This report presents the health status of 319 sites along the MAR, analyzes the changes over the last decade for several indicators and proposes actions to improve reef health.
Worldwide, coral reef ecosystems are experiencing increasing pressure from a variety of anthropogenic perturbations including ocean warming and acidification, increased sedimentation, eutrophication, and overfishing, which could shift reefs to a condition of net calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dissolution and erosion. Herein, we determine the net calcification potential and the relative balance of net organic carbon metabolism (net community production; NCP) and net inorganic carbon metabolism (net community calcification; NCC) within 23 coral reef locations across the globe. In light of these results, we consider the suitability of using these two metrics developed from total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) measurements collected on different spatiotemporal scales to monitor coral reef biogeochemistry under anthropogenic change. All reefs in this study were net calcifying for the majority of observations as inferred from alkalinity depletion relative to offshore, although occasional observations of net dissolution occurred at most locations. However, reefs with lower net calcification potential (i.e., lower TA depletion) could shift towards net dissolution sooner than reefs with a higher potential. The percent influence of organic carbon fluxes on total changes in dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) (i.e., NCP compared to the sum of NCP and NCC) ranged from 32% to 88% and reflected inherent biogeochemical differences between reefs. Reefs with the largest relative percentage of NCP experienced the largest variability in seawater pH for a given change in DIC, which is directly related to the reefs ability to elevate or suppress local pH relative to the open ocean. This work highlights the value of measuring coral reef carbonate chemistry when evaluating their susceptibility to ongoing global environmental change and offers a baseline from which to guide future conservation efforts aimed at preserving these valuable ecosystems.
Anthropic activities are directly related to the contamination of aquatic ecosystems owing to the release of numerous chemicals from agricultural and urban waste. These contaminants cause environmental degradation and a decrease in the availability of water quality. The objective of this search was to evaluate the efficiency of physicochemical, chemical, and microbiological tests; extraction of chlorophyll a; and genetic parameters to identify anthropic activities and weather condition effects on the stream water quality and the consequences of its use by the population. The physicochemical parameters were within the limits allowed by the Brazilian law. However, contamination by metals (Cd 0.510 mg L−1, Co 0.405 mg L−1, and Ni 0.316 mg L−1) has been found at various collection points to be more than the allowable values. The antibiotic oxytetracycline was detected in stream water in quantities of up to 89 μg L−1. In relation to microbiological contamination, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas spp. have been isolated. The averages of chlorophyll a were up to 0.15558 mg cm−2. Genetic tools identified greater number of micronuclei and DNA damage in periods that showed lower rainfall rates and lower amounts of metals. The analysis used for monitoring was efficient to verify the interference that animal breeding and planting of different cultures have caused on that stream. Thus, the continued use of this water for drinking, irrigation of vegetables, and recreational activities makes the population susceptible to contamination by bacteria and creates conditions for the development of genetic alterations in the long run.
Oxygen is fundamental to life. Not only is it essential for the survival of individual animals, but it regulates global cycles of major nutrients and carbon. The oxygen content of the open ocean and coastal waters has been declining for at least the past half-century, largely because of human activities that have increased global temperatures and nutrients discharged to coastal waters. These changes have accelerated consumption of oxygen by microbial respiration, reduced solubility of oxygen in water, and reduced the rate of oxygen resupply from the atmosphere to the ocean interior, with a wide range of biological and ecological consequences. Further research is needed to understand and predict long-term, global- and regional-scale oxygen changes and their effects on marine and estuarine fisheries and ecosystems.
Rising demand for minerals and metals, including for use in the technology sector, has led to a resurgence of interest in exploration of mineral resources located on the seabed. Such resources, whether seafloor massive (polymetallic) sulfides around hydrothermal vents, cobalt-rich crusts (CRCs) on the flanks of seamounts or fields of manganese (polymetallic) nodules on the abyssal plains, cannot be considered in isolation of the distinctive, in some cases unique, assemblages of marine species associated with the same habitats and structures. In addition to mineral deposits, there is interest in extracting methane from gas hydrates on continental slopes and rises. Many of the regions identified for future seabed mining are already recognized as vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs). Since its inception in 1982, the International Seabed Authority (ISA), charged with regulating human activities on the deep-sea floor beyond the continental shelf, has issued 27 contracts for mineral exploration, encompassing a combined area of more than 1.4 million km2, and continues to develop rules for commercial mining. At the same time, some seabed mining operations are already taking place within continental shelf areas of nation states, generally at relatively shallow depths, and with others at advanced stages of planning. The first commercial enterprise, expected to target mineral-rich sulfides in deeper waters, at depths between 1,500 and 2,000 m on the continental shelf of Papua New Guinea, is scheduled to begin early in 2019. In this review, we explore three broad aspects relating to the exploration and exploitation of seabed mineral resources: (1) the current state of development of such activities in areas both within and beyond national jurisdictions, (2) possible environmental impacts both close to and more distant from mining activities and (3) the uncertainties and gaps in scientific knowledge and understanding which render baseline and impact assessments particularly difficult for the deep sea. We also consider whether there are alternative approaches to the management of existing mineral reserves and resources, which may reduce incentives for seabed mining.
Since the discovery of Chromera velia as a novel coral-associated microalga, this organism has attracted interest because of its unique evolutionary position between the photosynthetic dinoflagellates and the parasitic apicomplexans. The nature of the relationship between Chromera and its coral host is controversial. Is it a mutualism, from which both participants benefit, a parasitic relationship, or a chance association? To better understand the interaction, larvae of the common Indo-Pacific reef-building coral Acropora digitifera were experimentally infected with Chromera, and the impact on the host transcriptome was assessed at 4, 12, and 48 h post-infection using Illumina RNA-Seq technology. The transcriptomic response of the coral to Chromera was complex and implies that host immunity is strongly suppressed, and both phagosome maturation and the apoptotic machinery is modified. These responses differ markedly from those described for infection with a competent strain of the coral mutualist Symbiodinium, instead resembling those of vertebrate hosts to parasites and/or pathogens such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Consistent with ecological studies suggesting that the association may be accidental, the transcriptional response of A. digitifera larvae leads us to conclude that Chromera could be a coral parasite, commensal, or accidental bystander, but certainly not a beneficial mutualist.
"Methods to Locate Derelict Fishing Gear in Marine Waters" contains a general overview of the methodologies used globally to locate lost, abandoned and discarded fishing gear in the marine environment. It describes a number of different methods used to locate lost gear, outlines the benefits and limitations of each method, and provides contact information for individuals / organizations experienced in the methods described. The document also contains a selection of case studies and examples for each method and suggests contacts for further information.
Climate change affects species and ecosystems around the globe . The impacts of rising temperature are particularly pertinent in species with temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), where the sex of an individual is determined by incubation temperature during embryonic development . In sea turtles, the proportion of female hatchlings increases with the incubation temperature. With average global temperature predicted to increase 2.6°C by 2100 , many sea turtle populations are in danger of high egg mortality and female-only offspring production. Unfortunately, determining the sex ratios of hatchlings at nesting beaches carries both logistical and ethical complications. However, sex ratio data obtained at foraging grounds provides information on the amalgamation of immature and adult turtles hatched from different nesting beaches over many years. Here, for the first time, we use genetic markers and a mixed-stock analysis (MSA), combined with sex determination through laparoscopy and endocrinology, to link male and female green turtles foraging in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) to the nesting beach from which they hatched. Our results show a moderate female sex bias (65%–69% female) in turtles originating from the cooler southern GBR nesting beaches, while turtles originating from warmer northern GBR nesting beaches were extremely female-biased (99.1% of juvenile, 99.8% of subadult, and 86.8% of adult-sized turtles). Combining our results with temperature data show that the northern GBR green turtle rookeries have been producing primarily females for more than two decades and that the complete feminization of this population is possible in the near future.
Species invasions often occur at geographic scales that preclude complete eradication, setting up long-term battles for population control. To understand the extent to which exotic species removal by volunteers can contribute to local invasion suppression and alleviate invasion effects, we studied the activities of volunteers culling invasive lionfish during annual “derby” events in the Atlantic. From 2012 to 2014, single-day derbies reduced lionfish densities by 52% over 192 km2 on average each year. Differences in recolonization and productivity between regions meant that annual events were sufficient to suppress the invasion below levels predicted to cause declines in native species in one region, but not the other. Population reduction was not related to catch per unit effort, confirming the importance of in situ monitoring to gauge control effectiveness. Culling by volunteers may be a useful tool in areas where exotic species are easily identified and safely captured, and culling can be promoted as an ongoing recreational activity. Strategically guiding volunteer effort toward sensitive or underserved habitats could aid practitioners in optimizing their use of limited resources for invasion management.
With the level of industrial activities increasing in Arctic areas it is crucial to assure that dedicated oil spill response capabilities and strategies are available for deployment in this region. To further build on existing research and improve technologies and methodologies for Arctic oil spill response, nine oil and gas companies established the Arctic Response Technology Joint Industry Program (ART-JIP) in 2012 with the goal to advance Arctic oil spill response strategies and equipment as well as to increase understanding of potential impacts of oil on the Arctic marine environment. As part of the environmental effects research program of the ART-JIP a comprehensive review of the environmental impacts arising from both the oil spill itself and the countermeasures activities was executed. A number of research activities were identified to improve the knowledge base for using a Net Environmental Benefit Analysis (NEBA) in the Arctic. As a follow-up of the review modelling-, laboratory- and field studies were conducted. The data collected from the review and the additional studies have been organized in an information tool to support tool Arctic NEBA. Results from the studies have improved the understanding of what happens to oil once frozen into ice, how the microbe communities are reacting to oil in ice and what the exposure potential and effects are on the marine organisms that live in association with the ice. This output from the ART-JIP will help managing oil spill impacts and will assist in the definition of a response strategy that minimizes effects to the environment.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been established across all marine environments, though their coherence and effectiveness in protecting umbrella species remains unclear. We used a multi-model ensemble forecasting approach, on 8 years of at-sea censuses of 30 seabird species to identify candidate MPAs in the Portuguese coast, prioritizing important areas for their conservation based on their occurrence and distribution. We overlapped the outputs generated by the Ensemble Ecological Niche Models (EENMs) with layers representing important environmental stressors (fishing intensity, ship density and oil pollution risk), and calculated loss in conservation value using them as cost layers. Three key marine areas were identified along the Portuguese coast: For breeders, there was a key marine area encompassing the Tagus and Sado estuaries and Berlengas archipelago; for non-breeders and migratory species two important areas were identified in the Northern and Southern coast. The key marine area identified in the Northern coast is characterized by high productivity and biodiversity, and can be affected by oil pollution from the refineries and the intensive ship traffic in this area. Also, the area identified in the Southern coast of Portugal for migratory seabirds overlaps extensively with areas of high fishing activity. Our results show that the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) established along the Portuguese coast protect more than a third of the areas that we prioritized for breeding species and the official MPAs near 65% of the same areas. In contrast, current IBAs and national legislation protect less than 4% of the coastal areas that we prioritize for non-breeding species in this study. Our study, combining multi-species distribution with environmental constraints induced by human activities, allowed us to assess the coherence of the Portuguese marine planning and identify candidate areas to join the Portuguese network of marine protected areas. Our results, employing data from annual at-sea surveys together with the human stressors known to affect the Portuguese coast, proved to be an extremely useful strategy to identify spatial conservation areas along the Portuguese coast as well as to access the adequacy and consistency of those areas. Despite the constraints of this demanding approach, we are confident that our study provides a reliable strategy to inform marine conservation efforts and management planning in similar coastal environments elsewhere, characterized by strong coastal upwelling movements.
Despite marine fish being an important food resource for coastal communities, the amount of fish caught by small-scale fisheries is unsustainable at many locations. Fish consumers have a critical role in species conservation because they can choose responsibly and avoid consuming overexploited or endangered species. In this study, local human consumption patterns and local knowledge about groupers and sharks caught by small-scale local fisheries were investigated in a Brazilian coral reef complex. Fish consumers were interviewed in a fish market setting regarding their monthly fish consumption, knowledge of endangered species, and strategies they do to consume fish responsibly. Of the 126 local fish consumers, 94% and 76% reported to buying sharks and groupers, respectively, on a monthly basis. The main strategies they used to consume fish responsibly were 1) getting fishmonger's advice and 2) buying fish on reliable fish markets. Our findings are important to understanding fish consumption preferences, which can contribute to the implementation of educational initiatives aiming to raise consumers’ awareness regarding responsible consumption.
Coastal areas are under increasing pressure from rapid human population growth, yet empirical research on the effect of migration on coastal and marine resources is scarce. We contribute to this understudied literature by conducting an original household survey in a coastal region of Southeastern Ghana. This study employs two proxies for pro-environmental behavior that have not, to our knowledge, been used in the context of coastal migration, to explicitly compare migrant and non-migrant populations. Environmental attitudes toward coastal resources and individual extraction behavior in common-pool resource (CPR) experiments have shown broad relevance in the literature to understand natural resource decision making. We found that migrants in general did not differ significantly from non-migrants in relation to their environmental attitudes or their extraction behavior in the CPR game. However, when focusing on migrant fishers only, results suggested that this subgroup was less concerned about the utilization of coastal resources than non-migrant fishers and behaved less cooperatively in the CPR experiment. These findings, though, held true only for the subgroup of fishers, and could not be found for other occupational groups. Therefore, we conclude that migrants do not per se value coastal resources less or cooperate less in CPR situations, but that socioeconomic characteristics, and particularly their occupational status and their relation to the resource, matter.
Compliance is critical for effective conservation, and non-compliance regularly negates the desired outcomes of the world's marine protected areas. To increase compliance, practitioners must understand why resource users are breaking the rules, why these behaviours continue to occur, and how to effectively confront non-compliance. This study interviewed 682 recreational fishers of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) to examine the social components of compliance management. These components included fisher's perceptions of non-compliance, or poaching (defined here as fishing in no-take zones), as well as the beliefs, attitudes, normative influences, consumptive orientation and perceived behavioural controls that may influence fisher's decisions to poach. Encouragingly, most fishers had high perceptions of the legitimacy of management agencies and thought poaching was socially and personally unacceptable. However, these findings suggest that four (mis)perceptions or mechanisms are likely operative and at least partially responsible for continued non-compliance by fishers. These included pluralistic ignorance, false consensus, social learning, and a perceived lack of deterrence. Numerous tools can be used to address and correct these perceptions, including social norms and influence approaches, strengthened coercive deterrence measures, fear-arousing communications, and social outreach. If properly implemented, these tools and approaches should not only increase compliance but also reduce support (whether active or passive) for a culture of non-compliance.
Coral reef ecosystems and the people who depend on them are increasingly exposed to the adverse effects of global environmental change (GEC), including increases in sea-surface temperature and ocean acidification. Managers and decision-makers need a better understanding of the options available for action in the face of these changes. We refine a typology of actions developed by Gattuso et al. (2015) that could serve in prioritizing strategies to deal with the impacts of GEC on reefs and people. Using the typology we refined, we investigate the scientific effort devoted to four types of management strategies: mitigate, protect, repair, adapt that we tie to the components of the chain of impact they affect: ecological vulnerability or social vulnerability. A systematic literature review is used to investigate quantitatively how scientific effort over the past 25 years is responding to the challenge posed by GEC on coral reefs and to identify gaps in research. A growing literature has focused on these impacts and on management strategies to sustain coral reef social-ecological systems. We identify 767 peer reviewed articles published between 1990 and 2016 that address coral reef management in the context of GEC. The rate of publication of such studies has increased over the years, following the general trend in climate research. The literature focuses on protect strategies the most, followed by mitigate and adapt strategies, and finally repair strategies. Developed countries, particularly Australia and the United States, are over-represented as authors and locations of case studies across all types of management strategies. Authors affiliated in developed countries play a major role in investigating case studies across the globe. The majority of articles focus on only one of the four categories of actions. A gap analysis reveals three directions for future research: (1) more research is needed in South-East Asia and other developing countries where the impacts of GEC on coral reefs will be the greatest, (2) more scholarly effort should be devoted to understanding how adapt and repair strategies can deal with the impacts of GEC, and (3) the simultaneous assessment of multiple strategies is needed to understand trade-offs and synergies between actions.
The Canterbury earthquakes resulted in numerous changes to the waterways of Ōtautahi Christchurch. These included bank destabilisation, liquefaction effects, changes in bed levels, and associated effects on flow regimes and inundation levels. This study set out to determine if these effects had altered the location and pattern of sites utilised by inanga (Galaxias maculatus) for spawning, which are typically restricted to very specific locations in upper estuarine areas.
Extensive surveys were carried out in the Heathcote/Ōpāwaho and Avon/Ōtākaro catchments over the four peak months of the 2015 spawning season. New spawning sites were found in both rivers and analysis against pre-earthquake records identified that other significant changes have occurred.
Major changes include the finding of many new spawning sites in the Heathcote/Ōpāwaho catchment. Sites now occur up to 1.5km further downstream than the previously reported limit and include the first records of spawning below the Woolston Cut. Spawning sites in the Avon/Ōtākaro catchment also occur in new locations. In the mainstem, sites now occur both upstream and downstream of all previously reported locations. A concentrated area of spawning was identified in Lake Kate Sheppard at a distinctly different location versus pre-quake records, and no spawning was found on the western shores. Spawning was also recorded for the first time in Anzac Creek, a nearby waterway connected to Lake Kate Sheppard via a series of culverts. Overall the results indicate that spawning is taking place in different locations from the pre-quake pattern. Although egg survival was not measured in this study, sites in new locations may be vulnerable to current or future land-use activities that are incompatible with spawning success. Consequently, there are considerable management implications associated with this spatial shift, primarily relating to riparian management. In particular, there is a need to control threats to spawning sites and achieve protection for the areas involved. This is required under the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 and is a prominent objective in a range of other policies and plans.mainstem, sites now occur both upstream and downstream of all previously reported locations. A concentrated area of spawning was identified in Lake Kate Sheppard at a distinctly different location versus pre-quake records, and no spawning was found on the western shores. Spawning was also recorded for the first time in Anzac Creek, a nearby waterway connected to Lake Kate Sheppard via a series of culverts.
Overall the results indicate that spawning is taking place in different locations from the pre-quake pattern. Although egg survival was not measured in this study, sites in new locations may be vulnerable to current or future land-use activities that are incompatible with spawning success. Consequently, there are considerable management implications associated with this spatial shift, primarily relating to riparian management. In particular, there is a need to control threats to spawning sites and achieve protection for the areas involved. This is required under the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 and is a prominent objective in a range of other policies and plans.
The Papua New Guinea (PNG) marine aquarium fishery was partly managed by total allowable catch (TAC) limits, implemented since the fishery's inception in 2008. Species-specific TACs, based on stock assessments conducted prior to the commencement of fishing, were established for all fish and invertebrate species presumed to be fished by the fishery. By analysing the selectivity of the PNG fishery in 2012, a large portion (74.9%) of the managed fish diversity (n = 267 species) was found to be “weakly” to “strongly” avoided relative to their availability. More than half (53.2%; n = 142) of the fish species with TACs were never fished in 2012. Of those species with TACs that were actually fished, 76.8% (n = 96) of fish and all invertebrate catches never exceeded 1% of their TACs. Catches of only seven fish species exceeded 10% of their TACs. Catch records also identified 124 fish species that were fished in the absence of species-specific TACs. Unbiased recursive partitioning was used to examine ecological attributes of these species to help identify flaws in the methods used for initial TAC assignment. Refining the role species-specific TACs play in the management of this fishery is necessary to optimise managerial resources. The lessons learned from this approach to marine aquarium fishery management are likely to be of interest and value to PNG, other developing island nations, and marine aquarium fisheries globally.
Size generally dictates metabolic requirements, trophic level, and consequently, ecosystem structure, where inefficient energy transfer leads to bottom-heavy ecosystem structure and biomass decreases as individual size (or trophic level) increases. However, many animals deviate from simple size-based predictions by either adopting generalist predatory behavior, or feeding lower in the trophic web than predicted from their size. Here we show that generalist predatory behavior and lower trophic feeding at large body size increase overall biomass and shift ecosystems from a bottom-heavy pyramid to a top-heavy hourglass shape, with the most biomass accounted for by the largest animals. These effects could be especially dramatic in the ocean, where primary producers are the smallest components of the ecosystem. This approach makes it possible to explore and predict, in the past and in the future, the structure of ocean ecosystems without biomass extraction and other impacts.
Rising seas will impact millions of coastal residents in coming decades. The vulnerability of coastal populations exposed to inundation will be greater for some sub-populations due to differences in their socio-demographic characteristics. Many climate risk and vulnerability assessments, however, model current populations against future environments. We advance sea-level rise risk assessments by dynamically modeling environmental change and socio-demographic change. We project three scenarios of inundation exposure due to future sea-level rise in coastal Georgia from 2010 to 2050. We align the sea-level rise projections with five population projection scenarios of socially vulnerable sub-populations via the Hamilton-Perry method and the theory of demographic metabolism. Our combined fast sea-level rise and middle population scenarios project a near doubling of the population exposed, and a more than five-fold increase for those at risk (i.e., residing in a census tract with high social vulnerability) and most at risk (i.e., high social vulnerability and high exposure) compared to the same estimate based on 2010 population data. Of vulnerable sub-populations, women had the largest absolute increase in exposure for all scenario combinations. The Hispanic/Latinx population's exposure increased the largest proportionally under the fast and medium sea-level rise projections and elderly people's (65+) under the slow sea-level rise scenario. Our findings suggest that for coastal areas experiencing rapid growth (or declines) in more socially vulnerable sub-populations, estimates based on current population data are likely to underestimate (or overestimate) the proportion of such groups' risk to inundation from future sea-level rise.
Understanding global patterns of biodiversity change is crucial for conservation research, policies and practices. However, for most ecosystems, the lack of systematically collected data at a global level limits our understanding of biodiversity changes and their local-scale drivers. Here we address this challenge by focusing on wetlands, which are among the most biodiverse and productive of any environments1,2 and which provide essential ecosystem services3,4, but are also amongst the most seriously threatened ecosystems3,5. Using birds as an indicator taxon of wetland biodiversity, we model time-series abundance data for 461 waterbird species at 25,769 survey sites across the globe. We show that the strongest predictor of changes in waterbird abundance, and of conservation efforts having beneficial effects, is the effective governance of a country. In areas in which governance is on average less effective, such as western and central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South America, waterbird declines are particularly pronounced; a higher protected area coverage of wetland environments facilitates waterbird increases, but only in countries with more effective governance. Our findings highlight that sociopolitical instability can lead to biodiversity loss and undermine the benefit of existing conservation efforts, such as the expansion of protected area coverage. Furthermore, data deficiencies in areas with less effective governance could lead to underestimations of the extent of the current biodiversity crisis.