Considerable effort is being deployed to predict the impacts of climate change and anthropogenic activities on the ocean's biophysical environment, biodiversity, and natural resources to better understand how marine ecosystems and provided services to humans are likely to change and explore alternative pathways and options. We present an updated version of EcoOcean (v2), a spatial-temporal ecosystem modeling complex of the global ocean that spans food-web dynamics from primary producers to top predators. Advancements include an enhanced ability to reproduce spatial-temporal ecosystem dynamics by linking species productivity, distributions, and trophic interactions to the impacts of climate change and worldwide fisheries. The updated modeling platform is used to simulate past and future scenarios of change, where we quantify the impacts of alternative configurations of the ecological model, responses to climate-change scenarios, and the additional impacts of fishing. Climate-change scenarios are obtained from two Earth-System Models (ESMs, GFDL-ESM2M, and IPSL-CMA5-LR) and two contrasting emission pathways (RCPs 2.6 and 8.5) for historical (1950–2005) and future (2006–2100) periods. Standardized ecological indicators and biomasses of selected species groups are used to compare simulations. Results show how future ecological trajectories are sensitive to alternative configurations of EcoOcean, and yield moderate differences when looking at ecological indicators and larger differences for biomasses of species groups. Ecological trajectories are also sensitive to environmental drivers from alternative ESM outputs and RCPs, and show spatial variability and more severe changes when IPSL and RCP 8.5 are used. Under a non-fishing configuration, larger organisms show decreasing trends, while smaller organisms show mixed or increasing results. Fishing intensifies the negative effects predicted by climate change, again stronger under IPSL and RCP 8.5, which results in stronger biomass declines for species already losing under climate change, or dampened positive impacts for those increasing. Several species groups that win under climate change become losers under combined impacts, while only a few (small benthopelagic fish and cephalopods) species are projected to show positive biomass changes under cumulative impacts. EcoOcean v2 can contribute to the quantification of cumulative impact assessments of multiple stressors and of plausible ocean-based solutions to prevent, mitigate and adapt to global change.
Food for Thought
Knowledge mobilisation is required to “bridge the gap” between research, policy and practice. This activity is dependent on the amount, richness and quality of the data published. To understand the impact of a changing climate on commercial species, stakeholder communities require better knowledge of their past and current situations. The common cockle (Cerastoderma edule) is an excellent model species for this type of analysis, as it is well-studied due to its cultural, commercial and ecological significance in west Europe. Recently, C. edule harvests have decreased, coinciding with frequent mass mortalities, due to factors such as a changing climate and diseases. In this study, macro and micro level marine historical ecology techniques were used to create datasets on topics including: cockle abundance, spawning duration and harvest levels, as well as the ecological factors impacting those cockle populations. These data were correlated with changing climate and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) index to assess if they are drivers of cockle abundance and harvesting. The analyses identified the key stakeholder communities involved in cockle research and data acquisition. It highlighted that data collection was sporadic and lacking in cross-national/stakeholder community coordination. A major finding was that local variability in cockle populations is influenced by biotic (parasites) and abiotic (temperature, legislation and harvesting) factors, and at a global scale by climate (AMO Index). This comprehensive study provided an insight into the European cockle fishery but also highlights the need to identify the type of data required, the importance of standardised monitoring, and dissemination efforts, taking into account the knowledge, source, and audience. These factors are key elements that will be highly beneficial not only to the cockle stakeholder communities but to other commercial species.
Ecological indicator approaches typically compare the prevailing state of an ecosystem component to a reference state reflecting good environmental conditions, i.e. the desirable state. However, defining the reference state is challenging due to a wide range of uncertainties related to natural variability and measurement error in data, as well as ecological understanding. This study propose a novel probabilistic approach combining historical monitoring data and ecological understanding to estimate the uncertainty associated with the boundary value of an ecological indicator between good and poor environmental states. Bayesian inference is used to estimate the epistemic uncertainty about the true state of an indicator variable during an historical reference period. This approach replaces the traditional boundary value with probability distribution, indicating the uncertainty about the boundary between environmental states providing a transparent safety margin associated with the risk of misclassification of the indicator’s state. The approach is demonstrated by applying it to a time-series of an ecological status indicator, ‘Abundance of coastal key fish species’, included in HELCOM’s Baltic Sea regional status assessment. We suggest that acknowledgement of the uncertainty behind the final classification leads to more transparent and better-informed decision-making processes.
Pressure in academia and science is rapidly increasing and early career researchers (ECRs) have a lot to gain from being involved in research initiatives such as large international projects. But just how inclusive are they? Here we discuss experiences of ECRs directly involved in the Marine Ecosystem Assessment for the Southern Ocean (MEASO), an Australian led international research project to assess the status and trends of Southern Ocean ecosystems. We review the benefits of ECR involvement in large-scale initiatives to the project deliverables, the leadership team and ECRs themselves. Using insights from MEASO, we outline the obstacles that may become barriers to ECRs in scientific research in general but with a focus on large-scale research projects and suggest potential actions to overcome these at the individual, institutional and scientific community level. We consider the potential for ECRs to lead future Antarctic science programmes with a focus on science communication and applied research for policy makers within a global setting.
Identifying sources of variability in public perceptions and attitudes toward sharks can assist managers and conservationists with developing effective strategies to raise awareness and support for the conservation of threatened shark species. This study examined the effect of several demographic, economic and socioenvironmental factors on the quality of knowledge about and perceptions toward sharks in two contrasting scenarios from northeastern Brazil: a shark hazardous coastal region and a marine protected insular area. Ordered logistic regression models were built using Likert data collected with a self-administered questionnaire survey (N = 1094). A clear relationship between education, knowledge and perceptions was found, with low education level and knowledge of sharks resulting in more negative perceptions toward these species. Prejudice toward sharks stemmed as a potentially limiting factor because the positive effects of other variables such as affinity for nature and specific knowledge about sharks were superseded by the effects of negative prejudice. Other practical factors such as age, economic level, and gender, also influenced respondent’s knowledge and perceptions and could provide a guidance for optimizing socioenvironmental gains relative to public engagement efforts. Results also suggested that populations inhabiting regions with high shark bite incidence likely require distinct outreach methods because some factors underlying knowledge and perception dynamics exhibited structural differences in their effects when compared to the trends observed in a marine protected area. Altogether, public perceptions and attitudes toward sharks could be feasibly enhanced with educational development and nature experiencing strategies. Moreover, disseminating shark-specific knowledge across the society might catalyze support for the conservation of these species in a cost-effective way. This study provides a potentially useful socioenvironmental framework to deal with the human dimensions of shark management and to strengthen conservation policies aimed at promoting societal compliance with pro-environmental values, which is crucial to endow shark populations with effective protection from anthropogenic threats.
In order to advance ongoing efforts in the (still emerging) field of marine restoration, different forms of knowledge must be combined: not only the biological and technical aspects, but also the social and cultural dimensions of marine restoration efforts. This calls for a newly combined array of methods that allows for a bridging of these different knowledge dimensions. Drawing on our experiences from the ongoing knowledge transfer processes of the INTERNAS project (Scientific Transfer of the results of INTERNational Assessments in the field of Earth and Environmental Research into the German policy context), we provide an overview of methods that were used to link global recommendations with localized marine restoration schemes and policy options. Using a mixed methods approach, we were able to capture and understand the pathways of knowledge transfer from globally synthesized scientific knowledge to local realities related to protecting and enhancing marine biodiversity in Germany. With this structured knowledge transfer approach, actionable solutions for marine conservation and restoration activities could be tailored to the specific national and regional circumstances. Using participatory methods, framework conditions like ecological, social, legal, and sectoral value judgment dimensions can be identified. This allows for the development of concerted solutions and creates a common ground for good governance towards marine restoration. When scientists engage not only as experts but also as reflexive facilitators in such participatory processes, it is ensured that more inclusive forms of knowledge are fostered that are necessary to better anticipate the potentials and likely pitfalls that marine restoration efforts may encounter. We conclude that existing knowledge on ecosystems, their goods and services as well as societal expectations need to be understood from the onset in any kind of marine restoration effort.
Open Science is an umbrella term encompassing multiple concepts as open access to publications, open data, open education and citizen science that aim to make science more open and transparent. Citizen science, an important facet of Open Science, actively involves non-scientists in the research process, and can potentially be beneficial for multiple actors, such as scientists, citizens, policymakers and society in general. However, the reasons that motivate different segments of the public to participate in research are still understudied. Therefore, based on data gathered from a survey conducted in Czechia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the UK (N = 5,870), this study explores five types of incentives that can motivate individuals to become involved in life sciences research. The results demonstrate that men and younger individuals are more persuaded by extrinsic motives (external benefits or rewards), as compared with women and older people, who are driven by intrinsic motives (that originates from within an individual). This paper shows that specific strata of the population are differentially motivated to engage in research, thereby providing relevant knowledge for effectively designing public involvement activities that target various groups of the public in research projects.
When states legalised the maritime domain in the 20th century, the relationship between states and maritime space changed. Since the turn of the millennium, certain global trends have further amplified the role of the oceans in international affairs. This has led to a renewed focus on maritime space, as well as states' rights and responsibilities within this domain, delineated through the concept of a ‘boundary’ at sea. What, in essence, is a maritime boundary? Why do states end up disputing them? Perhaps more important, how do states go about settling such disputes, and how can we better understand the development of the legal and political principles that frame such endeavours? These are the questions examined in this article, which sets out to examine the concept of maritime boundaries and related disputes. Leaning on political science, international law and political geography, it reviews how the idea of a maritime boundary came about; what principles govern how they are drawn; how they at times are resolved; and possible future trends that might impact boundary-making at sea.
A critical component of textbooks is fair representation of the material they cover. Within conservation biology, fair coverage is particularly important given Earth’s breadth of species and diversity of ecosystems. However, research on species tends to be biased towards certain taxonomic groups and geographic areas and their associated ecosystems, so it is possible that textbooks may exhibit similar biases. Considering the possibility of bias, our goal was to evaluate contemporary conservation biology textbooks to determine if they are representative of Earth’s biodiversity. We found that textbooks did not accurately reflect Earth’s biodiversity. Species, ecosystems, and continents were unevenly represented, few examples mentioned genetic diversity, and examples of negative human influence on the environment outweighed positive examples. However, in terms of aquatic versus terrestrial representation, textbooks presented a representative sample. Our findings suggest that modern conservation biology textbooks are biased in their coverage, which could have important consequences for educating our next generation of scientists and practitioners.
E-science technologies have significantly increased the availability of data. Research grant providers such as the European Union increasingly require open access publishing of research results and data. However, despite its significance to research, the adoption rate of open data technology remains low across all disciplines, especially in Europe where research has primarily focused on technical solutions (such as Zenodo or the Open Science Framework) or considered only parts of the issue.
Methods and findings
In this study, we emphasized the non-technical factors perceived value and uncertainty factors in the context of academia, which impact researchers’ acceptance of open data–the idea that researchers should not only publish their findings in the form of articles or reports, but also share the corresponding raw data sets. We present the results of a broad quantitative analysis including N = 995 researchers from 13 large to medium-sized universities in Germany. In order to test 11 hypotheses regarding researchers’ intentions to share their data, as well as detect any hierarchical or disciplinary differences, we employed a structured equation model (SEM) following the partial least squares (PLS) modeling approach.
Grounded in the value-based theory, this article proclaims that most individuals in academia embrace open data when the perceived advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Furthermore, uncertainty factors impact the perceived value (consisting of the perceived advantages and disadvantages) of sharing research data. We found that researchers’ assumptions about effort required during the data preparation process were diminished by awareness of e-science technologies (such as Zenodo or the Open Science Framework), which also increased their tendency to perceive personal benefits via data exchange. Uncertainty factors seem to influence the intention to share data. Effects differ between disciplines and hierarchical levels.