Biodiversity

Global assessment of marine biodiversity potentially threatened by offshore hydrocarbon activities

Venegas-Li R, Levin N, Morales-Barquero L, Kaschner K, Garilao C, Kark S. Global assessment of marine biodiversity potentially threatened by offshore hydrocarbon activities. Global Change Biology [Internet]. 2019 . Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gcb.14616
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $42.00
Type: Journal Article

Increasing global energy demands have led to the ongoing intensification of hydrocarbon extraction from marine areas. Hydrocarbon extractive activities pose threats to native marine biodiversity, such as noise, light, and chemical pollution, physical changes to the sea floor, invasive species, and greenhouse gas emissions. Here, we assessed at a global scale the spatial overlap between offshore hydrocarbon activities and marine biodiversity (>25,000 species, nine major ecosystems, and marine protected areas), and quantify the changes over time. We discovered that two‐thirds of global offshore hydrocarbon activities occur in areas within the top 10% for species richness, range rarity, and proportional range rarity values globally. Thus, while hydrocarbon activities are undertaken in less than one percent of the ocean's area, they overlap with approximately 85% of all assessed species. Of conservation concern, 4% of species with the largest proportion of their range overlapping hydrocarbon activities are range restricted, potentially increasing their vulnerability to localized threats such as oil spills. While hydrocarbon activities have extended to greater depths since the mid‐1990s, we found that the largest overlap is with coastal ecosystems, particularly estuaries, saltmarshes, and mangroves. Furthermore, in most countries where offshore hydrocarbon exploration licensing blocks have been delineated, they do not overlap with marine protected areas (MPAs). Although this is positive in principle, many countries have far more licensing block areas than protected areas, and in some instances, MPA coverage is minimal. These findings suggest the need for marine spatial prioritisation to help limit future spatial overlap between marine conservation priorities and hydrocarbon activities. Such prioritisation can be informed by the spatial and quantitative baseline information provided here. In increasingly shared seascapes, prioritising management actions that set both conservation and development targets could help minimize further declines of biodiversity and environmental changes at a global scale.

From Science to Evidence – How Biodiversity Indicators Can Be Used for Effective Marine Conservation Policy and Management

McQuatters-Gollop A, Mitchell I, Vina-Herbon C, Bedford J, Addison PFE, Lynam CP, Geetha PN, Vermeulan EAnn, Smit K, Bayley DTI, et al. From Science to Evidence – How Biodiversity Indicators Can Be Used for Effective Marine Conservation Policy and Management. Frontiers in Marine Science [Internet]. 2019 ;6. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2019.00109/full
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Indicators are effective tools for summarizing and communicating key aspects of ecosystem state and have a long record of use in marine pollution and fisheries management. The application of biodiversity indicators to assess the status of species, habitats, and functional diversity in marine conservation and policy, however, is still developing and multiple indicator roles and features are emerging. For example, some operational biodiversity indicators trigger management action when a threshold is reached, while others play an interpretive, or surveillance, role in informing management. Links between biodiversity indicators and the pressures affecting them are frequently unclear as links can be obscured by environmental change, data limitations, food web dynamics, or the cumulative effects of multiple pressures. In practice, the application of biodiversity indicators to meet marine conservation policy and management demands is developing rapidly in the management realm, with a lag before academic publication detailing indicator development. Making best use of biodiversity indicators depends on sharing and synthesizing cutting-edge knowledge and experience. Using lessons learned from the application of biodiversity indicators in policy and management from around the globe, we define the concept of ‘biodiversity indicators,’ explore barriers to their use and potential solutions, and outline strategies for their effective communication to decision-makers.

From Science to Evidence – How Biodiversity Indicators Can Be Used for Effective Marine Conservation Policy and Management

McQuatters-Gollop A, Mitchell I, Vina-Herbon C, Bedford J, Addison PFE, Lynam CP, Geetha PN, Vermeulan EAnn, Smit K, Bayley DTI, et al. From Science to Evidence – How Biodiversity Indicators Can Be Used for Effective Marine Conservation Policy and Management. Frontiers in Marine Science [Internet]. 2019 ;6. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2019.00109/full
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Indicators are effective tools for summarizing and communicating key aspects of ecosystem state and have a long record of use in marine pollution and fisheries management. The application of biodiversity indicators to assess the status of species, habitats, and functional diversity in marine conservation and policy, however, is still developing and multiple indicator roles and features are emerging. For example, some operational biodiversity indicators trigger management action when a threshold is reached, while others play an interpretive, or surveillance, role in informing management. Links between biodiversity indicators and the pressures affecting them are frequently unclear as links can be obscured by environmental change, data limitations, food web dynamics, or the cumulative effects of multiple pressures. In practice, the application of biodiversity indicators to meet marine conservation policy and management demands is developing rapidly in the management realm, with a lag before academic publication detailing indicator development. Making best use of biodiversity indicators depends on sharing and synthesizing cutting-edge knowledge and experience. Using lessons learned from the application of biodiversity indicators in policy and management from around the globe, we define the concept of ‘biodiversity indicators,’ explore barriers to their use and potential solutions, and outline strategies for their effective communication to decision-makers.

Marine heatwaves threaten global biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services

Smale DA, Wernberg T, Oliver ECJ, Thomsen M, Harvey BP, Straub SC, Burrows MT, Alexander LV, Benthuysen JA, Donat MG, et al. Marine heatwaves threaten global biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services. Nature Climate Change [Internet]. 2019 . Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-019-0412-1
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $8.99
Type: Journal Article

The global ocean has warmed substantially over the past century, with far-reaching implications for marine ecosystems1. Concurrent with long-term persistent warming, discrete periods of extreme regional ocean warming (marine heatwaves, MHWs) have increased in frequency2. Here we quantify trends and attributes of MHWs across all ocean basins and examine their biological impacts from species to ecosystems. Multiple regions in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans are particularly vulnerable to MHW intensification, due to the co-existence of high levels of biodiversity, a prevalence of species found at their warm range edges or concurrent non-climatic human impacts. The physical attributes of prominent MHWs varied considerably, but all had deleterious impacts across a range of biological processes and taxa, including critical foundation species (corals, seagrasses and kelps). MHWs, which will probably intensify with anthropogenic climate change3, are rapidly emerging as forceful agents of disturbance with the capacity to restructure entire ecosystems and disrupt the provision of ecological goods and services in coming decades.

Cross and long-shore variations in reef fish assemblage structure and implications for biodiversity management

Bach LL, Saunders BJ, Newman SJ, Holmes TH, Harvey ES. Cross and long-shore variations in reef fish assemblage structure and implications for biodiversity management. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science [Internet]. 2019 ;218:246 - 257. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272771418302282
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $35.95
Type: Journal Article

Fish communities are an important cultural, recreational and commercial resource that also have an important role in the functioning of marine ecosystems. Around the world fish assemblages are experiencing pressures from anthropogenic activities, and marine spatial planning is being established to mitigate these impacts and assist with biodiversity conservation. Information about how fish assemblages are structured across a range of spatial scales which encompass variations in physical, biotic and environmental parameters will assist marine spatial planning and management. We investigated differences in reef fish assemblage composition over three reef lines across an inshore to offshore gradient (3-23 m depth) at two marine reserves (70 km apart) in the Perth metropolitan region, Western Australia. There were significant increases in the number of individuals, species richness, and relative abundance of fish species across the shallow shelf depth gradient in the two locations. There were distinct fish assemblages associated with each reef line, correlated to depth and distance from shore. The differences across the shelf gradient, even over this small depth range, were greater than the differences between the two locations. These findings have implications for marine spatial management and the design of marine reserves that aim to conserve biodiversity. It may be most appropriate for such marine reserves to encompass a wide depth gradient, rather than a large longshore area. At the very least, cross and longshore patterns in fish assemblages should be taken into consideration and used to guide spatial management plans for biodiversity conservation.

Marine environmental DNA biomonitoring reveals seasonal patterns in biodiversity and identifies ecosystem responses to anomalous climatic events

Berry TE, Saunders BJ, Coghlan ML, Stat M, Jarman S, Richardson AJ, Davies CH, Berry O, Harvey ES, Bunce M. Marine environmental DNA biomonitoring reveals seasonal patterns in biodiversity and identifies ecosystem responses to anomalous climatic events Willerslev E. PLOS Genetics [Internet]. 2019 ;15(2):e1007943. Available from: https://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1007943
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Marine ecosystems are changing rapidly as the oceans warm and become more acidic. The physical factors and the changes to ocean chemistry that they drive can all be measured with great precision. Changes in the biological composition of communities in different ocean regions are far more challenging to measure because most biological monitoring methods focus on a limited taxonomic or size range. Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis has the potential to solve this problem in biological oceanography, as it is capable of identifying a huge phylogenetic range of organisms to species level. Here we develop and apply a novel multi-gene molecular toolkit to eDNA isolated from bulk plankton samples collected over a five-year period from a single site. This temporal scale and level of detail is unprecedented in eDNA studies. We identified consistent seasonal assemblages of zooplankton species, which demonstrates the ability of our toolkit to audit community composition. We were also able to detect clear departures from the regular seasonal patterns that occurred during an extreme marine heatwave. The integration of eDNA analyses with existing biotic and abiotic surveys delivers a powerful new long-term approach to monitoring the health of our world’s oceans in the context of a rapidly changing climate.

An interactive atlas for marine biodiversity conservation in the Coral Triangle

Asaad I, Lundquist CJ, Erdmann MV, Costello MJ. An interactive atlas for marine biodiversity conservation in the Coral Triangle. Earth System Science Data [Internet]. 2019 ;11(1):163 - 174. Available from: https://www.earth-syst-sci-data.net/11/163/2019/
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

An online atlas of the Coral Triangle region of the Indo-Pacific biogeographic realm was developed. This online atlas consists of the three interlinked parts: (1) Biodiversity Features; (2) Areas of Importance for Biodiversity Conservation; (3) recommended priorities for Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network Expansion (http://www.marine.auckland.ac.nz/CTMAPS). The first map, Biodiversity Features, provides comprehensive data on the region's marine protected areas and biodiversity features, threats, and environmental characteristics. The second provides spatial information on areas of high biodiversity conservation values, while the third map shows priority areas for expanding the current Coral Triangle MPA network. This atlas provides the most comprehensive biodiversity datasets that have been assembled for the region. The datasets were retrieved and generated systematically from various open-access sources. To engage a wider audience and to raise participation in biodiversity conservation, the maps were designed as an interactive and online atlas. This atlas presents representative information to promote a better understanding of the key marine and coastal biodiversity characteristics of the region and enables the application of marine biodiversity informatics to support marine ecosystem-based management in the Coral Triangle region.

Area-Independent Effects of Water-Retaining Features on Intertidal Biodiversity on Eco-Engineered Seawalls in the Tropics

Loke LHL, Heery EC, Lai S, Bouma TJ, Todd PA. Area-Independent Effects of Water-Retaining Features on Intertidal Biodiversity on Eco-Engineered Seawalls in the Tropics. Frontiers in Marine Science [Internet]. 2019 ;6. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2019.00016/full
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Over the last decade there has been a global effort to eco-engineer urban artificial shorelines with the aim of increasing their biodiversity and extending their conservation value. One of the most common and viable eco-engineering approaches on seawalls is to use enhancement features that increase habitat structural complexity, including concrete tiles molded with complex designs and precast “flowerpots” that create artificial rock pools. Increases in species diversity in pits and pools due to microhabitat conditions (water retention, shade, protection from waves, and/or biotic refugia) are often reported, but these results can be confounded by differences in the surface area sampled. In this study, we fabricated three tile types (n = 10): covered tile (grooved tile with a cover to retain water), uncovered tile (same grooved tile but without a cover) and granite control. We tested the effects of these tile types on species richness (S), total individual abundance (N), and community composition. All tiles were installed at 0.5 m above chart datum along seawalls surrounding two island sites (Pulau Hantu and Kusu Island) south of Singapore mainland. The colonizing assemblages were sampled after 8 months. Consistent with previous studies, mean S was significantly greater on covered tiles compared to the uncovered and granite tiles. While it is implied in much of the eco-engineering literature that this pattern results from greater niche availability allotted by microhabitat conditions, we further investigated whether there was an underlying species-individual relationship to determine whether increases in S could have simply resulted from covered tiles supporting greater N (i.e., increasing the probability of detecting more species despite a constant area). The species-individual relationship was positive, suggesting that multiple mechanisms are at play, and that biodiversity enhancements may in some instances operate simply by increasing the abundance of individuals, even when microhabitat availability is unchanged. This finding underscores the importance of testing mechanisms in eco-engineering studies and highlights ongoing mechanistic uncertainties that should be addressed to inform the design of more biodiverse seawalls and urban marine environments.

A three-dimensional view on biodiversity changes: spatial, temporal, and functional perspectives on fish communities in the Baltic Sea

Frelat R, Orio A, Casini M, Lehmann A, Mérigot B, Otto SA, Sguotti C, Möllmann C. A three-dimensional view on biodiversity changes: spatial, temporal, and functional perspectives on fish communities in the Baltic Sea. ICES Journal of Marine Science [Internet]. 2018 ;75(7):2463 - 2475. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/icesjms/article/75/7/2463/4955416
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Fisheries and marine ecosystem-based management requires a holistic understanding of the dynamics of fish communities and their responses to changes in environmental conditions. Environmental conditions can simultaneously shape the spatial distribution and the temporal dynamics of a population, which together can trigger changes in the functional structure of communities. Here, we developed a comprehensive framework based on complementary multivariate statistical methodologies to simultaneously investigate the effects of environmental conditions on the spatial, temporal and functional dynamics of species assemblages. The framework is tested using survey data collected during more than 4000 fisheries hauls over the Baltic Sea between 2001 and 2016. The approach revealed the Baltic fish community to be structured into three sub-assemblages along a strong and temporally stable salinity gradient decreasing from West to the East. Additionally, we highlight a mismatch between species and functional richness associated with a lower functional redundancy in the Baltic Proper compared with other sub-areas, suggesting an ecosystem more susceptible to external pressures. Based on a large dataset of community data analysed in an innovative and comprehensive way, we could disentangle the effects of environmental changes on the structure of biotic communities—key information for the management and conservation of ecosystems.

Abundance and species diversity hotspots of tracked marine predators across the North American Arctic

Yurkowski DJ, Auger-Méthé M, Mallory ML, Wong SNP, Gilchrist G, Derocher AE, Richardson E, Lunn NJ, Hussey NE, Marcoux M, et al. Abundance and species diversity hotspots of tracked marine predators across the North American Arctic Beger M. Diversity and Distributions [Internet]. 2018 . Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ddi.12860
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $42.00
Type: Journal Article

Aim

Climate change is altering marine ecosystems worldwide and is most pronounced in the Arctic. Economic development is increasing leading to more disturbances and pressures on Arctic wildlife. Identifying areas that support higher levels of predator abundance and biodiversity is important for the implementation of targeted conservation measures across the Arctic.

Location

Primarily Canadian Arctic marine waters but also parts of the United States, Greenland and Russia.

Methods

We compiled the largest data set of existing telemetry data for marine predators in the North American Arctic consisting of 1,283 individuals from 21 species. Data were arranged into four species groups: (a) cetaceans and pinnipeds, (b) polar bears Ursus maritimus (c) seabirds, and (d) fishes to address the following objectives: (a) to identify abundance hotspots for each species group in the summer–autumn and winter–spring; (b) to identify species diversity hotspots across all species groups and extent of overlap with exclusive economic zones; and (c) to perform a gap analysis that assesses amount of overlap between species diversity hotspots with existing protected areas.

Results

Abundance and species diversity hotpots during summer–autumn and winter–spring were identified in Baffin Bay, Davis Strait, Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, Amundsen Gulf, and the Beaufort, Chukchi and Bering seas both within and across species groups. Abundance and species diversity hotpots occurred within the continental slope in summer–autumn and offshore in areas of moving pack ice in winter–spring. Gap analysis revealed that the current level of conservation protection that overlaps species diversity hotspots is low covering only 5% (77,498 km2) in summer–autumn and 7% (83,202 km2) in winter–spring.

Main conclusions

We identified several areas of potential importance for Arctic marine predators that could provide policymakers with a starting point for conservation measures given the multitude of threats facing the Arctic. These results are relevant to multilevel and multinational governance to protect this vulnerable ecosystem in our rapidly changing world.

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