The spatial coverage of marine and coastal protected areas worldwide has shown a rapid increase in recent years. Over 32% of the world’s coral reefs and over 36% of the world’s mangrove forests now fall within protected areas. However, simple measures of extent are insufficient for assessing progress toward achieving global targets. Notably, the CBD Aichi Target 11 calls for ‘at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services’ to be protected. There is, therefore, an urgent need to assess how well protected areas cover these areas of importance for ecosystem services.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
The Protected Planet Report 2014 follows the recommendation of the Protected Planet Report 2012 to provide a more complete overview of each of these elements of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11. Chapters summarise current knowledge and progress towards achieving each element of the target, and provide further guidance for implementation, based on data from the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), a review of published literature, and expert review.
Stochastic variability of biological processes and uncertainty of stock properties compel fisheries managers to look for tools to improve control over the stock. Inspired by animals exploiting hidden prey, we have taken a biomimetic approach combining catch and effort in a concept of Bayesian regulation (BR). The BR provides a real-time Bayesian stock estimate, and can operate without separate stock assessment. We compared the performance of BR with catch-only regulation (CR), alternatively operating with N-target (the stock size giving maximum sustainable yield, MSY) and F-target (the fishing mortality giving MSY) on a stock model of Baltic Sea herring. N-targeted BR gave 3% higher yields than F-targeted BR and CR, and 7% higher yields than N-targeted CR. The BRs reduced coefficient of variance (CV) in fishing mortality compared to CR by 99.6% (from 25.2 to 0.1) when operated with F-target, and by about 80% (from 158.4 to 68.4/70.1 depending on how the prior is set) in stock size when operated with N-target. Even though F-targeted fishery reduced CV in pre-harvest stock size by 19–22%, it increased the dominant period length of population fluctuations from 20 to 60–80 years. In contrast, N-targeted BR made the periodic variation more similar to white noise. We discuss the conditions when BRs can be suitable tools to achieve sustainable yields while minimizing undesirable fluctuations in stock size or fishing effort.
The Barents Sea system is often depicted as a simple food web in terms of number of dominant feeding links. The most conspicuous feeding link is between the Northeast Arctic cod Gadus morhua, the world's largest cod stock which is presently at a historical high level, and capelin Mallotus villosus. The system also holds diverse seabird and marine mammal communities. Previous diet studies may suggest that these top predators (cod, bird and sea mammals) compete for food particularly with respect to pelagic fish such as capelin and juvenile herring (Clupea harengus), and krill. In this paper we explored the diet of some Barents Sea top predators (cod, Black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, Common guillemot Uria aalge, and Minke whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata). We developed a GAM modelling approach to analyse the temporal variation diet composition within and between predators, to explore intra- and inter-specific interactions. The GAM models demonstrated that the seabird diet is temperature dependent while the diet of Minke whale and cod is prey dependent; Minke whale and cod diets depend on the abundance of herring and capelin, respectively. There was significant diet overlap between cod and Minke whale, and between kittiwake and guillemot. In general, the diet overlap between predators increased with changes in herring and krill abundances. The diet overlap models developed in this study may help to identify inter-specific interactions and their dynamics that potentially affect the stocks targeted by fisheries.
Recently, attempts to improve decision making in species management have focussed on uncertainties associated with modelling temporal fluctuations in populations. Reducing model uncertainty is challenging; while larger samples improve estimation of species trajectories and reduce statistical errors, they typically amplify variability in observed trajectories. In particular, traditional modelling approaches aimed at estimating population trajectories usually do not account well for nonlinearities and uncertainties associated with multi-scale observations characteristic of large spatio-temporal surveys. We present a Bayesian semi-parametric hierarchical model for simultaneously quantifying uncertainties associated with model structure and parameters, and scale-specific variability over time. We estimate uncertainty across a four-tiered spatial hierarchy of coral cover from the Great Barrier Reef. Coral variability is well described; however, our results show that, in the absence of additional model specifications, conclusions regarding coral trajectories become highly uncertain when considering multiple reefs, suggesting that management should focus more at the scale of individual reefs. The approach presented facilitates the description and estimation of population trajectories and associated uncertainties when variability cannot be attributed to specific causes and origins. We argue that our model can unlock value contained in large-scale datasets, provide guidance for understanding sources of uncertainty, and support better informed decision making.
Outbreaks of coral diseases are one of the greatest threats to reef corals in the Caribbean, yet the mechanisms that lead to coral diseases are still largely unknown. Here we examined the spatial-temporal dynamics of white-pox disease on Acropora palmata coral colonies of known genotypes. We took a Bayesian approach, using Integrated Nested Laplace Approximation algorithms, to examine which covariates influenced the presence of white-pox disease over seven years. We showed that colony size, genetic susceptibility of the coral host, and high-water temperatures were the primary tested variables that were positively associated with the presence of white-pox disease on A. palmata colonies. Our study also showed that neither distance from previously diseased individuals, nor colony location, influenced the dynamics of white-pox disease. These results suggest that white-pox disease was most likely a consequence of anomalously high water temperatures that selectively compromised the oldest colonies and the most susceptible coral genotypes.
With globalization, agriculture and aquaculture activities are increasingly affected by diseases that are spread through movement of crops and stock. Such movements are also associated with the introduction of non-native species via hitchhiking individual organisms. The oyster industry, one of the most important forms of marine aquaculture, embodies these issues. In Europe disease outbreaks affecting cultivated populations of the naturalized oyster Crassostrea gigas caused a major disruption of production in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mitigation procedures involved massive imports of stock from the species’ native range in the northwestern Pacific from 1971 to 1977. We assessed the role stock imports played in the introduction of non-native marine species (including pathogens) from the northwestern Pacific to Europe through a methodological and critical appraisal of record data. The discovery rate of non-native species (a proxy for the introduction rate) from 1966 to 2012 suggests a continuous vector activity over the entire period. Disease outbreaks that have been affecting oyster production since 2008 may be a result of imports from the northwestern Pacific, and such imports are again being considered as an answer to the crisis. Although successful as a remedy in the short and medium terms, such translocations may bring new diseases that may trigger yet more imports (self-reinforcing or positive feedback loop) and lead to the introduction of more hitchhikers. Although there is a legal framework to prevent or reduce these introductions, existing procedures should be improved.
Integrated coastal management (ICM) has attracted attention in Vietnam since the Summit of Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in 1992 (Rio-92) and was first analyzed in the national project on “Research on development of ICM plan in Vietnam to ensure ecological security and to protect the environment” (1996-2000). And marine spatial planning (MSP) is a new concept that promotes sustainable coastal and marine management and assists in the integration of economic, environmental and social concerns in strategic planning and long-term investments. MSP can improve coastal resilience in Vietnam that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. This document informed policy-makers about ICM, MSP and the difference between these measures. Additionally, it outlines ICM and MSP application, recent projects, programs and recommendation for ICM and MSP implementation in Vietnam.
Protection of natural environments sought through management plans varies greatly between countries; characterizing these differences and what motivates them can inform future regional and international conservation efforts. This research builds on previous work addressing the spatial distribution of marine protected areas in the Mediterranean Sea. Particularly, it examines the relationship between a “protection level” (PL) score and a set of variables pertaining to each country's conservation efforts, economic conditions, and human impact along the coast using regression analysis. Four sets of models demonstrated country characteristics that correlate with higher protection levels within marine protected areas (MPAs). Certain contextual factors - economic dependence on the marine environment, efforts at terrestrial conservation and greater human impact - were found to be significantly associated with higher PLs among the northern littoral countries of the Mediterranean. Such findings can inform policy makers about where efforts and investments should be directed for marine conservation.
This paper presents the Biogeographic Assessment Framework (BAF), a decision support process for marine spatial planning (MSP), developed through two decades of close collaborations between scientists and marine managers. Spatial planning is a considerable challenge for marine stewardship agencies because of the need to synthesize information on complex socio-ecological patterns across geographically broad spatial scales. This challenge is compounded by relatively short time-frames for implementation and limited financial and technological resources. To address this pragmatically, BAF provides a rapid, flexible and multi-disciplinary approach to integrate geospatial information into formats and visualization tools readily useable for spatial planning. Central to BAF is four sequential components: (1) Planning; (2) Data Evaluation; (3) Ecosystem Characterization; and (4) Management Applications. The framework has been applied to support the development of several marine spatial plans in the United States and Territories. This paper describes the structure of the BAF framework and the associated analytical techniques. Two management applications are provided to demonstrate the utility of BAF in supporting decision making in MSP.
Recent evolutions in computing science and web technology provide the environmental community with continuously expanding resources for data collection and analysis that pose unprecedented challenges to the design of analysis methods, workflows, and interaction with data sets. In the light of the recent UK Research Council funded Environmental Virtual Observatory pilot project, this paper gives an overview of currently available implementations related to web-based technologies for processing large and heterogeneous datasets and discuss their relevance within the context of environmental data processing, simulation and prediction. We found that, the processing of the simple datasets used in the pilot proved to be relatively straightforward using a combination of R, RPy2, PyWPS and PostgreSQL. However, the use of NoSQL databases and more versatile frameworks such as OGC standard based implementations may provide a wider and more flexible set of features that particularly facilitate working with larger volumes and more heterogeneous data sources.
Understanding changes in trophic group interactions following the implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs) is critical in understanding their success, or otherwise. A systematic review and meta-analysis was used to determine trends in the effects of MPAs on primary producers and herbivores from 57 locations throughout the world. On coral reefs, macroalgal coverage and sea urchin density were significantly (p<0.05p<0.05) lower within MPAs, with 79% and 83% of MPAs reporting smaller populations of these groups, respectively. Conversely, in kelp/algal habitats, where habitat-forming macroalgae are beneficial, no statistical differences were found in either algal coverage or herbivore density, however, 70% of MPAs reported lower densities of urchins. Finally, we found that the literature conveyed a significant negative relationship between grazer density effect sizes and macroalgal coverage effect sizes. Our results indicate that the tropho-dynamics of recovering fish populations in disparate habitats is likely to be more complex than initially thought, and partly driven by differential fisheries and habitat effects. This study highlights the importance of selecting MPAs based on the processes that assist in the recovery of ecosystems in the aftermath of fishing, in addition to habitat quality and representativeness.
Seascape ecology is an emerging discipline focused on understanding how features of the marine habitat influence the spatial distribution of marine species. However, there is still a gap in the development of concepts and techniques for its application in the marine pelagic realm, where there are no clear boundaries delimitating habitats. Here we demonstrate that pelagic seascape metrics defined as a combination of hydrographic variables and their spatial gradients calculated at an appropriate spatial scale, improve our ability to model pelagic fish distribution. We apply the analysis to study the spawning locations of two tuna species: Atlantic bluefin and bullet tuna. These two species represent a gradient in life history strategies. Bluefin tuna has a large body size and is a long-distant migrant, while bullet tuna has a small body size and lives year-round in coastal waters within the Mediterranean Sea. The results show that the models performance incorporating the proposed seascape metrics increases significantly when compared with models that do not consider these metrics. This improvement is more important for Atlantic bluefin, whose spawning ecology is dependent on the local oceanographic scenario, than it is for bullet tuna, which is less influenced by the hydrographic conditions. Our study advances our understanding of how species perceive their habitat and confirms that the spatial scale at which the seascape metrics provide information is related to the spawning ecology and life history strategy of each species.
As the number of marine protected areas (MPAs) increases globally, so does the need to assess if MPAs are meeting their management goals. Integral to this assessment is usually a long-term biological monitoring program, which can be difficult to develop for large and remote areas that have little available fine-scale habitat and biological data. This is the situation for many MPAs within the newly declared Australian Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR) network which covers approximately 3.1 million km2 of continental shelf, slope, and abyssal habitat, much of which is remote and difficult to access. A detailed inventory of the species, types of assemblages present and their spatial distribution within individual MPAs is required prior to developing monitoring programs to measure the impact of management strategies. Here we use a spatially-balanced survey design and non-extractive baited video observations to quantitatively document the fish assemblages within the continental shelf area (a multiple use zone, IUCN VI) of the Flinders Marine Reserve, within the Southeast marine region. We identified distinct demersal fish assemblages, quantified assemblage relationships with environmental gradients (primarily depth and habitat type), and described their spatial distribution across a variety of reef and sediment habitats. Baited videos recorded a range of species from multiple trophic levels, including species of commercial and recreational interest. The majority of species, whilst found commonly along the southern or south-eastern coasts of Australia, are endemic to Australia, highlighting the global significance of this region. Species richness was greater on habitats containing some reef and declined with increasing depth. The trophic breath of species in assemblages was also greater in shallow waters. We discuss the utility of our approach for establishing inventories when little prior knowledge is available and how such an approach may inform future monitoring efforts within the CMR network.
Nutrient load reductions are needed to improve the state of the Baltic Sea, but it is still under debate how they should be implemented. In this paper, we use data from an environmental valuation study conducted in all nine Baltic Sea states to investigate public preferences of relevance to three of the involved decision-dimensions: First, the roles of nitrogen versus phosphorus reductions causing different eutrophication effects; second, the role of time – the lag between actions to reduce nutrient loads and perceived improvements; and third; the spatial dimension and the roles of actions targeting the coastal and open sea environment and different sub-basins. Our findings indicate that respondents view and value the Baltic Sea environment as a whole, and are not focussed only on their local sea area, or a particular aspect of water quality. We argue that public preferences concerning these three perspectives should be one of the factors guiding marine policy. This requires considering the entire range of eutrophication effects, in coastal and open sea areas, and including long-term and short-term measures.
Ocean acidification, often referred to as the “other CO2 problem”, is a direct result of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, cement production and other human activities. As atmospheric CO2 increases, more enters the ocean across the sea surface. This process has significant societal benefits: by absorbing around a quarter of the total human production of CO2, the ocean has substantively slowed climate change. But it also has less desirable consequences, since the dissolved CO2 affects seawater chemistry, with a succession of potentially adverse impacts on marine biodiversity, ecosystem services and human society.
The starting point for such changes is an increase in seawater acidity, resulting from the release of hydrogen ions (H+). Acidity is measured on the logarithmic pH scale, with H+ concentrations* at pH 7.0 being ten times greater than at pH 8.0. Since preindustrial times, the mean pH in the surface ocean has dropped by 0.1 units, a linear-scale increase in acidity of ~26%. Unless CO2 emissions are rapidly curtailed, mean surface pH is projected – with a high degree of certainty – to fall by a further ~0.3 units by 2100, representing an acidity increase of around 170% compared to pre-industrial levels. The actual change will depend on future CO2 emissions, with both regional and local variations in the oceanic response (Chapter 3).
Very many scientific studies in the past decade have unequivocally shown that a wide range of marine organisms are sensitive to pH changes of such magnitude, affecting their physiology, fitness and survival, mostly (but not always) in a negative way. The consequences of ocean acidification for marine food webs, ecosystems, biogeochemistry and the human use of marine resources are, however, much less certain. In particular, ocean acidification is not the only environmental change that organisms will experience in future, since it will occur in combination with other stressors (e.g., increasing temperature and deoxygenation). The biological effects of multiple stressors occurring together cannot be assumed to be additive; instead, due to interactions, their combined impacts may be amplified (through synergism) or diminished (antagonism). Furthermore, there is now evidence that some – but not necessarily all – organisms may show genetically mediated, adaptive responses to ocean acidification.
This review provides an updated synthesis of the impacts of ocean acidification on marine biodiversity based upon current literature, including emerging research on the geological history of natural ocean acidification events, and the projected societal costs of future acidification. The report takes into consideration comments and feedback submitted by Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, other Governments and organizations as well as experts who kindly peer-reviewed the report.
The manual outlines the rationale and project design for measuring blue carbon in the field and approaches for data analysis and reporting. Effort was made to ensure consistency with international standards, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines, and other relevant sourcebooks.
The manual is structured as follows:
Chapter 1: Introduces the role of blue carbon in climate change mitigation and outlines the manual’s purpose and objectives;
Chapter 2: Outlines the main steps to prepare a robust field measurement plan;
Chapter 3: Provides protocols and guidance for measuring organic carbon stocks found in the soils of all three ecosystems;
Chapter 4: Provides protocols and guidance for measuring organic carbon stocks, found in above- and belowground biomass, with specific protocols designed for each ecosystem;
Chapter 5: H ighlights methods for determining the changes in carbon stocks over time and monitoring greenhouse gas emissions;
Chapter 6: G ives an overview of remote sensing options and applications;
Chapter 7: Provides guidance on managing large data sets and data sharing; and
Appendices: T here are several appendices; they contain supplementary information, worked through examples, lists of equations, and more.
Climate change is unequivocal. There is ample evidence from around the globe that changes have already occurred. This reality is forcing decision-makers to evaluate the potential impacts, risks, vulnerabilities and opportunities that climate change presents. The development of adaptation plans and actions to adjust to this new reality requires decision-makers to increase their understanding of available climate information. The rapid advances in climate science and evolving understanding of the potential risks and opportunities arising from climate change impacts will require decision-makers to engage in more proactive and iterative management.
This guide is a tool for decision-makers to familiarize themselves with future climate information. It is aimed at all actors involved in climate change adaptation, from those in the early stages of climate change awareness to those involved in implementing adaptation measures. The guide consists of three main sections. The first categorizes climate information based on its use and on its level of complexity. The second section presents a catalogue of different ways in which climate information can be presented to decision-makers, such as planners, engineers, resource managers, and government. Finally, a third section outlines key climate modeling concepts that support a good understanding of climate information in general.
This document is not detailed enough to inform users on how to prepare different types of climate information, nor is it intended as a critical analysis of how the information is produced. Rather, it highlights the importance of working in collaboration with climate service providers to obtain climate information. The guide allows users to engage more easily with climate service providers and to become more critical of the information that is provided to them. It should be recognised that, at this point in time, the number of climate service providers is low relative to the demand for climate information.
Using this guide will allow decision-makers to become more familiar with climate information products and hence better evaluate what climate information best suits their needs. Key important messages emerging from the guide include:
- Climate information at different levels of complexity can be valuable, depending on the type of decision being made. More detailed information is not always necessary to inform better decisions
- Climate information can be tailored into formats that best match the level of expertise of the decision-makers;
- Decisions should be based on a range of plausible futures; a single best climate scenario does not exist;
- It is important to understand the limitations of the climate information used.
The heart of this Guide is the Matrix of 100 tools, divided into user categories (general public, resource manager, and technical expert) and subject areas. So whether you are a community planner who wants to see the potential cost/benefits of building a sea wall or a forest scientist who wants to work on species connectivity for many species simultaneously, you can quickly look up which tools might be appropriate for you.
All 100 tools are described in detail following the Matrix.
Things to note:
- We use a broad definition of tools, including anything that facilitated: 1) gathering and distributing relevant data (e.g. regional databases that support queries and downloads); 2) conducting analyses and modeling (e.g. vulnerability assessments); 3) visualizing data and analysis/modeling results (including current and potential future conditions); and, 4) integrating information into planning for conservation, land use, and land management.
- We place an emphasis on tools currently in use within the region.
- We do not include products that were simply guidelines, frameworks, or processes (but the Appendix does include some that seemed especially useful; for example, see TESSA).
- We mostly avoid tools that were geared to one state or province and those that could not be readily utilized throughout the region.
- We do not include tools that are more accurately described as services—in other words, those that required extensive and expensive—personalized set-up or customization.
- We avoid tools that were no longer maintained as well as most tools still under development. Because tools often become obsolete and new ones frequently emerge, this guide should be updated periodically.
The Background section of this guide lists the Necessary and Desired Attributes of the tools included in the Matrix.
We have selected 11 tools from the Matrix that we describe as a “toolkit” that can support many of the NPLCC’s needs. Each of these tools also had widespread interest among NPLCC partners and/or applicability to multiple functions in the Matrix. This guide takes an in-depth look at these 11 Featured Tools, covering what they do best, how they work, their data requirements, key outputs, computer and software requirements, training requirements, and costs. A “snapshot” of each featured tool gives a brief description, examples of use, and an “at-a-glance” table that shows the tools in a matrix format.
We chose four tools to explore further via Case Studies. These are here to provide a more nuanced look at how tools have actually been applied, especially where the application experience yielded important Lessons Learned and Helpful Hints. The case studies from the region will also promote national and international awareness of NPLCC work on landscape-level conservation in the face of climate change.
Finally, the Appendix lists other potentially useful resources that did not qualify as one of our “Matrix tools” but that may assist you with your work—for example, by helping you use the tools more effectively.
This is a short guide to governance for protected/conserved areas that briefly summarizes the points in the full-length report, Governance of Protected Areas.