Built Environment

Genetic signatures of ecological diversity along an urbanization gradient

Kelly RP, O’Donnell JL, Lowell NC, Shelton AO, Samhouri JF, Hennessey SM, Feist BE, Williams GD. Genetic signatures of ecological diversity along an urbanization gradient. PeerJ [Internet]. 2016 ;4:e2444. Available from: https://peerj.com/articles/2444/
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Despite decades of work in environmental science and ecology, estimating human influences on ecosystems remains challenging. This is partly due to complex chains of causation among ecosystem elements, exacerbated by the difficulty of collecting biological data at sufficient spatial, temporal, and taxonomic scales. Here, we demonstrate the utility of environmental DNA (eDNA) for quantifying associations between human land use and changes in an adjacent ecosystem. We analyze metazoan eDNA sequences from water sampled in nearshore marine eelgrass communities and assess the relationship between these ecological communities and the degree of urbanization in the surrounding watershed. Counter to conventional wisdom, we find strongly increasing richness and decreasing beta diversity with greater urbanization, and similar trends in the diversity of life histories with urbanization. We also find evidence that urbanization influences nearshore communities at local (hundreds of meters) rather than regional (tens of km) scales. Given that different survey methods sample different components of an ecosystem, we then discuss the advantages of eDNA—which we use here to detect hundreds of taxa simultaneously—as a complement to traditional ecological sampling, particularly in the context of broad ecological assessments where exhaustive manual sampling is impractical. Genetic data are a powerful means of uncovering human-ecosystem interactions that might otherwise remain hidden; nevertheless, no sampling method reveals the whole of a biological community.

Quantitative measurement of vulnerability of selected coastal communities to hydrometeorological hazards, in Iloilo Province, Central Philippines

Bagsit FU, Guzman AMT, Jimenez CN, Serofia GD. Quantitative measurement of vulnerability of selected coastal communities to hydrometeorological hazards, in Iloilo Province, Central Philippines. AES Bioflux [Internet]. 2016 ;8(2):173 - 181. Available from: http://www.aes.bioflux.com.ro/home/volume-8-2-2016/
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Abstract. The impact of current climate variability adversely affects countless communities and this was demonstrated by the supertyphoon Haiyan that ravaged the Eastern and Central Philippines in 2013. In the coming years, the impacts are expected to be more marked and for some communities, catastrophic. According to Dazé et al (2009), vulnerability to climate variations can differ within countries, communities and even households and therefore, adaptation requires context-specific activities with strategies vital in the planning process for an effective adaptation program in response to these hazards. This study was conducted to assess the vulnerability of selected coastal communities to hydrometeorological hazards (HMHs) in Iloilo Province, Central Philippines, specifically in the municipalities of Oton and Concepcion, as these coastal towns have the highest number of registered affected persons (relative to population) in the aftermath of typhoon Fengshen in 2008 (IPDCC 2008), and supertyphoon Haiyan in 2013 (Municipality of Concepcion, unp. data). Assessment of vulnerability was done by constructing a vulnerability index (VI) and results show that study sites in the municipality of Concepcion are more vulnerable to HMHs, as compared to the sites in the municipality of Oton. 

Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Stormwater BMPs and Recommended BMP Design Considerations in Coastal Communities

Anon. Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Stormwater BMPs and Recommended BMP Design Considerations in Coastal Communities. Sandwich, MA: Horsley Witten Group, Inc.; 2015. Available from: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/czm/program-areas/coastal-water-quality/cpr/climate-change-stormwater-bmps.html
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

Coastal areas are vulnerable to flooding and storm damage—issues that are magnified by climate change and sea level rise. When located in coastal areas, stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) are subject to flooding, storm damage, and salt and wind exposure. These impacts are expected to increase over time due to sea level rise, higher groundwater levels, and more frequent and intense storms due to climate change. To help communities address these impacts, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, funded the development of Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Stormwater BMPs and Recommended BMP Design Considerations in Coastal Communities.

Artificial light on water attracts turtle hatchlings during their near shore transit

Thums M, Whiting SD, Reisser J, Pendoley KL, Pattiaratchi CB, Proietti M, Hetzel Y, Fisher R, Meekan MG. Artificial light on water attracts turtle hatchlings during their near shore transit. Royal Society Open Science [Internet]. 2016 ;3(5):160142. Available from: http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/3/5/160142.abstract
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

We examined the effect of artificial light on the near shore trajectories of turtle hatchlings dispersing from natal beaches. Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) hatchlings were tagged with miniature acoustic transmitters and their movements tracked within an underwater array of 36 acoustic receivers placed in the near shore zone. A total of 40 hatchlings were tracked, 20 of which were subjected to artificial light during their transit of the array. At the same time, we measured current speed and direction, which were highly variable within and between experimental nights and treatments. Artificial lighting affected hatchling behaviour, with 88% of individual trajectories oriented towards the light and spending, on average, 23% more time in the 2.25 ha tracking array (19.5 ± 5 min) than under ambient light conditions (15.8 ± 5 min). Current speed had little to no effect on the bearing (angular direction) of the hatchling tracks when artificial light was present, but under ambient conditions it influenced the bearing of the tracks when current direction was offshore and above speeds of approximately 32.5 cm s−1. This is the first experimental evidence that wild turtle hatchlings are attracted to artificial light after entering the ocean, a behaviour that is likely to subject them to greater risk of predation. The experimental protocol described in this study can be used to assess the effect of anthropogenic (light pollution, noise, etc.) and natural (wave action, current, wind, moonlight) influences on the in-water movements of sea turtle hatchlings during the early phase of dispersal.

The Effectiveness, Costs and Coastal Protection Benefits of Natural and Nature-Based Defences

Narayan S, Beck MW, Reguero BG, Losada IJ, van Wesenbeeck B, Pontee N, Sanchirico JN, Ingram JCarter, Lange G-M, Burks-Copes KA. The Effectiveness, Costs and Coastal Protection Benefits of Natural and Nature-Based Defences. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2016 ;11(5):e0154735. Available from: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154735
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

There is great interest in the restoration and conservation of coastal habitats for protection from flooding and erosion. This is evidenced by the growing number of analyses and reviews of the effectiveness of habitats as natural defences and increasing funding world-wide for nature-based defences–i.e. restoration projects aimed at coastal protection; yet, there is no synthetic information on what kinds of projects are effective and cost effective for this purpose. This paper addresses two issues critical for designing restoration projects for coastal protection: (i) a synthesis of the costs and benefits of projects designed for coastal protection (nature-based defences) and (ii) analyses of the effectiveness of coastal habitats (natural defences) in reducing wave heights and the biophysical parameters that influence this effectiveness. We (i) analyse data from sixty-nine field measurements in coastal habitats globally and examine measures of effectiveness of mangroves, salt-marshes, coral reefs and seagrass/kelp beds for wave height reduction; (ii) synthesise the costs and coastal protection benefits of fifty-two nature-based defence projects and; (iii) estimate the benefits of each restoration project by combining information on restoration costs with data from nearby field measurements. The analyses of field measurements show that coastal habitats have significant potential for reducing wave heights that varies by habitat and site. In general, coral reefs and salt-marshes have the highest overall potential. Habitat effectiveness is influenced by: a) the ratios of wave height-to-water depth and habitat width-to-wavelength in coral reefs; and b) the ratio of vegetation height-to-water depth in salt-marshes. The comparison of costs of nature-based defence projects and engineering structures show that salt-marshes and mangroves can be two to five times cheaper than a submerged breakwater for wave heights up to half a metre and, within their limits, become more cost effective at greater depths. Nature-based defence projects also report benefits ranging from reductions in storm damage to reductions in coastal structure costs.

Assessing spatial vulnerability from rapid urbanization to inform coastal urban regional planning

Li Y, Zhang X, Zhao X, Ma S, Cao H, Cao J. Assessing spatial vulnerability from rapid urbanization to inform coastal urban regional planning. Ocean & Coastal Management [Internet]. 2016 ;123:53 - 65. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0964569116300102
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

This study delves into the development of a Geographic Information System (GIS) based vulnerability assessment tool for assessing coastal vulnerability and making prescriptive recommendations on urban planning in coastal regions at a local level. The framework of “exposure-sensitivity-resilience” (ESR) is not only applied, but also improved and refined to take into account a suite of social-ecological indicators. The results demonstrate that vulnerability was not evenly distributed across Haikou's coastal zones, which may be linked to the different stages of ongoing urban planning for coastal Haikou. For the case study areas, vulnerability tends to increase with higher levels of urbanization, but may decrease once the speed of urban expansion is under control. The most vulnerable area is the main city zone where urban residents are concentrated and a developed transportation network exists. Our study contributes to the development of a general methodology to assess vulnerability in rapid urbanization and to apply it to coastal cities around the world.

Community resilience planning guide for buildings and infrastructure systems - Volume 2

Anon. Community resilience planning guide for buildings and infrastructure systems - Volume 2. National Institute of Standards and Technology; 2015. Available from: http://www.nist.gov/el/resilience/guide.cfm
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

The Guide describes a six-step planning process that helps communities develop customized resilience plans by bringing together all relevant stakeholders, establishing community-level performance goals, and developing and implementing plans to become more resilient. This approach focuses on the roles buildings and physical infrastructure systems play in assuring social functions resume when needed after a hazard event. (Social functions include government, business, healthcare, education, community services, religion, culture, and media communications.) If a catastrophic event does occur, resilience planning encourages and enables the community to have plans in place to recover and rebuild in a thoughtful way. Such plans include coordinating with nearby communities as well as with state, regional, and federal agencies. 

Volume II has detailed informational chapters as a reference for Volume I.

Community resilience planning guide for buildings and infrastructure systems - Volume 1

Anon. Community resilience planning guide for buildings and infrastructure systems - Volume 1. National Institute of Standards and Technology; 2015. Available from: http://www.nist.gov/el/resilience/guide.cfm
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

The Guide describes a six-step planning process that helps communities develop customized resilience plans by bringing together all relevant stakeholders, establishing community-level performance goals, and developing and implementing plans to become more resilient. This approach focuses on the roles buildings and physical infrastructure systems play in assuring social functions resume when needed after a hazard event. (Social functions include government, business, healthcare, education, community services, religion, culture, and media communications.) If a catastrophic event does occur, resilience planning encourages and enables the community to have plans in place to recover and rebuild in a thoughtful way. Such plans include coordinating with nearby communities as well as with state, regional, and federal agencies.

Volume I describes the methodology and has an example illustrating the planning process for the fictional town of Riverbend, USA.

Ranking coastal flood protection designs from engineered to nature-based

van der Nat A, Vellinga P, Leemans R, van Slobbe E. Ranking coastal flood protection designs from engineered to nature-based. Ecological Engineering [Internet]. 2016 ;87:80 - 90. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925857415302731
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Compared to traditional hard engineering, nature-based flood protection can be more cost effective, use up less raw materials, increase system adaptability and present opportunities to improve ecosystem functioning. However, high flood safety standards cause the need to combine nature-based structures with traditional civil engineered structures. This increases complexity assessing when and how ecological and engineering objectives of such flood protection systems are achieved. This study classifies the degree to which coastal designs are nature based using criteria for ecosystem-based management (EBM). For the engineering criterion the distinction between main and supporting structures is introduced. To evaluate the ecological criterion five design concepts have been introduced, ranging from completely engineered to completely nature-based.

The method results in an EBM-ranking of the coast, showing where a particular flood protection design stands on the range between completely engineered (low EBM-rank) and nature-based (high EBM-rank). It thus facilitates comparison of different flood protection systems.

The method was the applied on the North-Sea coast of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. The results show that combinations of civil-engineered and nature-based structures are widely applied. However, due to the overall low contribution to flood protection by the nature-based structures, about 85% of the coast is dominated by engineered structures. The majority of these stretches is located in relatively sheltered areas. Improving the flood protection capacity of the nature based structures in these areas is hard to achieve. Therefore, application of more nature-based design concepts on the main structures is the most promising way to improve the EBM-rank of many flood protection systems.

Temporal development of coastal ecosystems in the Baltic Sea over the past two decades

Olsson J, Tomczak MT, Ojaveer H, Gårdmark A, Põllumäe A, Müller-Karulis B, Ustups D, Dinesen GE, Peltonen H, Putnis I, et al. Temporal development of coastal ecosystems in the Baltic Sea over the past two decades. ICES Journal of Marine Science [Internet]. 2015 ;72(9):2539 - 2548. Available from: http://icesjms.oxfordjournals.org/content/72/9/2539.abstract
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Coastal areas are among the most biologically productive aquatic systems worldwide, but face strong and variable anthropogenic pressures. Few studies have, however, addressed the temporal development of coastal ecosystems in an integrated context. This study represents an assessment of the development over time in 13 coastal ecosystems in the Baltic Sea region during the past two decades. The study covers between two to six trophic levels per system and time-series dating back to the early 1990s. We applied multivariate analyses to assess the temporal development of biological ecosystem components and relate these to potential driving variables associated with changes in climate, hydrology, nutrient status, and fishing pressure. Our results show that structural change often occurred with similar timing in the assessed coastal systems. Moreover, in 10 of the 13 systems, a directional development of the ecosystem components was observed. The variables representing key ecosystem components generally differed across systems, due to natural differences and limitation to available data. As a result of this, the correlation between the temporal development of the biological components in each area and the driving variables assessed was to some extent area-specific. However, change in nutrient status was a common denominator of the variables most often associated with changes in the assessed systems. Our results, additionally, indicate existing strengths as well as future challenges in the capacity of currently available monitoring data to support integrated assessments and the implementation of an integrated ecosystem-based approach to the management of the Baltic Sea coastal ecosystems.

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