Ecological engineering principles are increasingly being applied to develop multifunctional artificial structures or rehabilitated habitats in coastal areas. Ecological engineering initiatives are primarily driven by marine scientists and coastal managers, but often the views of key user groups, which can strongly influence the success of projects, are not considered. We used an online survey and participatory mapping exercise to investigate differences in priority goals, sites and attitudes towards ecological engineering between marine scientists and coastal managers as compared to other stakeholders. The surveys were conducted across three Australian cities that varied in their level of urbanisation and environmental pressures. We tested the hypotheses that, relative to other stakeholders, marine scientists and coastal managers will: 1) be more supportive of ecological engineering; 2) be more likely to agree that enhancement of biodiversity and remediation of pollution are key priorities for ecological engineering; and 3) identify different priority areas and infrastructure or degraded habitats for ecological engineering. We also tested the hypothesis that 4) perceptions of ecological engineering would vary among locations, due to environmental and socio-economic differences. In all three harbours, marine scientists and coastal managers were more supportive of ecological engineering than other users. There was also greater support for ecological engineering in Sydney and Melbourne than Hobart. Most people identified transport infrastructure, in busy transport hubs (i.e. Circular Quay in Sydney, the Port in Melbourne and the Waterfront in Hobart) as priorities for ecological engineering, irrespective of their stakeholder group or location. There were, however, significant differences among locations in what people perceive as the key priorities for ecological engineering (i.e. biodiversity in Sydney and Melbourne vs. pollution in Hobart). Greater consideration of these location-specific differences is essential for effective management of artificial structures and rehabilitated habitats in urban embayments.
A simple hypothesis-driven model of how floating marine plastic litter is blown onto a beach, and then moved on and off the beach by winds and rising and falling water levels is implemented in a computer simulation. The simulation applied to Aberdeen beach, Scotland, suggests that the interaction between varying winds and water levels alone, coupled to an assumed constant offshore floating litter density, can account for 1) the order of magnitude of the long term average (2000−2010) beach plastic litter loading (observed = 127 np/100 m, simulated = 114 np/100 m); 2) the observed frequency spectrum of low water beach plastic litter loadings; 3) the magnitude of the ratio between offshore floating plastic litter densities and onshore beach plastic litter loadings; 4) zero overall net beach plastic litter accumulation. Results are relevant to beach survey design, designing methods to estimate litter accumulation rates and the setting of MSFD beach litter targets.
Activities involving observation of wild organisms (e.g. wildlife watching, tidepooling) can provide recreational and learning opportunities, with biologically diverse animal assemblages expected to be more stimulating to humans. In turn, more diverse communities may enhance human interest and facilitate provisioning of cultural services. However, no experimental tests of this biodiversity-interest hypothesis exist to date. We therefore investigated the effects of different dimensions of animal biodiversity (species richness, phyletic richness and functional diversity) on self-reported interest using tide pools as a model system. We performed two experiments by manipulating: (1) the richness of lower (species) and higher taxonomic levels (phyla) in an image based, online survey, and (2) the richness of the higher taxonomic level (phyla) in live public exhibits. In both experiments, we further quantified functional diversity, which varied freely, and within the online experiment we also included the hue diversity and colourfulness arising from the combination of organisms and the background scenes. Interest was increased by phyletic richness (both studies), animal species richness (online study) and functional diversity (online study). A structural equation model revealed that functional diversity and colourfulness (of the whole scene) also partially mediated the effects of phyletic richness on interest in the online study. In both studies, the presence of three of four phyla additively increased interest, supporting the importance of multiple, diverse phyla rather than a single particularly interesting phylum. These results provide novel experimental evidence that multiple dimensions of biodiversity enhance human interest and suggest that conservation initiatives that maintain or restore biodiversity will help stimulate interest in ecosystems, facilitating educational and recreational benefits.
Protected areas (PAs) are a prominent approach to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services. A critical question for safeguarding these resources is how PA governance processes and management structures influence their effectiveness. We conduct an impact evaluation of 12 PAs in three Central American countries to assess how processes in management restrictions, management capacity, and decentralization affect the annual change in the satellite-derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). NDVI varies with greenness that relates to plant production, biomass, and important ecosystem functions related to biodiversity and ecosystem services such as water quality and carbon storage. Any loss of vegetation cover in the form of deforestation or degradation would show up as a decrease in NDVI values over time and gains in vegetation cover and regeneration as an increase in NDVI values. Management restriction categories are based on international classifications of strict versus multiple-use PAs, and capacity and decentralization categories are based on key informant interviews of PA managers. We use matching to create a counterfactual of non-protected observations and a matching estimator and regression to estimate treatment effects of each sub-sample. On average, strict and multiple-use PAs have a significant and positive effect on NDVI compared to non-protected land uses. Both high and low decentralized PAs also positively affect NDVI. High capacity PAs have a positive and significant effect on NDVI, while low capacity PAs have a negative effect on NDVI. Our findings advance knowledge on how governance and management influence PA effectiveness and suggest that capacity may be more important than governance type or management restrictions in maintaining and enhancing NDVI. This paper also provides a guide for future studies to incorporate measures of PA governance and management into impact evaluations.
Although evidence suggests the ubiquity of microplastics in the marine environment, our knowledge of its occurrence within remote habitats, such as the deep sea, is scarce. Furthermore, long term investigations of microplastic abundances are even more limited. Here we present a long-term study of the ingestion of microplastics by two deep-sea benthic invertebrates (Ophiomusium lymani and Hymenaster pellucidus) sampled over four decades. Specimens were collected between the years 1976–2015 from a repeat monitoring site >2000 m deep in the Rockall Trough, North East Atlantic. Microplastics were identified at a relatively consistent level throughout and therefore may have been present at this locality prior to 1976. Considering the mass production of plastics began in the 1940s - 50s our data suggest the relatively rapid occurrence of microplastics within the deep sea. Of the individuals examined (n = 153), 45% had ingested microplastics, of which fibres were most prevalent (95%). A total of eight different polymer types were isolated; polyamide and polyester were found in the highest concentrations and in the majority of years, while low-density polystyrene was only identified in 2015. This study provides an assessment of the historic occurrence of microplastics on the deep seafloor and presents a detailed quantification and characterisation of microplastics ingested by benthic species. Furthermore these data advance our knowledge on the long-term fate of microplastic in marine systems.
While undeniably successful in protecting nearshore marine ecosystems from overfishing, conventional marine reserves often impinge on the livelihoods of dependent coastal communities. Community co-managed areas may guarantee considerably more equity, but it is unclear if they can be as effective as conventional reserves in conserving critical trophic functions. We evaluated the effectiveness of different management regimes in the Gulf of California on fish biomass and echinoderm assemblages as proxies of key ecosystem processes on rocky shores. We compared multiple sites in a mixed (multi-use areas with regulated extraction) and core (no-extraction) federally-managed areas, a military MPA (where strict patrolling ensures no extraction), a co-managed reserve where government and communities are equally responsible, and unrestricted-access areas (non MPA). Fish biomass was higher in the military reserve and the community co-managed area reserve; echinoderm numbers were very low at these locations suggesting that they were strongly controlled by top-down processes. In contrast, federally-controlled reserves were virtually no different from unrestricted-access areas in numbers or composition of fish and echinoderms. Although federal managed reserves are the most common management regime across the Gulf, our data shows that they are highly ineffective in protecting ecosystem function. The relative effectiveness of co-managed reserves in this region suggests that fishers are more willing to comply when they have a stake in decision-making. Coastal conservation can benefit greatly by drawing from a wider suite of management options that engage local communities as key participants in the managing marine diversity and critical ecosystem functions.
In the wake of the Napoleonic wars, the Admiralty Hydrographic Office revived and expanded the tradition of state sponsored scientific voyages. These voyages produced charts and technical sailing directions for navigators. They also generated general narratives for a wider audience. In such narratives, officers gave chronological accounts of their travels that folded in miscellaneous scientific content, from instrument tables to natural historical and ethnographical descriptions. These narratives are easy to dismiss as potboilers, clumsy accounts that simply exploited the market for travel writing. Focusing on the hydrographers and texts involved with a pair of famous voyages, the Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of H.M.S. Adventure and Beagle (1839), I argue that the general narratives deserve closer attention. In an age better known for developing specialists and disciplines, the Admiralty voyage narratives followed a model of generalist knowledge. As distinctive literary products of hydrography, moreover, they reflected the values and training of a Royal Navy hydrographer. The texts are a neglected element of early Victorian print culture. Showing the imperial hydrographer at work in throughout the world's oceans, they are also part of the history of globalized knowledge. Through a consideration of these texts, we can see how hydrography treated accuracy, synthesis and crisis.
For protected areas to achieve their conservation goals, visitors should be aware of reserve boundaries and follow the protective measures within them. However, lack of knowledge about the specifics of reserve geography and rules can lead to actions that adversely affect marine life (unsanctioned fishing and collecting) or disturb sensitive species within these areas, even when general support for protected areas is high. We assessed public awareness of State Marine Reserves locations and policies on the central California coast. Using surveys in the form of semi-structured interviews and written questionnaires, we asked beach visitors whether they had prior knowledge about State Marine Reserves. We provided half of participants with new knowledge about State Marine Reserves in the form of a verbal, short pre-survey speech. We asked participants to indicate if they were currently standing inside of a State Marine Reserve and assessed their self-reported likelihoods of performing several actions related to environmental etiquette such as following reserve rules. Finally, we tested how provisional new knowledge influences perceptions surrounding the importance of protecting marine habitats and human impacts on them. Overall, 60% of participants had heard of marine reserves, though this varied by participant region of residence. 33% of participants with prior knowledge and 13% of participants with no prior knowledge identified site protection status correctly. Over half of participants self-reported behaviors consistent with reserve rules and environmental etiquette. Survey participants who received new knowledge did not differ from the control group in their ability to correctly identify reserve location or in their perceptions of human impacts. Our results suggest that the information in our short verbal speech was not sufficient for changing perceptions, though over 90% of visitors stated marine protection to was already personally important or very important to them. Beach visitors intend to treat reserves well if they know they are visiting a reserve. However, because less than one third of visitors recognize reserve locations, a disconnect exists between understanding acceptable behavior for protected sites and knowing where to apply this behavior. Finally, we discuss the educational strategies of docent presence and place-based learning opportunities to improve awareness of marine reserves and their locations for local and non-local visitors.
Here we test an application, based on the analysis of the metadata of geotagged photographs, to investigate the provision of recreational services by the network of wetland ecosystems in the state of Kerala, India. We estimate visitation to individual wetlands state-wide and extend, for the first time to a developing region, the emerging application of recreational ecosystem services (ES) modelling using data from social media and environmental quality data. The impacts of restoration of wetland areal extension and water quality improvement are explored as a means to inform sustainable management strategies. Findings show that improving water quality to a level suitable for the preservation of wildlife and fisheries could increase annual recreational visits by 13% (350,000) to wetlands state-wide. Results support the notion that passive crowdsourced data from social media has the potential to improve current ecosystem service analyses and environmental management practices also in the context of developing countries.
Successfully managing current threats to marine resources and ecosystems is largely dependent on our ability to understand and manage human behavior. In recent times we have seen increased growth in research to understand the human dimension of marine resource use, and the associated implications for management. However, despite progress to date, marine research and management have until recently largely neglected the critically important role of “sense of place,” and its role in influencing the success and efficacy of management interventions. To help address this gap we review the existing literature from various disciplines, e.g., environmental psychology, and sectors, both marine and nonmarine sectors, to understand the ways is which sense of place has been conceptualized and measured. Doing so we draw on three key aspects of sense of place, person, place, and process, to establish a framework to help construct a more organized and consistent approach for considering and representing sense of place in marine environmental studies. Based on this we present indicators to guide how sense of place is monitored and evaluated in relation to marine resource management, and identify practical ways in which this framework can be incorporated into existing decision-support tools. This manuscript is a first step toward increasing the extent to which sense of place is incorporated into modeling, monitoring, and management decisions in the marine realm.
Climate change research aims to understand global environmental change and how it will impact nature and society. The broad scope of climate change impacts means that successful adaptation and mitigation efforts will require an unprecedented collaboration effort that unites diverse disciplines and is able to rapidly respond to evolving climate issues (IPCC, 2014). However, to achieve this aim, climate change research practices need updating: key research findings remain behind journal paywalls, and scientific progress can be impeded by low levels of reproducibility and transparency (Ellison, 2010; Morueta-Holme et al., 2018), individual data ownership (Hampton et al., 2015), and inefficient research workflows (Lowndes et al., 2017). Furthermore, the level of public interest and policy engagement on climate change issues relies on fast communication of academic research to public institutions, with the result that the societal impact of climate change studies will differ according to their public availability and exposure. Here, we argue that by adopting open science (OS) principles, scientists can advance climate change research and accelerate efforts to mitigate impacts; especially for highly vulnerable developing regions of the world where research capacity is limited. We underscore the specific benefits of OS in raising the academic and societal impact of climate change research using citation and media metrics.
Marine managers routinely use spatial data to make decisions about their marine environment. Uncertainty associated with this spatial data can have profound impacts on these management decisions and their projected outcomes. Recent advances in modeling techniques, including species distribution models (SDMs), make it easier to generate continuous maps showing the uncertainty associated with spatial predictions and maps. However, SDM predictions and maps can be complex and nuanced. This complexity makes their use challenging for non-technical managers, preventing them from having the best available information to make decisions. To help bridge these communication and information gaps, we developed maps to illustrate how SDMs and associated uncertainty can be translated into readily usable products for managers. We also explicitly described the potential impacts of uncertainty on marine zoning decisions. This approach was applied to a case study in Saipan Lagoon, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Managers in Saipan are interested in minimizing the potential impacts of personal watercraft (e.g., jet skis) on staghorn Acropora (i.e., Acropora aspera, A. formosa, and A. pulchra), which is an important coral assemblage in the lagoon. We used a recently completed SDM for staghorn Acropora to develop maps showing the sensitivity of zoning options to three different prediction and three different uncertainty thresholds (nine combinations total). Our analysis showed that the amount of area and geographic location of predicted staghorn Acropora presence changed based on these nine combinations. These dramatically different spatial patterns would have significant zoning implications when considering where to exclude and/or allow jet skis operations inside the lagoon. They also show that different uncertainty thresholds may lead managers to markedly different conclusions and courses of action. Defining acceptable levels of uncertainty upfront is critical for ensuring that managers can make more informed decisions, meet their marine resource goals and generate favorable outcomes for their stakeholders.
Management of and planning for the Canadian marine environment can be disrupted by conflict, but conflict is inevitable given the plurality of actors, interests, values, and uses of marine space. Unresolved conflict may impede governance objectives and threaten the sustainability of social-ecological systems. Innovative institutional arrangements such as adaptive comanagement theoretically reduce conflict and support sustainable management. The southwest New Brunswick Bay of Fundy Marine Advisory Committee (MAC) was assembled in 2004 to address conflict between marine users and to further marine planning. As an innovative planning institution influenced by comanagement theory, the MAC experience served as a case study to develop governance measures for the Canadian Fisheries Research Network Comprehensive Fisheries Sustainability Framework, which includes a consideration of ecological, social, economic, and governance dimensions of sustainability. One of the most important but neglected aspects of sustainability measurements involves the assessment of governance and planning effectiveness. An assessment of the MAC experience through a comprehensive sustainability evaluation framework offers significant lessons for advancing the theoretical and empirical literature on adaptive comanagement through deeper consideration of challenges in creating institutions of “good governance.” In doing so, the case study also contributes to the Comprehensive Fisheries Sustainability Framework by testing some measures of governance effectiveness, including co-operation, resources, transparency, accountability, and inclusivity.
The location and stability of low-lying carbonated reef islands are closely related to wave refraction over reef platforms, which create low energy wave convergence zones favorable for sediment deposition. Although there is great concern about the stability of reef islands in future decades, few studies have attempted to assess the effects of sea-level rise on wave refraction patterns and the migration of wave convergence zones, which may promote changes in island positions. To investigate the mechanisms of wave refraction over a shallow lagoon atoll (Rocas Atoll), we performed a detailed topo-bathymetric survey to simulate wave propagation for different water levels and wave conditions considering the complex atoll morphology. Our results show that the locations of convergence zones are not only influenced by wave direction and wave interactions with the elliptical reef shape but also controlled by topographic variations in the reef structure. In particular, the presence of a wide reef passage on the leeward margin of Rocas Atoll has an important role in the atoll wave refraction pattern. Model simulations show a displacement of the wave convergence zone and increase in wave energy under increased sea level. However, the direction of this displacement is more sensitive to the incident wave period than to the wave direction due to topographic control. Swell waves, either from the north or south, tend to move the convergence zone lagoonwards, whereas wind waves tend to move this zone seawards. Thus, the results suggest that, under sea-level rise scenarios, areas prone to sediment accumulation will become less stable. The relative frequency between swell and wind wave incidence will be an important driver of morphological change patterns in reef islands.
The potential presence of introduced antibiotics in the aquatic environment is a hot topic of concern, particularly in the Antarctic, a highly vulnerable area protected under the Madrid protocol. The increasing presence of human population, especially during summer, might led to the appearance of pharmaceuticals in wastewater. The previous discovery of Escherichia coli strains resistant to antibiotics in sea water and wastewater collected in King George Island motivated our investigation on antibiotics occurrence in these samples. The application of a multi-residue LCMS/MS method for 20 antibiotics, revealed the presence of 8 compounds in treated wastewater, mainly the quinolones ciprofloxacin and norfloxacin (92% and 54% of the samples analyzed, average concentrations 0.89 μg/L and 0.75 μg/L, respectively) and the macrolides azithromycin and clarithromycin (15% positive samples, and average concentrations near 0.4 μg/L), and erythromycin (38% positive samples, average concentration 0.003 μg/L). Metronidazole and clindamycin were found in one sample, at 0.17 and 0.1 μg/L, respectively; and trimethoprim in two samples, at 0.001 μg/L. Analysis of sea water collected near the outfall of the wastewater discharges also showed the sporadic presence of 3 antibiotics (ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, trimethoprim) at low ng/L level, illustrating the impact of pharmaceuticals consumption and the poor removal of these compounds in conventional WWTPs. The most widespread antibiotic in sea water was ciprofloxacin, which was found in 15 out of 34 sea water samples analyzed, at concentrations ranging from 4 to 218 ng/L. Bacteria resistance was observed for some antibiotics identified in the samples (e.g. trimetropim and nalidixic acid –a first generation quinolone). However, resistance to some groups of antibiotics could not be correlated to their presence in the water samples due to analytical limitations (penicillins, tetraciclines). On the contrary, for some groups of antibiotics detected in samples (macrolides), the antibacterial activity against E. Coli was not investigated because these antibiotics do not include this bacterial species in their spectrum of activity.
Our preliminary data demonstrate that antibiotics occurrence in the Antarctic aquatic environment is an issue that needs to be properly addressed. Periodical monitoring of water samples and the implementation of additional treatments in the WWTPs are recommended as a first step to prevent potential problems related to the presence of antibiotics and other emerging contaminants in the near future in Antarctica.
Coastal tourism is a growing industry sector in the Mediterranean Basin. This and the other human activities occurring along the coastline share space and resources, leading to conflicts for divergent uses. Moreover, the overexploitation of natural resources degrades and depletes coastal habitats, with negative feedback effects for all human activities. Hence, both tourism and the other human activities have to consider their dependence on coastal ecosystem services, and act at technical and policy level to reach a compromise that preserves natural resources in the long term. Here we provide a conceptual framework illustrating the complex relationships and trade-offs among threats from coastal tourism and from other human activities and coastal ecosystem services, with a focus on cultural ones. We discuss the negative feedbacks on tourism development and provide examples of geospatial analysis on cumulative threats generated by other human activities and affecting tourism itself. The proposed conceptual framework and the threat analysis aim at highlighting the negative feedback effects of human driven threats on the development of Mediterranean coastal tourism, through an ecosystem service perspective. Both tools provide valuable insight for supporting decision makers and planners in achieving integrated coastal management, with a focus on sustainable tourism.
Broad-scale surveys for the economically valuable gastropod queen conch in historically important fishing grounds of the Bahamian archipelago provide opportunity to explore the impact of variable fishing intensity on population structures. Visual surveys spanning two decades showed that densities of mature individuals had a significant negative relationship with an index of fishing pressure (FP). Average shell length in a population was not related to FP, but shell lip thickness (an index of conch age) declined significantly with FP. Repeated surveys in three fishing grounds revealed that densities of mature conch have declined in all of those locations and the populations have become younger with time. Densities have also declined significantly in three repeated surveys (over 22 years) conducted in a large no-take fishery reserve. Unlike fished populations, the protected population has aged and appears to be declining for lack of recruitment. In all fishing grounds except those most lightly fished, densities of adult conch are now below that needed for successful mating and reproduction. It is clear that queen conch populations in The Bahamas have undergone serial depletion, nearing fishery collapse, and a wide range of recommendations aimed at stock recovery are offered including a broader network of no-take reserves.
There are three main themes in this self-reflective essay, and I hope they are thought-provoking without being pretentious. The first is the topic of scientific specialization. How do we steer a course between being a dilettante on one hand, dabbling in everything without making major contributions in any field, and on the other hand being a specialist who digs deeply but too narrowly? The second theme is the concept of specialization with respect to place, and the study of natural history. It can be incredibly rewarding, both personally and professionally, to develop a rich ecological understanding of a particular place such as a field station. However, this requires a great commitment of time, and it reduces mobility and experience elsewhere. The third theme is the importance of mentoring and the transfer of encouragement and opportunity from one cohort to the next. I will address these three themes in this order but they are closely linked to each other, making the separation somewhat artificial.
Interactions between fishing vessels and oil and gas infrastructure can result in damage to fishing gear, loss of fishing time/access, and risks to crew health and safety. The spatial and temporal patterns characterizing previous incidents (and subsequent losses) between fishers and oil and gas infrastructure were quantified and used to identify key risk factors associated with fisheries losses. Between the years 1989 and 2016, 1590 incidents that resulted in a financial loss, vessel abandonment, or an injury/fatality for UK commercial fishers were recorded. The annual number of recorded incidents decreased by 98.6% over a 27-year period. The majority of past incidences resulted in financial losses (rather than injuries or fatalities) and were associated with interactions between single otter trawlers and oil and gas production-related debris. The odds of an incidence occurring varied according to substrate type and fishing intensity. A risk-model for pipeline–fishing interactions in the Fladen Ground showed that there was significant spatial heterogeneity in the risk of an incident along a pipeline according to the angle and intensity of fishing. The results highlight the need to include the full spectrum of potential losses in fisheries impact assessments associated with the installation and decommissioning of oil and gas assets.
This study describes the pathologic findings and most probable causes of death (CD) of 224 cetaceans stranded along the coastline of the Canary Islands (Spain) over a 7-year period, 2006–2012. Most probable CD, grouped as pathologic categories (PCs), was identified in 208/224 (92.8%) examined animals. Within natural PCs, those associated with good nutritional status represented 70/208 (33.6%), whereas, those associated with significant loss of nutritional status represented 49/208 (23.5%). Fatal intra- and interspecific traumatic interactions were 37/208 (17.8%). Vessel collisions included 24/208 (11.5%). Neonatal/perinatal pathology involved 13/208 (6.2%). Fatal interaction with fishing activities comprised 10/208 (4.8%). Within anthropogenic PCs, foreign body-associated pathology represented 5/208 (2.4%). A CD could not be determined in 16/208 (7.7%) cases. Natural PCs were dominated by infectious and parasitic disease processes. Herein, our results suggest that between 2006 and 2012, in the Canary Islands, direct human activity appeared responsible for 19% of cetaceans deaths, while natural pathologies accounted for 81%. These results, integrating novel findings and published reports, aid in delineating baseline knowledge on cetacean pathology and may be of value to rehabilitators, caregivers, diagnosticians and future conservation policies.