Biodiversity

Effects of habitat area and spatial configuration on biodiversity in an experimental intertidal community

Loke LHL, Chisholm RA, Todd PA. Effects of habitat area and spatial configuration on biodiversity in an experimental intertidal community. Ecology [Internet]. 2019 :e02757. Available from: https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ecy.2757
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $42.00
Type: Journal Article

Isolating the effects of fragmentation per se (i.e., spatial configuration of habitat patches) on species richness is an ongoing challenge as habitat configuration often co‐varies with the amount of habitat. Consequently, there is a lack of experimental evidence for configurational effects on species richness in the whole landscape. Here, we developed a novel experimental system for testing the independent and interactive effects of habitat area and configuration on tropical intertidal species richness. Our results confirmed the expectation that average species richness would increase monotonically with habitat area. More intriguingly, we found mixed evidence for a non‐monotonic relationship between species richness and fragmentation per se, with the highest richness at intermediate fragmentation configuration, i.e., when habitat tiles were placed in a “several‐small” configuration. The effect of habitat configuration was not due to passive sampling (since area was controlled for), variation in total individual abundance, or niche specialization of species to different landscape configurations. We postulate that a combination of processes, including local negative density dependence and dispersal limitation, could give rise to the observed pattern. We emphasize the importance of considering configurational effects on biodiversity at broader spatial scales and for more experimental research to delve into the mechanisms driving the patterns seen here.

Threats to marine biodiversity in European protected areas

Mazaris AD, Kallimanis A, Gissi E, Pipitone C, Danovaro R, Claudet J, Rilov G, Badalamenti F, Stelzenmüller V, Thiault L, et al. Threats to marine biodiversity in European protected areas. Science of The Total Environment [Internet]. In Press . Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969719318753
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $41.95
Type: Journal Article

Marine protected areas (MPAs) represent the main tool for halting the loss of marine biodiversity. However, there is increasing evidence concerning their limited capacity to reduce or eliminate some threats even within their own boundaries. Here, we analysed a Europe-wide dataset comprising 31,579 threats recorded in 1692 sites of the European Union's Natura 2000 conservation network. Focusing specifically on threats related to marine species and habitats, we found that fishing and outdoor activities were the most widespread threats reported within MPA boundaries, although some spatial heterogeneity in the distribution of threats was apparent. Our results clearly demonstrate the need to reconsider current management plans, standardise monitoring approaches and reporting, refine present threat assessments and improve knowledge of their spatial patterns within and outside MPAs in order to improve conservation capacity and outcomes.

Marine biodiversity research in the Ryukyu Islands, Japan: current status and trends

Reimer JDavis, Biondi P, Lau YWah, Masucci GDiego, Nguyen XHoa, Santos MEA, Wee HBoo. Marine biodiversity research in the Ryukyu Islands, Japan: current status and trends. PeerJ [Internet]. 2019 ;7:e6532. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6464027/?tool=pmcentrez&report=abstract
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Marine biodiversity and derived ecosystem services are critical to the healthy functioning of marine ecosystems, and to human economic and societal well-being. Thus, an understanding of marine biodiversity in different ecosystems is necessary for their conservation and management. Coral reefs in particular are noted for their high levels of biodiversity, and among the world’s coral reefs, the subtropical Ryukyu Islands (RYS; also known as the Nansei Islands) in Japan have been shown to harbor very high levels of marine biodiversity. This study provides an overview of the state of marine biodiversity research in the RYS. First, we examined the amount of English language scientific literature in the Web of Science (WoS; 1995–2017) on six selected representative taxa spanning protists to vertebrates across six geographic sub-regions in the RYS. Our results show clear taxonomic and sub-region bias, with research on Pisces, Cnidaria, and Crustacea to be much more common than on Dinoflagellata, Echinodermata, and Mollusca. Such research was more commonly conducted in sub-regions with larger human populations (Okinawa, Yaeyama). Additional analyses with the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) records show that within sub-regions, records are concentrated in areas directly around marine research stations and institutes (if present), further showing geographical bias within sub-regions. While not surprising, the results indicate a need to address ‘understudied’ taxa in ‘understudied sub-regions’ (Tokara, Miyako, Yakutane, Amami Oshima), particularly sub-regions away from marine research stations. Second, we compared the numbers of English language scientific papers on eight ecological topics for the RYS with numbers from selected major coral reef regions of the world; the Caribbean (CAR), Great Barrier Reef (GBR), and the Red Sea (RES). As expected, the numbers for all topics in the RYS were well below numbers from all other regions, yet within this disparity, research in the RYS on ‘marine protected areas’ and ‘herbivory’ was an order of magnitude lower than numbers in other regions. Additionally, while manuscript numbers on the RYS have increased from 1995 to 2016, the rate of increase (4.0 times) was seen to be lower than those in the CAR, RES, and GBR (4.6–8.4 times). Coral reefs in the RYS feature high levels of both endemism and anthropogenic threats, and subsequently they contain a concentration of some of the world’s most critically endangered marine species. To protect these threatened species and coral reef ecosystems, more data are needed to fill the research gaps identified in this study.

Establishing causal links between aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: Status and research needs

Daam MA, Teixeira H, Lillebø AI, Nogueira AJA. Establishing causal links between aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: Status and research needs. Science of The Total Environment [Internet]. 2019 ;656:1145 - 1156. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969718347685
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Understanding how changes in biodiversity affects ecosystem functioning is imperative in allowing Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM), especially when addressing global change and environmental degradation. Research into the link between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) has indeed increased considerably over the past decades. BEF research has focussed on terrestrial ecosystems and aquatic ecosystems have received considerably less attention. Due to differences in phylogenetic diversity, ecological processes and reported BEF relationships, however, it may at least be questionable whether BEF relationships are exchangeable between these ecosystems (i.e. terrestrial and aquatic). The aim of the present paper was therefore to pinpoint key areas and bottlenecks in establishing BEF relationships for aquatic ecosystems (freshwater, transitional, and marine). To this end, the available literature with special emphasis on the last 10 years was assessed to evaluate: i) reported mechanisms and shapes of aquatic BEF relationships; ii) to what extent BEF relations are interchangeable or ecosystem-specific; and iii) contemporary gaps and needs in aquatic BEF research. Based on our analysis, it may be concluded that despite considerable progress in BEF research over the past decades, several bottlenecks still need to be tackled, namely incorporating the multitude of functions supported by ecosystems, functional distinctiveness of rare species, multitrophic interactions and spatial-temporal scales, before BEF relationships can be used in ecosystem-based management.

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.

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