Conserving Biodiversity in a Human-Dominated World: Degradation of Marine Sessile Communities within a Protected Area with Conflicting Human Uses

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From PLOS ONE comes, Conserving Biodiversity in a Human-Dominated World: Degradation of Marine Sessile Communities within a Protected Area with Conflicting Human Uses, which exemplifies how anthropogenic pressures from expanding human uses can affect MPAs. You may download the full-text PDF for free via the link below.

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Table of Contents

Journal Articles

Free: Conserving Biodiversity in a Human-Dominated World: Degradation of Marine Sessile Communities within a Protected Area with Conflicting Human Uses. Parravicini V, Micheli F, Montefalcone M, Morri C, Villa E, et al. (2013) PLoS ONE 8(10): e75767. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075767

Free: Ecoregion-Based Conservation Planning in the Mediterranean: Dealing with Large-Scale Heterogeneity. Giakoumi S, Sini M, Gerovasileiou V, Mazor T, Beher J, et al. (2013) PLoS ONE 8(10): e76449. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076449

Free: Coral Energy Reserves and Calcification in a High-CO2 World at Two Temperatures. Schoepf V, Grottoli AG, Warner ME, Cai W-J, Melman TF, et al. (2013) PLoS ONE 8(10): e75049. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075049

The potential of offshore windfarms to act as marine protected areas – A systematic review of current evidence. M.C. Ashley, S.C. Mangi, L.D. Rodwell. Marine Policy, Available online 15 October 2013.

Effective fishing effort indicators and their application to spatial management of mixed demersal fisheries. A. N. Tidd. Fisheries Management and Ecology; Volume 20, Issue 5, pages 377–389, October 2013; DOI: 10.1111/fme.12021

Accurate assessment of marine protected area success depends on metric and spatiotemporal scale of monitoring. Moffitt EA, White JW, Botsford LW (2013) Mar Ecol Prog Ser 489:17-28.

Social impacts of a temperate fisheries closure: understanding stakeholders' views. C.E. Hattam, S.C. Mangi, S.C. Gall, L.D. Rodwell. Marine Policy, Available online 9 October 2013.

Combining human preference and biodiversity priorities for marine protected area site selection in Sabah, Malaysia. Lydia C.L. Teh, Louise S.L. Teh, Robecca Jumin. Biological Conservation, Volume 167, November 2013, Pages 396–404.

Integrating local knowledge and perception for assessing vulnerability to climate change in economically dynamic coastal areas: The case of natural protected area Aiguamolls de l'Empordà, Spain. Sandra Fatorić, Ricard Morén-Alegret. Ocean & Coastal Management, Available online 7 October 2013.

Fisheries co-management in a new era of marine policy in the UK: A preliminary assessment of stakeholder perceptions. Lynda D. Rodwell, Jason Lowther, Charlotte Hunter, Stephen C. Mangi. Marine Policy, Available online 5 October 2013.

Marine and coastal policy in the UK: Challenges and opportunities in a new era. L.D. Rodwell, S. Fletcher, G.A. Glegg, M. Campbell, S.E Rees, M. Ashley, E.A. Linley, M. Frost, B. Earll, R.B. Wynn, L. Mee, P. Almada-Villela, D. Lear, P. Stanger, A. Colenutt, F. Davenport, N.J. Barker Bradshaw, R. Covey. Marine Policy, Available online 5 October 2013.

Issues and challenges in spatio-temporal application of an ecosystem services framework to UK seas. Steve Hull, Ian Dickie, Rob Tinch, Justine Saunders. Marine Policy, Available online 4 October 2013.

Reef fish display station-keeping and ranging behaviour in the Pondoland Marine Protected Area on the east coast of South Africa. JQ Maggs, BQ Mann & PD Cowley. African Journal of Marine Science; Volume 35, Issue 2, 2013; DOI: 10.2989/1814232X.2013.798152.

Newsletters

Free: Department of the Interior's Newswave: Summer/Fall 2013


Conserving Biodiversity in a Human-Dominated World: Degradation of Marine Sessile Communities within a Protected Area with Conflicting Human Uses

Conservation research aims at understanding whether present protection schemes are adequate for the maintenance of ecosystems structure and function across time. We evaluated long-term variation in rocky reef communities by comparing sites surveyed in 1993 and again in 2008. This research took place in Tigullio Gulf, an emblematic case study where various conservation measures, including a marine protected area, have been implemented to manage multiple human uses. Contrary to our prediction that protection should have favored ecosystem stability, we found that communities subjected to conservation measures (especially within the marine protected area) exhibited the greatest variation toward architectural complexity loss. Between 1993 and 2008, chronic anthropogenic pressures (especially organic load) that had already altered unprotected sites in 1993 expanded their influence into protected areas. This expansion of human pressure likely explains our observed changes in the benthic communities. Our results suggest that adaptive ecosystem-based management (EBM), that is management taking into account human interactions, informed by continuous monitoring, is needed in order to attempt reversing the current trend towards less architecturally complex communities. Protected areas are not sufficient to stop ecosystem alteration by pressures coming from outside. Monitoring, and consequent management actions, should therefore extend to cover the relevant scales of those pressures.


Ecoregion-Based Conservation Planning in the Mediterranean: Dealing with Large-Scale Heterogeneity

Spatial priorities for the conservation of three key Mediterranean habitats, i.e. seagrass Posidonia oceanica meadows, coralligenous formations, and marine caves, were determined through a systematic planning approach. Available information on the distribution of these habitats across the entire Mediterranean Sea was compiled to produce basin-scale distribution maps. Conservation targets for each habitat type were set according to European Union guidelines. Surrogates were used to estimate the spatial variation of opportunity cost for commercial, non-commercial fishing, and aquaculture. Marxan conservation planning software was used to evaluate the comparative utility of two planning scenarios: (a) a whole-basin scenario, referring to selection of priority areas across the whole Mediterranean Sea, and (b) an ecoregional scenario, in which priority areas were selected within eight predefined ecoregions. Although both scenarios required approximately the same total area to be protected in order to achieve conservation targets, the opportunity cost differed between them. The whole-basin scenario yielded a lower opportunity cost, but the Alboran Sea ecoregion was not represented and priority areas were predominantly located in the Ionian, Aegean, and Adriatic Seas. In comparison, the ecoregional scenario resulted in a higher representation of ecoregions and a more even distribution of priority areas, albeit with a higher opportunity cost. We suggest that planning at the ecoregional level ensures better representativeness of the selected conservation features and adequate protection of species, functional, and genetic diversity across the basin. While there are several initiatives that identify priority areas in the Mediterranean Sea, our approach is novel as it combines three issues: (a) it is based on the distribution of habitats and not species, which was rarely the case in previous efforts, (b) it considers spatial variability of cost throughout this socioeconomically heterogeneous basin, and (c) it adopts ecoregions as the most appropriate level for large-scale planning.


Coral Energy Reserves and Calcification in a High-CO2 World at Two Temperatures

Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations threaten coral reefs globally by causing ocean acidification (OA) and warming. Yet, the combined effects of elevated pCO2 and temperature on coral physiology and resilience remain poorly understood. While coral calcification and energy reserves are important health indicators, no studies to date have measured energy reserve pools (i.e., lipid, protein, and carbohydrate) together with calcification under OA conditions under different temperature scenarios. Four coral species, Acropora millepora, Montipora monasteriata, Pocillopora damicornis, Turbinaria reniformis, were reared under a total of six conditions for 3.5 weeks, representing three pCO2 levels (382, 607, 741 µatm), and two temperature regimes (26.5, 29.0°C) within each pCO2 level. After one month under experimental conditions, only A. millepora decreased calcification (−53%) in response to seawater pCO2 expected by the end of this century, whereas the other three species maintained calcification rates even when both pCO2 and temperature were elevated. Coral energy reserves showed mixed responses to elevated pCO2 and temperature, and were either unaffected or displayed nonlinear responses with both the lowest and highest concentrations often observed at the mid-pCO2 level of 607 µatm. Biweekly feeding may have helped corals maintain calcification rates and energy reserves under these conditions. Temperature often modulated the response of many aspects of coral physiology to OA, and both mitigated and worsened pCO2 effects. This demonstrates for the first time that coral energy reserves are generally not metabolized to sustain calcification under OA, which has important implications for coral health and bleaching resilience in a high-CO2 world. Overall, these findings suggest that some corals could be more resistant to simultaneously warming and acidifying oceans than previously expected.


The potential of offshore windfarms to act as marine protected areas – A systematic review of current evidence

As offshore windfarm (OWF) construction in the UK is progressing rapidly, monitoring of the economic and ecological effects of these developments is urgently needed. This is to enable both spatial planning and where necessary mitigation in an increasingly crowded marine environment. One approach to mitigation is co-location of OWFs and marine protected areas (MPAs). This systematic review has the objective to inform this co-location proposal and identify areas requiring further research. A limited number of studies addressing marine renewable energy structures and related artificial structures in coastal waters were found. The results of these studies display a change in species assemblages at artificial structures in comparison to naturally occurring habitats. An increase in hard substrata associated species, especially benthic bivalves, crustaceans and reef associated fish and a decrease in algae abundance were the dominant trends. Assemblages associated with complex concrete structures revealed greater similarity to natural hard substrata compared to those around steel structures. To consider marine renewable energy sites, especially large scale OWFs as MPAs, the dissimilar nature of assemblages on the structures themselves to natural communities should be considered. However positive effects were recorded on the abundance of commercially important crustacean species. This suggests potential for incorporation of OWFs as no fishing, or restricted activity zones within a wider MPA to aid fisheries augmentation. The limited available evidence highlights a requirement for significant further research involving long term monitoring at a variety of sites to better inform management options.


Effective fishing effort indicators and their application to spatial management of mixed demersal fisheries

Since the Common Fisheries Policy reform in 2002, there have been various proposals for designing effective input-management tools in the context of demersal multispecies and multimétier fisheries to augment quota management. The relationship between fishing mortality and effort exerted by the English beam trawl fleet is investigated for two stocks of North Sea demersal fish, plaice, Pleuronectes platessa L., and sole, Solea solea (L.). Catchability was adjusted by accounting for targeting by this gear, seasonal and area effects, and individual vessel variation, using results from a generalised linear mixed-effects model (GLMM) that included random effects (in this case, vessel). Descriptors were standardised in relation to distinct submétiers and their impact on both species. Fishing efficiency was calculated as the ratio between relative nominal landings per unit effort derived from the GLMM and survey indices from a standard survey vessel. Fishing efficiency for sole increased (+0.6% annually) and for plaice decreased (−6.2%), likely because of changes in targeting, fuel costs and regulations.


Accurate assessment of marine protected area success depends on metric and spatiotemporal scale of monitoring

Marine protected areas are being monitored to determine whether they increase abundance of fished populations, with responses often expected within a few years. Evaluations typically compare abundance inside versus outside or after versus before implementation, but the temporal and spatial scales over which these measures can reflect marine protected area success are untested. We modeled the response of fished populations for a range of marine protected area sizes, fishing intensities, larval dispersal distances, and adult movement ranges. Our results, which can inform experimental design and interpretation of monitoring, show that the spatial and temporal scale of population responses to marine protected areas will be determined by simple relationships between marine protected area size, larval and adult movement distances, and generation time, in addition to the effects of exploitation rate. The largest effects of marine protected areas should be expected with ‘outside’ samples located at least 2 dispersal units from the edge, and after 2 generations have passed since establishment. In general, monitoring studies over time (after versus before) should provide better assessment of marine protected area success than monitoring over space (inside versus outside), but understanding of the limitations of each type of measurement is key. Because it may take many years for marine protected area effects to be fully realized, we strongly caution against judgment of marine protected area effectiveness at inappropriately short time frames.


Social impacts of a temperate fisheries closure: understanding stakeholders' views

The social dimensions of marine protected areas (MPAs) play an important role in MPA success, yet these social dimensions are little understood. We explore the social impacts arising from the establishment of an MPA using Lyme Bay (south west England) as a case study. Through a series of small group semi-structured interviews the social impacts experienced by fishermen (mobile and static gear), recreational users (divers and sea anglers) and recreation service providers (charter boat and dive businesses) were explored. The social impacts expressed varied according to activity in which the stakeholder group engaged. Negative themes included lengthening fishing trips, tension and conflict, fishermen identity, equity and uncertainty in the long-term. Positive themes included improved experiences for both commercial fishermen and recreational users, and expectations for long-term benefits. These impacts need to be understood because they influence stakeholder behaviour. Failure to interpret stakeholder responses may lead to poor decision-making and worsening stakeholder relations. These findings have implications for the success of the MPA in Lyme Bay, but also for the future network of marine conservation zones around the UK. Any assessment of MPA impacts must therefore identify social as well as economic and environmental change.


Combining human preference and biodiversity priorities for marine protected area site selection in Sabah, Malaysia

High human reliance on marine resources in developing countries is a challenge for implementing marine protected areas, which usually seek to limit or restrict fishing in selected areas. Fishers’ spatial preferences should be considered during the site selection process, but biodiversity considerations are generally the primary focus. The Protected Area Suitability Index (PASI) is a fuzzy logic spatial planning tool that combines human preferences and conservation criteria to assess the suitability of marine sites for being protected from fishing and other extractive use. We apply the PASI in zoning a marine sanctuary in Sabah, Malaysia, with the objectives of (i) assessing the PASI’s ability to capture fishers’ spatial preferences; and (ii) comparing the nuances of community based and fuzzy logic approaches in spatial planning. There was overlap in sites chosen for protection by both approaches, and multi-dimensional scaling results suggest that the PASI captures fishers’ preferences. Community consultations enable direct integration of local knowledge to fill gaps in scientific knowledge, but can be time consuming and expensive. The PASI is an alternative to data and labour intensive conservation planning tools that are currently available, and can be particularly useful for zoning marine protected areas in data poor developing countries where conservation requires quick action.


Integrating local knowledge and perception for assessing vulnerability to climate change in economically dynamic coastal areas: The case of natural protected area Aiguamolls de l'Empordà, Spain

Climate change seems likely that will greatly affect natural protected areas and other vulnerable areas such as Mediterranean. Thus Aiguamolls de l'Empordà can be regarded as a key case study to assess current knowledge and perceptions of the potential climate change effects on the coastal population and economies in the Spanish Mediterranean region.

This study finds out that it is essential to gather and integrate local traditional knowledge with scientific knowledge in order to develop successful responses to climate change. Furthermore, it supports the position that vulnerability analysis must be participatory and must include social, cultural, environmental, economic and political dimensions, like it was the case in this research.

According to the quantitative and qualitative data gathered, major climate change effects such as increase in air temperature over the past few decades, a decrease in precipitation but increase in its intensity, the increase in the severity of droughts, and the decrease in biodiversity and ecosystem services are the most pressing climate change effects and serious threats to the observed area. In addition to this, the location of the coastal municipalities (their exposure) also makes them directly vulnerable to coastal erosion, saltwater intrusion and sea level rise. Stakeholders also found that climate change adaptation is needed and this finding may suggest that even if cost of adaptation is high, further losses to the economy and ecosystems might be even higher.


Fisheries co-management in a new era of marine policy in the UK: A preliminary assessment of stakeholder perceptions

Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) were established in England after the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 became operational in April 2011. The IFCAs represent a co-management system which prioritises both conservation and fisheries objectives and broadens the interest groups involved in regulatory decision-making in inshore fisheries. The establishment of the IFCAs is intended to facilitate a true ecosystem approach to marine management, contribute to a more contemporary, open and inclusive governance model and move towards the ultimate goal of sustainable fisheries. The aim of this paper is to give a preliminary assessment of the perceptions of IFCA members of their role in relation to a number of IFCA criteria. Forty IFCA members responded to an online questionnaire. Four IFCA Chief Officers then commented on members' views in a second questionnaire. Findings suggest that despite the diversity of views of members the IFCA goals are commonly agreed. ‘Conservation of marine ecosystems for (direct) economic purposes’ and ‘Sustaining and improving fisheries productivity’ are given as the top two priorities receiving 77.5% and 67.5% of the possible vote respectively. ‘Ensuring effective fisheries enforcement’ and ‘conservation of marine ecosystems for non-economic purposes’ followed jointly receiving 47.5% of possible vote. There is a wide concern amongst members, however, that the resources of the IFCA are inadequate to meet all goals. Managing members' expectations will be essential in early years of the IFCAs in order that realistic management objectives can be met. Members identified a need for improved communication and education regarding both fisheries and environmental issues to ensure better informed decision making. IFCAs appear to have many of the attributes needed for successful co-management though continued monitoring of IFCA performance is required. The paper reflects on the wider global context, noting that improving fisheries sustainability to any significant degree requires concerted effort in regional policy making.


Marine and coastal policy in the UK: Challenges and opportunities in a new era

Marine and coastal policy in the UK has faced a number of significant changes in recent years, most notably the passing of the Marine and Coastal Access Act in 2009. These changes have brought significant challenges and opportunities for all those involved in the management and use of the UK's marine and coastal environment. This new era of marine policy inspired the UK's first Marine and Coastal Policy forum held in June 2011. In this introductory paper the global context of marine policy changes and the themes which emerged from the forum, forming the basis of the articles in this special issue, are outlined. It is concluded that there is a high level of engagement, capacity and willingness of key stakeholders to work collaboratively to address the environmental, social and economic complexities of managing the marine and coastal environment. It is both evident and encouraging that progress is being made and the many challenges faced in this new era give rise to a number of opportunities to develop new ideas and effective mechanisms for finding solutions.


Issues and challenges in spatio-temporal application of an ecosystem services framework to UK seas

The concepts of ecosystem services and human welfare provide strong integrative frameworks that can be used to inform marine policy and management decisions that support sustainable development. A theoretical framework has been developed and applied to create a model for UK seas to measure changes in final ecosystem services, in terms of human welfare. The model that has been developed is explicitly spatial and temporal to facilitate its use in supporting marine planning decisions. The development and application of this framework to UK seas necessarily requires many assumptions to be made. The paper describes the development and population of the framework and discusses the practical limitations and challenges in seeking to develop and apply such models. Significant differences in long-term values of different services were identified under the different scenarios. All scenarios highlight the projected decline in oil and gas revenues which provide particular intense values at sites of extraction. These values are partially replaced by revenues from offshore renewables in some of the scenarios. Values associated with carbon sequestration, maritime transport, tourism and pollution assimilation are also very significant but more spatially diffuse. The study has demonstrated that it is possible to develop spatio-temporal models to evaluate changes in final ecosystem service benefits using existing data, although the approach necessarily requires many assumptions to be made.


Reef fish display station-keeping and ranging behaviour in the Pondoland Marine Protected Area on the east coast of South Africa

This study assessed the role of the Pondoland Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa by evaluating retention versus ‘spillover’ of exploited fishery species that were tagged in a 400 km2 no-take zone of the MPA. From April 2006 to July 2010, 2 124 fish comprising 36 species were tagged in the MPA, with an overall recapture rate of 23%. Findings for four important species (Polysteganus praeorbitalis, Chrysoblephus puniceus, Epinephelus andersoni and Epinephelus marginatus) are presented. Recapture rates ranged from 8% to 60% and time-at-liberty from 0 to 1 390 d. Individuals of all four species displayed highly localised station-keeping behaviour. For all four species, the 95th percentile of intra-study site movements was <750 m (linear distance) and many recaptures were within 250 m of the release site, showing that some fish spend most of their time in the MPA's no-take zone. However, some fish moved beyond the boundary of this zone in a north-easterly direction (range 3–1 059 km), where they would be available to the boat-based fishery in KwaZulu-Natal. The combination of resident individuals with some with ranging behaviour suggests that the MPA can provide a conservation role for these species, while exporting some individuals into nearby fisheries.


Department of the Interior's Newswave: Summer/Fall 2013

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