility and growth, while photosymbiont variables remained stable. The effects of single and episodic heat events were similar, except for the presumable occurrence of reproduction, which seemed to be suppressed by both episodic and chronic stress. The otherwise different responses between treatments with thermal fluctuations and chronic stress indicate adaptation to thermal peaks, but not to chronic exposure expected to ensue when baseline temperatures are elevated by climate change. This firstly implies that marine habitats with a history of fluctuating thermal stress potentially support resilient physiological mechanisms among photosymbiotic organisms. Secondly, there seem to be temporal constraints related to heat events among coral reef environments and reinforces the importance of temporal fluctuations in stress exposure in global-change studies and projections.
Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is used globally to manage the impacts of development projects on the environment, so there is an imperative to demonstrate that it can effectively identify risky projects. However, despite the widespread use of quantitative predictive risk models in areas such as toxicology, ecosystem modelling and water quality, the use of predictive risk tools to assess the overall expected environmental impacts of major construction and development proposals is comparatively rare. A risk-based approach has many potential advantages, including improved prediction and attribution of cause and effect; sensitivity analysis; continual learning; and optimal resource allocation. In this paper we investigate the feasibility of using a Bayesian belief network (BBN) to quantify the likelihood and consequence of non-compliance of new projects based on the occurrence probabilities of a set of expert-defined features. The BBN incorporates expert knowledge and continually improves its predictions based on new data as it is collected. We use simulation to explore the trade-off between the number of data points and the prediction accuracy of the BBN, and find that the BBN could predict risk with 90% accuracy using approximately 1000 data points. Although a further pilot test with real project data is required, our results suggest that a BBN is a promising method to monitor overall risks posed by development within an existing EIA process given a modest investment in data collection.
Celebrities are frequently used in conservation marketing as a tool to raise awareness, generate funding and effect behaviour change. The importance of evaluating effectiveness is widely recognised in both marketing and conservation but, to date, little research into the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement as a tool for conservation marketing has been published. Using a combination of interviews and an online choice survey instrument, we investigated the extent to which a sample of UK-based conservation organisations, and other charities, evaluate their own usage of celebrity endorsement, and then carried out an experimental evaluation of a hypothetical marketing campaign. This experiment compared participants' willingness-to-engage (WTE) with, and recall of, a conservation message presented in versions of an advert featuring one of three prominent UK celebrities (David Beckham, Chris Packham or HRH Prince William) or a non-celebrity control treatment (featuring Crawford Allan, a director of TRAFFIC USA). We find that the organisations we interviewed did not routinely evaluate their marketing campaigns featuring celebrities. Furthermore, our experiment provides evidence that celebrity endorsement can produce both positive and negative effects. Participants were more willing to engage when presented with an advert featuring one of the three celebrities than the non-celebrity control, and WTE varied according to the characteristics of the celebrity and the respondent. However, celebrities were less effective at generating campaign message recall than non-celebrities. These findings suggest that celebrity endorsement should be used carefully. Further work is required to fully understand the role celebrity endorsers can play in conservation but, drawing on best practice from the field of marketing, this study introduces an approach to evaluation which could be applied more widely to improve the effectiveness of conservation marketing.
Scleractinian corals, the main framework builders of coral reefs, are in serious global decline, although there remains significant uncertainty as to the consequences for individual species and particular regions. We assessed coral species richness and ranked relative abundance across 3075 depth-stratified survey sites, each < 0.5 ha in area, using a standardized rapid assessment method, in 31 Indo-West Pacific (IWP) coral ecoregions (ERs), from 1994 to 2016. The ecoregions cover a significant proportion of the ranges of most IWP reef coral species, including main centres of diversity, providing a baseline (albeit a shifted one) of species abundance over a large area of highly endangered reef systems, facilitating study of future change. In all, 672 species were recorded. The richest sites and ERs were all located in the Coral Triangle. Local (site) richness peaked at 224 species in Halmahera ER (IWP mean 71 species Standard Deviation 38 species). Nineteen species occurred in more than half of all sites, all but one occurring in more than 90% of ERs. Representing 13 genera, these widespread species exhibit a broad range of life histories, indicating that no particular strategy, or taxonomic affiliation, conferred particular ecological advantage. For most other species, occurrence and abundance varied markedly among different ERs, some having pronounced “centres of abundance”. Conversely, another 40 species, also with widely divergent life histories, were very rare, occurring in five or fewer sites, 14 species of which are ranked as “Vulnerable” or “Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Others may also qualify in these Threatened categories under criteria of small geographic range and population fragmentation, the utility of which is briefly assessed.
Marine debris such as plastic fragments and fishing gears are accumulating in the ocean at alarming rates. This study assesses the incidence of debris in the gastrointestinal tracts of seabirds feeding at different depths and found stranded along the Brazilian coast in the period 2010–2013. More than half (55%) of the species analysed, corresponding to 16% of the total number of individuals, presented plastic particles in their gastrointestinal tracts. The incidence of debris was higher in birds feeding predominantly at intermediate (3–6 m) and deep (20–100 m) waters than those feeding at surface (< 2 m). These results suggest that studying the presence of debris in organisms mainly feeding at the ocean surface provides a limited view about the risks that this form of pollution has on marine life and highlight the ubiquitous and three-dimensional distribution of plastic in the oceans.
Seabirds can interact with marine litter, mainly by entanglement or ingestion. The ingestion of plastics can lead to starvation or physical damage to the digestive tract. For chicks, it could additionally lead to reduced growth, affecting survival and fledging. This study quantified the ingestion of plastics by seabird chicks via an opportunistic sampling strategy. When ringing is carried out at colonies, birds may spontaneously regurgitate their stomach contents due to the stress or as a defence mechanism. Regurgitates were collected from nestlings of three different species: Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla, n = 38), Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis, n = 14) and Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo, n = 28). Plastic was present in all species, with the highest frequency of occurrence (FO) in Northern Fulmar chicks (28.6%), followed by Black-legged Kittiwakes (7.9%) and Great Cormorants (7.1%). The observed load of plastics on chicks, which have not yet left the nest, highlights the pervasive nature of plastic pollution.
Argentina is currently undergoing an intensive development of coastal-oriented tourism due to the temperate climate and coastal sceneries of the Southwestern Atlantic and particularly its wide ocean-open sandy beaches, which may turn into an important contributor of marine debris to the beaches. This study was designed to assess at four spatial scales (i) the variation of the abundance and mass of marine debris and (ii) the composition and sources of these items in sandy-tourist beaches of coastal zones of the province of Buenos Aires, in northern Argentina. The abundance and mass of marine debris shifted between sampling localities (separated by ~ 1.5 × 105 m) and beaches (~ 3 × 104 m). Debris was primarily from recreational and fishing activities and over 20 mm in size. Tackling the complications associated with marine debris in northern Argentina may include intensive educational and advertising campaigns oriented chiefly to beach users and fisherman.
This study estimated the total loads of plastic litter (macro-meso- and micro-plastics) in sediments from a wide stretch of marine and coastal environment of Tyrrhenian Sea. The prevailing category of debris was microplastic. The results obtained, in terms of average amount of microplastic per kilogram of dry sediment, are in agreement with data reported by various Authors internationally. The study area resulted to be uniform for plastic items levels. Particularly evident was the influence of a flood, occurred in November 2012 in Talamone, on sediments collected at the harbour of this locality: in this area, a difference in levels and quality of plastic debris, attributable to periods before and after the flood, was observed in sediments. In addition to focusing on the effect of this phenomenon, this study gives an important overview, for what concerns the presence of plastic litter, of a significant naturalistic area.
Microplastics (MPs) are observed to be present on the seafloor ranging from coastal areas to deep seas. Because bioturbation alters the distribution of natural particles on inhabited soft bottoms, a mesocosm experiment with common benthic invertebrates was conducted to study their effect on the distribution of secondary MPs (different-sized pieces of fishing line < 1 mm). During the study period of three weeks, the benthic community increased MP concentration in the depth of 1.7–5.1 cm in the sediment. The experiment revealed a clear vertical gradient in MP distribution with their abundance being highest in the uppermost parts of the sediment and decreasing with depth. The Baltic clam Macoma balthica was the only study animal that ingested MPs. This study highlights the need to further examine the vertical distribution of MPs in natural sediments to reliably assess their abundance on the seafloor as well as their potential impacts on benthic communities.
Pollution from anthropogenic marine debris (AMD) is currently the most widely distributed and lasting anthropic impact in the marine environment, affecting hundreds of species, including all sea turtles. In this study, the patterns of AMD distribution along the gastrointestinal tract (GT) and their relationship with obstructions and faecalomas in 62 green turtles (Chelonia mydas) that died during rehabilitation in southern Brazil were determined. The GT was split in seven sections, corresponding to the natural organs and intestinal areas morphologically and physiologically distinct. Mean mass (4.24 g) and area (146.74 cm2) of AMD in the stomach were higher than in other sections. The anterior portion of the rectum had the highest number of obstructions, followed by the stomach. AMD was associated with the obstructions, with positive correlation between faecalomas and AMD masses. Organs and subdivisions showed marked differences in susceptibility to obstructions caused by AMD, which deserves attention in clinical interventions.
In this study marine litter (ML) surveys were conducted in 8 beaches along the Bulgarian Black Sea coastline within 4 seasons for 2015–2016. The monitoring applied OSPAR guideline, classifying ML in eight categories and 167 types. The results exhibited predominance of artificial polymer materials - 84.3%. ML densities ranged from 0.0587 ± 0.005 to 0.1343 ± 0.008 n/m2, highest on the urban beaches. The seasonal dynamics of most top 10 ML showed highest quantities in summer than the other seasons, as the differences are of high statistical significance (0.001 ≤ P ≤ 0.05). Top 1 ML item for most of the beaches was cigarette butts and filters reaching 1008 ± 10.58 nos. in summer and from 19 ± 3.41 to 89 ± 7.81 nos. during the rest of the seasons (P < 0.001). For the pronounced seasonality contributed the recreational activities, increased tourist flow and the wild camping. The investigation will enrich data scarcity for Descriptor 10 “Marine litter”.
Being regarded as a problem of global dimensions, marine litter has been a growing concern that affects human beings, wildlife and the economic health of coastal communities to varying degrees. Due to its involvement with human behavior, marine littering has been regarded as a cultural matter encompassing macro and micro level aspects. At the micro or individual level, behavior and behavioral motivation of an individual are driven by perception of that person while at the macro or societal level, aspects including policies and legislations influence behavior. This paper investigates marine littering through the macro-micro level lenses in order to analyze and recommend how anti-littering behavior can be improved and sustained. Using Coleman's model of micro-macro relations, research questions are formulated and investigated through a social survey. Results showed important differences in perceptions among participating groups and to address key issues, potential actions are proposed along with a framework to sustain anti-littering behavior.
Plastic production has increased dramatically worldwide over the last 60 years and it is nowadays recognized as a serious threat to the marine environment. Plastic pollution is ubiquitous, but quantitative estimates on the global abundance and weight of floating plastics are still limited, particularly for the Southern Hemisphere and the more remote regions. Some large-scale convergence zones of plastic debris have been identified, but there is the urgency to standardize common methodologies to measure and quantify plastics in seawater and sediments. Investigations on temporal trends, geographical distribution and global cycle of plastics have management implications when defining the origin, possible drifting tracks and ecological consequences of such pollution. An elevated number of marine species is known to be affected by plastic contamination, and a more integrated ecological risk assessment of these materials has become a research priority. Beside entanglement and ingestion of macro debris by large vertebrates, microplastics are accumulated by planktonic and invertebrate organisms, being transferred along food chains. Negative consequences include loss of nutritional value of diet, physical damages, exposure to pathogens and transport of alien species. In addition, plastics contain chemical additives and efficiently adsorb several environmental contaminants, thus representing a potential source of exposure to such compounds after ingestion. Complex ecotoxicological effects are increasingly reported, but the fate and impact of microplastics in the marine environment are still far to be fully clarified.
The oceans are deteriorating at a fast pace. Conservation measures, such as Marine Protected Areas, are being implemented to relieve areas from local stressors and allow populations to restore to natural levels. Successful networks of MPAs operate if the space among MPAs is smaller than the dispersal capacity of the species under protection. We studied connectivity patterns across populations in a series of MPAs in the common yellowhead Jawfish, Opistognathus aurifrons. Using the power of genome-wide variation, we estimated that the maximum effective dispersal is 8.3 km. We found that MPAs exchange migrants likely via intermediate unprotected habitats through stepping stone dispersal. At scales >50 km such connectivity is decreased, particularly across the Mona Passage. The MPA network studied would be unable to maintain connectivity of these small benthic fishes if habitat in between them is extirpated. Our study highlights the power of SNPs to derive effective dispersal distance and the ability of SNPs to make inferences from single individuals. Given that overall reef fish diversity is driven by species with life histories similar to that of the yellowhead jawfish, managers face a challenge to develop strategies that allow connectivity and avoid isolation of populations and their possible extinction.
The coastal and upslope terrains of West Maui have had a long history of impacts owing to more than a century of human activities. Resource extraction, agriculture, as well as residential and resort development have caused land-based pollution that impairs water quality and adversely impact the adjacent marine ecosystem. Today, West Maui’s coral reefs are chronically impacted by the effects of land-based pollution, mainly sedimentation and nutrients, with documented losses of 30 – 75% in coral cover over the last 20 years. Nonetheless, despite their current status and levels of environmental impact, these coral reef communities represent a key local resource and a counterpoint to the overall low coral reef development levels both island- and state-wide. This is of high relevance because the occurrence of coral-rich assemblages and accreted reef complexes statewide is sparse. Only limited segments along the coastlines of Maui, Hawai‘i, Lana‘i, Moloka‘i, and Kaho‘olawe, harbor mature, fringing coral reefs; and unfortunately, many of them are seriously threatened by terrestrial runoff.
This report describes the results of baseline assessment surveys of coral reef benthic structure, coral community demographics, and coral condition. These surveys are intended to provide benchmarks for continued monitoring efforts and provide a gauge for comparing and evaluating the effectiveness of management actions to reduce land-based sources of pollution in priority watersheds on West Maui. Within this context, 12 permanent, long-term monitoring sites were strategically established adjacent to the 7 primary stream drainages (Wahikuli, Honokōwai, Mahinahina, Kahana/Ka‘opala, Honokeana, Honokahua, and Honolua) within the five priority watersheds (Wahikuli, Honokōwai, Kahana, Honokahua, and Honolua). Herein, benthic cover and composition, coral demographics, and coral condition of the monitoring sites are described and contrasted in the “Benthic Characterization” and “Synthesis and Discussion” sections of this report.
The baseline assessments revealed that although some areas harbor prominent coral reef structures with high live coral cover and multispecies assemblages, others are characterized by sediment-impacted corals in impoverished and species-poor communities. Mean coral cover varied widely, from 49% at Wahikuli-shallow to 4.6% at Mahinahina-shallow. Similarly, coralline algal cover averaged 12.7% at Ka‘opala and Honokeana-north, but was altogether absent at the Mahinahina sites. Macroalgae was a minor component of the benthos across all study sites, representing only up to 2.3% at Mahinahina-south, while turf algae varied considerably, from 41% at Honokeana-north to 84% at the Honokahua site. Consequently, the Benthic Substrate Ratio (BSR) also varied considerably region wide, with the highest values (≥ 1), suggesting a healthier reef condition reported for the Wahikuli, Honokeana, and Honokōwai sites; and the lowest (≤ 0.5), suggesting impairment in structure and function, recorded at the Honolua and Honokahua sites. Adult colony densities were the highest at the Wahikuli (27 col/m2) but lowest at the Ka‘opala (7 col/m2 ) site. And, colony partial mortality peaked at the Ka‘opala (33%) and was the lowest at the Honokeana Bay (12%). Moreover, in-situ and derived estimates of water turbidity and sediment loading revealed that the Ka‘opala and Wahikuli stream sites ranked the highest for turbidity, whereas the Honokōwai and Ka‘opala sites ranked highest for sediment loading.
Chronic and episodic terrestrial sediment stress has resulted in coral reef community demise, clearly illustrated at the Honolua, Honokahua, and Ka‘opala sites, where coral benthic cover and colony abundances ranked the lowest and levels of turf algae ranked among the highest. Left unattended, land-based pollution impacts will continue to negatively affect the coral reef communities of West Maui. And, under the current turbidity and sediment loading conditions, the coral-rich habitats in the Wahikuli and Honōkowai Watersheds are probably at greatest risk, given they harbor the most prominent and well-developed reefs in the region, characterized by the highest coral cover, colony densities, and structural complexity.
Maritime spatial planning (MSP) is envisaged as a tool to apply an ecosystem-based approach to the marine and coastal realms, aiming at ensuring that the collective pressure of human activities is kept within acceptable limits. Cumulative impacts (CI) assessment can support science-based MSP, in order to understand the existing and potential impacts of human uses on the marine environment. A CI assessment includes several sources of uncertainty that can hinder the correct interpretation of its results if not explicitly incorporated in the decision-making process. This study proposes a three-level methodology to perform a general uncertainty analysis integrated with the CI assessment for MSP, applied to the Adriatic and Ionian Region (AIR). We describe the nature and level of uncertainty with the help of expert judgement and elicitation to include all of the possible sources of uncertainty related to the CI model with assumptions and gaps related to the case-based MSP process in the AIR. Next, we use the results to tailor the global uncertainty analysis to spatially describe the uncertainty distribution and variations of the CI scores dependent on the CI model factors. The results show the variability of the uncertainty in the AIR, with only limited portions robustly identified as the most or the least impacted areas under multiple model factors hypothesis. The results are discussed for the level and type of reliable information and insights they provide to decision-making. The most significant uncertainty factors are identified to facilitate the adaptive MSP process and to establish research priorities to fill knowledge gaps for subsequent planning cycles. The method aims to depict the potential CI effects, as well as the extent and spatial variation of the data and scientific uncertainty; therefore, this method constitutes a suitable tool to inform the potential establishment of the precautionary principle in MSP.
Marine ecosystems evolve under many interconnected and area-specific pressures. To fulfil society's intensifying and diversifying needs while ensuring ecologically sustainable development, more effective marine spatial planning and broader-scope management of marine resources is necessary. Integrated ecological–economic fisheries models (IEEFMs) of marine systems are needed to evaluate impacts and sustainability of potential management actions and understand, and anticipate ecological, economic and social dynamics at a range of scales from local to national and regional. To make these models most effective, it is important to determine how model characteristics and methods of communicating results influence the model implementation, the nature of the advice that can be provided and the impact on decisions taken by managers. This article presents a global review and comparative evaluation of 35 IEEFMs applied to marine fisheries and marine ecosystem resources to identify the characteristics that determine their usefulness, effectiveness and implementation. The focus is on fully integrated models that allow for feedbacks between ecological and human processes although not all the models reviewed achieve that. Modellers must invest more time to make models user friendly and to participate in management fora where models and model results can be explained and discussed. Such involvement is beneficial to all parties, leading to improvement of mo-dels and more effective implementation of advice, but demands substantial resources which must be built into the governance process. It takes time to develop effective processes for using IEEFMs requiring a long-term commitment to integrating multidisciplinary modelling advice into management decision-making.
There is growing demand for information regarding the impacts of decisions on ecosystem services and human benefits. Despite the large and growing quantity of published ecosystem services research, there remains a substantial gap between this research and the information required to support decisions. Research often provides models and tools that do not fully link social and ecological systems; are too complex, specialized, and costly to use; and are targeted to outcomes that differ from those needed by decision makers. Decision makers require cost-effective, straightforward, transferable, scalable, meaningful, and defensible methods that can be readily understood. We provide illustrative examples of these gaps between research and practice and describe how researchers can make their work relevant to decision makers by using Benefit Relevant Indicators (BRIs) and choosing models appropriate for particular decision contexts. We use examples primarily from the United States, including cases that illustrate varying degrees of success in closing these gaps. We include a discussion of the challenges and opportunities researchers face in adapting their work to meet the needs of practitioners.
We analyze scientific literature that report tools to spatially model ecosystem services (ES). In the 65 articles reviewed, the most used model starting in 2001 was SWAT and starting in 2009 the most commonly used was InVEST. Eighty percent of the scientific articles have been published from 2010 to 2015 suggesting that spatial modeling of ES is an emergent research field. Only 4 of the 9 tools encountered in our review are backed by papers, the others only offer grey literature. The spatial modeling of ES is mainly done in the U.S.A. and China, and the most frequently evaluated ES are related to hydrological services (water provision and quality treatment), climate regulation and soil formation. Most of the studies are done along hydrological basins, at different spatial scales and based upon different map resolution ranging from 20 to 900 m. With concern, we observe the lack of validation of the spatial models and the tools’ lack of integrated validation modules. As long as the tools used to spatially model ecosystem services continue to be used as black boxes, the models they generate will suffer from a high degree of uncertainty and will not be reliable for decision making purposes.
This paper highlights a disjunction between the basic motivation of conservation planners, policy-makers, and managers, which is to make a positive difference for biodiversity, and many of our day-to-day activities, which are tangential (at best) to the goal of avoiding biodiversity loss. At the core of this problem is the use of conservation measures (inputs, outputs, and outcomes) that do not explicitly address conservation impact, and thus risk undermining its achievement. These measures are used to formulate policy targets and operational objectives, gauge progress towards them, and identify priorities for action. In particular, the pervasive use of representation of biodiversity features as a sole basis for identifying priorities, and the considerable global effort directed towards increasing protected-area extent and assessing protected-area management effectiveness, exemplify that much conservation decision-making is founded more on belief systems than evidence. Measures such as the extent or representativeness of protected areas risk misdirecting conservation actions towards areas of low impact and misleading decision-makers and the public about conservation progress. To promote more effective, evidence-informed decision-making, analytical evidence can and should be used to test and refine decision-makers' implicit models of the world, focusing on predicting conservation impact - the future difference made by our future actions - to increase our effectiveness and accountability.