Coastal Blue Carbon: methods for assessing carbon stocks and emissions factors in mangroves, tidal salt marshes, and seagrass meadows

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For the week of 3 November 2014

Greetings OpenChannels Community Members,

CI, UNESCO's IOC, and IUCN have published a new report, Coastal Blue Carbon: methods for assessing carbon stocks and emissions factors in mangroves, tidal salt marshes, and seagrass meadows. "The manual outlines the rationale and project design for measuring blue carbon in the field and approaches for data analysis and reporting. Effort was made to ensure consistency with international standards, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines, and other relevant sourcebooks." You may download it using the link below.

Happy reading!
-Nick Wehner, OpenChannels Project Manager


Table of Contents

Blue Carbon

Free: Coastal Blue Carbon: methods for assessing carbon stocks and emissions factors in mangroves, tidal salt marshes, and seagrass meadows. 180 (Conservation International, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2014).

Case Studies

Stoeckl, N. et al. A new approach to the problem of overlapping values: A case study in Australia׳s Great Barrier Reef. Ecosystem Services 10, 61 - 78 (2014).

Portman, M. E. & Nathan, D. Conservation ‘Identity’ and Marine Protected Areas Management: A Mediterranean case study. Journal for Nature Conservation (In Press).

Colléter, M. et al. Fishing inside or outside? A case studies analysis of potential spillover effect from marine protected areas, using food web models. Journal of Marine Systems 139, 383 - 395 (2014).

Climate Change and Human Impacts

Tait, J., Ferrand, E. Observations of the Influence of Regional Beach Dynamics on the Impacts of Storm Waves on the Connecticut Coast During Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. In: Learning from the Impacts of Superstorm Sandy. Learning from the Impacts of Superstorm Sandy. Elsevier; 2015. pp. 69 - 88.

Free: Ahtiainen, H., Artell, J., Elmgren, R., Hasselström, L. & Håkansson, C. Baltic Sea nutrient reductions – What should we aim for? Journal of Environmental Management 145, 9 - 23 (2014).

Community perceptions and attitudes

Kusumawati, I. & Huang, H-W. Key factors for successful management of marine protected areas: A comparison of stakeholders' perception of two MPAs in Weh island, Sabang, Aceh, Indonesia. Marine Policy 51, 465 - 475 (2015).

Free: Ahtiainen, H., Artell, J. , Elmgren, R. , Hasselström, L. & Håkansson, C. Baltic Sea nutrient reductions – What should we aim for? Journal of Environmental Management 145, 9 - 23 (2014).

Barr, R. F. & Mourato, S. Investigating fishers' preferences for the design of marine Payments for Environmental Services schemes. Ecological Economics 108, 91 - 103 (2014).

Economics

Le Gentil, E. & Mongruel, R. A systematic review of socio-economic assessments in support of coastal zone management (1992–2011). Journal of Environmental Management 149, 85 - 96 (2015).

Ecosystem Services and Uses

Barr, R. F. & Mourato, S. Investigating fishers' preferences for the design of marine Payments for Environmental Services schemes. Ecological Economics 108, 91 - 103 (2014).

Stoeckl, N. et al. A new approach to the problem of overlapping values: A case study in Australia׳s Great Barrier Reef. Ecosystem Services 10, 61 - 78 (2014).

Hattam, C. et al. Marine ecosystem services: Linking indicators to their classification. Ecological Indicators 49, 61 - 75 (2015).

Fisheries

Shepperson, J., Murray, L. G., Cook, S., Whiteley, H. & Kaiser, M. J. Methodological considerations when using local knowledge to infer spatial patterns of resource exploitation in an Irish Sea fishery. Biological Conservation 180, 214 - 223 (2014).

Fisheries management

Schärer-Umpierre M. T., Mateos-Molina D., Appeldoorn R., Bejarano I., Harnández-Delgado E. A., Nemeth R. S., Nemeth M. I., Valdés-Pizzini M., Smith T.B. Marine Managed Areas and Associated Fisheries in the US Caribbean. In: Advances in Marine Biology. Vol. 69. Advances in Marine Biology. Elsevier; 2014. pp. 129 - 152.

Food for Thought

Zolnai, A. Map stories can provide dynamic visualizations of the Anthropocene to broaden factually based public understanding. The Anthropocene Review 1, 243 - 251 (2014).

Local or traditional knowledge

Shepperson, J., Murray, L. G., Cook, S., Whiteley, H. & Kaiser, M. J. Methodological considerations when using local knowledge to infer spatial patterns of resource exploitation in an Irish Sea fishery. Biological Conservation 180, 214 - 223 (2014).

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

Free: Gilby, B. L. & Stevens, T. Meta-analysis indicates habitat-specific alterations to primary producer and herbivore communities in marine protected areas. Global Ecology and Conservation (In Press).

Portman, M. E. & Nathan, D. Conservation ‘Identity’ and Marine Protected Areas Management: A Mediterranean case study. Journal for Nature Conservation (In Press).

Colléter, M. et al. Fishing inside or outside? A case studies analysis of potential spillover effect from marine protected areas, using food web models. Journal of Marine Systems 139, 383 - 395 (2014).

Kusumawati, I. & Huang, H-W. Key factors for successful management of marine protected areas: A comparison of stakeholders' perception of two MPAs in Weh island, Sabang, Aceh, Indonesia. Marine Policy 51, 465 - 475 (2015).

Free: Hill, N. A. et al. Quantifying Fish Assemblages in Large, Offshore Marine Protected Areas: An Australian Case Study. PLoS ONE 9, e110831 (2014).

Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)

Caldow, C. et al. Biogeographic assessments: A framework for information synthesis in marine spatial planning. Marine Policy 51, 423 - 432 (2015).

Ocean acidification

Free: An Updated Synthesis of the Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biodiversity. CBD Technical Series 99 (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2014).

Free: Frommel, A. Y. et al. Organ damage in Atlantic herring larvae as a result of ocean acidification. Ecological Applications 24, 1131 - 1143 (2014).

Software Tools

Free: Crist, P., Maybury, K., Carr, S. & Hak, J. Tools for Landscape-Level Assessment and Planning: A Guide for the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative. Ecosystem-Based Management Tools Network (NatureServe, 2014).

Free: Vitolo, C., Elkhatib, Y., Reusser, D., Macleod, C. J. A. & Buytaert, W. Web technologies for environmental Big Data. Environmental Modelling & Software 63, 185 - 198 (2015).

Spatial patterns of species

Free: Alvarez-Berastegui, D. et al. Spatial Scale, Means and Gradients of Hydrographic Variables Define Pelagic Seascapes of Bluefin and Bullet Tuna Spawning Distribution. PLoS ONE 9, e109338 (2014).

Shepperson, J., Murray, L. G., Cook, S., Whiteley, H. & Kaiser, M. J. Methodological considerations when using local knowledge to infer spatial patterns of resource exploitation in an Irish Sea fishery. Biological Conservation 180, 214 - 223 (2014).

Free: Hill, N. A. et al. Quantifying Fish Assemblages in Large, Offshore Marine Protected Areas: An Australian Case Study. PLoS ONE 9, e110831 (2014).

Valuation

Stoeckl, N. et al. A new approach to the problem of overlapping values: A case study in Australia׳s Great Barrier Reef. Ecosystem Services 10, 61 - 78 (2014).


Coastal Blue Carbon: methods for assessing carbon stocks and emissions factors in mangroves, tidal salt marshes, and seagrass meadows

The manual outlines the rationale and project design for measuring blue carbon in the field and approaches for data analysis and reporting. Effort was made to ensure consistency with international standards, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines, and other relevant sourcebooks.

The manual is structured as follows:

Chapter 1: Introduces the role of blue carbon in climate change mitigation and outlines the manual’s purpose and objectives;

Chapter 2: Outlines the main steps to prepare a robust field measurement plan;

Chapter 3: Provides protocols and guidance for measuring organic carbon stocks found in the soils of all three ecosystems;

Chapter 4: Provides protocols and guidance for measuring organic carbon stocks, found in above- and belowground biomass, with specific protocols designed for each ecosystem;

Chapter 5: Highlights methods for determining the changes in carbon stocks over time and monitoring greenhouse gas emissions;

Chapter 6: Gives an overview of remote sensing options and applications;

Chapter 7: Provides guidance on managing large data sets and data sharing; and

Appendices: T here are several appendices; they contain supplementary information, worked through examples, lists of equations, and more.


A new approach to the problem of overlapping values: A case study in Australia׳s Great Barrier Reef

Estimating the value of entire ecosystems in monetary units is difficult because they are complex systems composed of non-linear, interdependent components and the value of the services they produce are interdependent and overlapping. Using the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) as a case study, this paper explores a new ‘whole ecosystem’ approach to assessing both the importance (to overall quality of life) and the monetary value of various community-defined benefits, some of which align with various ecosystem services. We find that provisioning services are considered, by residents, to be less important to their overall quality of life than other ecosystem services. But our analysis suggests that many community-defined benefits are overlapping. Using statistical techniques to identify and control for these overlapping benefits, we estimate that the collective monetary value of a broad range of services provided by the GBR is likely to be between $15 billion and $20 billion AUS per annum. We acknowledge the limitations of our methods and estimates but show how they highlight the importance of the problem, and open up promising avenues for further research. With further refinement and development, radically different ‘whole ecosystem’ valuation approaches like these may eventually become viable alternatives to the more common additive approaches.


Conservation ‘Identity’ and Marine Protected Areas Management: A Mediterranean case study

Protection of natural environments sought through management plans varies greatly between countries; characterizing these differences and what motivates them can inform future regional and international conservation efforts. This research builds on previous work addressing the spatial distribution of marine protected areas in the Mediterranean Sea. Particularly, it examines the relationship between a “protection level” (PL) score and a set of variables pertaining to each country's conservation efforts, economic conditions, and human impact along the coast using regression analysis. Four sets of models demonstrated country characteristics that correlate with higher protection levels within marine protected areas (MPAs). Certain contextual factors - economic dependence on the marine environment, efforts at terrestrial conservation and greater human impact - were found to be significantly associated with higher PLs among the northern littoral countries of the Mediterranean. Such findings can inform policy makers about where efforts and investments should be directed for marine conservation.


Fishing inside or outside? A case studies analysis of potential spillover effect from marine protected areas, using food web models

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are implemented worldwide as an efficient tool to preserve biodiversity and protect ecosystems. We used food web models (Ecopath and EcoTroph) to assess the ability of MPAs to reduce fishing impacts on targeted resources and to provide biomass exports for adjacent fisheries. Three coastal MPAs: Bonifacio and Port-Cros (Mediterranean Sea), and Bamboung (Senegalese coast), were used as case studies. Pre-existing related Ecopath models were homogenized and ecosystem characteristics were compared based on network indices and trophic spectra analyses. Using the EcoTroph model, we simulated different fishing mortality scenarios and assessed fishing impacts on the three ecosystems. Lastly, the potential biomass that could be exported from each MPA was estimated. Despite structural and functional trophic differences, the three MPAs showed similar patterns of resistance to simulated fishing mortalities, with the Bonifacio case study exhibiting the highest potential catches and a slightly inferior resistance to fishing. We also show that the potential exports from our small size MPAs are limited and thus may only benefit local fishing activities. Based on simulations, their potential exports were estimated to be at the same order of magnitude as the amount of catch that could have been obtained inside the reserve. In Port Cros, the ban of fishing inside MPA could actually allow for improved catch yields outside the MPA due to biomass exports. This was not the case for the Bonifacio site, as its potential exports were too low to offset catch losses. This insight suggests the need for MPA networks and/or sufficiently large MPAs to effectively protect juveniles and adults and provide important exports. Finally, we discuss the effects of MPAs on fisheries that were not considered in food web models, and conclude by suggesting possible improvements in the analysis of MPA efficiency.


Observations of the Influence of Regional Beach Dynamics on the Impacts of Storm Waves on the Connecticut Coast During Hurricanes Irene and Sandy

The Connecticut shoreline is one of the most intensively developed in the country. In many locations, development has relied on the buffering capacity of broad beaches for protection against storms. Much of this development is at risk due to an insufficient understanding of regional beach dynamics. The coast is commonly regarded as “protected” by the presence of Long Island. Nonetheless, Irene and Sandy imposed significant property losses on coastal cities. The most severe damages were due to wave impact in areas with narrow beaches. Small differences (as little as 21 m) in beach width proved to be significant during these storms. Sheltering by Long Island does not prevent coastal erosion during local storms. In the long run, it does prevent the rebuilding of the beach during fair weather by limiting the energy available for shoreward transport. This dynamic makes the beaches naturally erosive and their buffering capacity transient at best.


Baltic Sea nutrient reductions – What should we aim for?

Nutrient load reductions are needed to improve the state of the Baltic Sea, but it is still under debate how they should be implemented. In this paper, we use data from an environmental valuation study conducted in all nine Baltic Sea states to investigate public preferences of relevance to three of the involved decision-dimensions: First, the roles of nitrogen versus phosphorus reductions causing different eutrophication effects; second, the role of time – the lag between actions to reduce nutrient loads and perceived improvements; and third; the spatial dimension and the roles of actions targeting the coastal and open sea environment and different sub-basins. Our findings indicate that respondents view and value the Baltic Sea environment as a whole, and are not focussed only on their local sea area, or a particular aspect of water quality. We argue that public preferences concerning these three perspectives should be one of the factors guiding marine policy. This requires considering the entire range of eutrophication effects, in coastal and open sea areas, and including long-term and short-term measures.


Key factors for successful management of marine protected areas: A comparison of stakeholders' perception of two MPAs in Weh island, Sabang, Aceh, Indonesia

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been established over the world to protect marine resources from over-exploitation. Weh Island, Sabang, Indonesia, has two MPAs: Weh Island Marine Recreational Park (WMRP) and Weh Island Marine Protected Area (WMPA). The WMRP was established by the Government of Indonesia in 1982 and is managed by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency in the Ministry of Forestry. The other, WMPA, was established in 2010 and is managed by the Government of Sabang׳s Marine Affairs and Fisheries Agency. First, this study reviews the regulations of the two MPAs. There are 17 regulations related to the management of the two MPAs. WMRP is governed centrally based on Law No. 32, and the WMPA has shifted to a bottom-up system based on Fisheries Law No. 31. In addition, the customary management system called Panglima Laot, which literally translates to “Sea Commander” functions for local residents. Second, 185 questionnaires were completed by government offices, non-governmental organizations, fishermen, and marine tourism operators from January to September 2013. The survey showed all respondents support the development of MPAs. More respondents in the WMPA are familiar with the MPA and received benefits from MPAs. Fishermen of the WMRP considered their participation to be low and have lower trust in the government. The participants in the WMRP considered that “support of all stakeholders׳ awareness of the marine environment” is most important. On the other hand, “improved understanding of benefits from MPAs” was an influential factor in the WMPA. To further strengthen the management of MPAs, the stakeholders should work together to apply a bottom-up management system, clarify the zoning, set educational programs to inform public perceptions, ensure enforcement capacity, conduct scientific research on the resource, and develop a network of MPAs in the long term.


Investigating fishers' preferences for the design of marine Payments for Environmental Services schemes

We determine the effects of various management restrictions on adoption rates of marine Payments for Environmental Services (PES) schemes. Choice experiments are used in order to determine how fisher participation rates change under different marine PES programme designs. Various designs, with differing restriction rates, show different rates of adoption. However, fishers show a high utility loss associated with any move away from the current management situation, irrespective of restriction levels. This indicates that PES scheme costs may be high and creating an enabling environment could be important to reducing perceived losses, as could investment into conditional in-kind compensation mechanisms. The paper also shows choice experiments to be a useful tool in marine PES design.


A systematic review of socio-economic assessments in support of coastal zone management (1992–2011)

Cooperation between the social and natural sciences has become essential in order to encompass all the dimensions of coastal zone management. Socio-economic approaches are increasingly recommended to complement integrated assessment in support of these initiatives. A systematic review of the academic literature was carried out in order to analyze the main types of socio-economic assessments used to inform the coastal zone management process as well as their effectiveness. A corpus of 1682 articles published between 1992 and 2011 was identified by means of the representative coverage approach, from which 170 were selected by applying inclusion/exclusion criteria and then classified using a content analysis methodology. The percentage of articles that mention the use of socio-economic assessment in support of coastal zone management initiatives is increasing but remains relatively low. The review examines the links between the issues addressed by integrated assessments and the chosen analytical frameworks as well as the various economic assessment methods which are used in the successive steps of the coastal zone management process. The results show that i) analytical frameworks such as ‘risk and vulnerability’, ‘DPSIR’, ‘valuation’, ‘ecosystem services’ and ‘preferences’ are likely to lead to effective integration of social sciences in coastal zone management research while ‘integration’, ‘sustainability’ and ‘participation’ remain difficult to operationalize, ii) risk assessments are insufficiently implemented in developing countries, and iii) indicator systems in support of multi-criteria analyses could be used during more stages of the coastal zone management process. Finally, it is suggested that improved collaboration between science and management would require that scientists currently involved in coastal zone management processes further educate themselves in integrated assessment approaches and participatory methodologies.


Marine ecosystem services: Linking indicators to their classification

There is a multitude of ecosystem service classifications available within the literature, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. Elements of them have been used to tailor a generic ecosystem service classification for the marine environment and then for a case study site within the North Sea: the Dogger Bank. Indicators for each of the ecosystem services, deemed relevant to the case study site, were identified. Each indicator was then assessed against a set of agreed criteria to ensure its relevance and applicability to environmental management. This paper identifies the need to distinguish between indicators of ecosystem services that are entirely ecological in nature (and largely reveal the potential of an ecosystem to provide ecosystem services), indicators for the ecological processes contributing to the delivery of these services, and indicators of benefits that reveal the realized human use or enjoyment of an ecosystem service. It highlights some of the difficulties faced in selecting meaningful indicators, such as problems of specificity, spatial disconnect and the considerable uncertainty about marine species, habitats and the processes, functions and services they contribute to.


Methodological considerations when using local knowledge to infer spatial patterns of resource exploitation in an Irish Sea fishery

Despite the potential of local knowledge (LK) to provide reliable, quick, and low cost data, its use has been limited due to the lack of understanding of the accuracy and biases. We compared fishers’ spatial LK data and fishery independent data from vessel monitoring systems (VMS) to analyse the concurrence between fisher derived and independently derived information. We examined the effect of sample size and scale on the match, to indicate the most appropriate approaches for future studies. Whilst LK provided a reasonable estimate of fishing extent, the estimated intensity of fishing was less well correlated with the VMS data. The agreement between LK and VMS data was significantly affected by the sample size from which LK knowledge was derived. There can be considerable variation in the accuracy of individual LK samples, therefore the sample size must be maximised to buffer for unreliable LK samples. A finer grid provided a more accurate representation of fishing extent; however, fishing intensity was more accurate when a coarser grid resolution was used. The use of a larger grid could also buffer some of the inaccuracy of a small sample size when determining intensity. Local knowledge can provide data of a similar accuracy to conventional scientific data, which is of particular use in data poor situations, e.g. in developing countries and for inshore fisheries that have no current mandatory VMS recording systems. However, the proportion of the community sampled should be maximised to minimise inaccuracy between individual fishers.


Marine Managed Areas and Associated Fisheries in the US Caribbean

The marine managed areas (MMAs) of the U.S. Caribbean are summarized and specific data-rich cases are examined to determine their impact upon fisheries management in the region. In this region, the productivity and connectivity of benthic habitats such as mangroves, seagrass and coral reefs is essential for many species targeted by fisheries. A minority of the 39 MMAs covering over 4000 km2 serve any detectable management or conservation function due to deficiencies in the design, objectives, compliance or enforcement. Fifty percent of the area within MMA boundaries had no-take regulations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, while Puerto Rico only had 3%. Six case studies are compared and contrasted to better understand the potential of these MMAs for fisheries management. Signs of success were associated with including sufficient areas of essential fish habitat (nursery, spawning and migration corridors), year-round no-take regulations, enforcement and isolation. These criteria have been identified as important in the conservation of marine resources, but little has been done to modify the way MMAs are designated and implemented in the region. Site-specific monitoring to measure the effects of these MMAs is needed to demonstrate the benefits to fisheries and gain local support for a greater use as a fisheries management tool.


Map stories can provide dynamic visualizations of the Anthropocene to broaden factually based public understanding

Provision of broadly accessible and spatially referenced visualizations of the nature and rate of change in the Anthropocene is an essential tool in communicating to policy makers and to the wider public, who generally have little or no contact with academic publications and often rely on media-based information, to form and guide opinion. Three examples are used to demonstrate the use of geo-referenced data and GIS-based map compilations to provide accurate and widely accessible visual portrayals of historical processes. The first example shows the spread of Neolithic agriculture from Mesopotamia west and north across Europe over several millennia. The second plots the history of the drainage of the Fens (wetlands) in eastern England from the early seventeenth century onward. A third example illustrates one way in which releasing data in the public domain can lead to the enhancement of public data holdings. A concluding discussion outlines ways in which the methodology illustrated may be applied to processes key to understanding the Anthropocene.


Meta-analysis indicates habitat-specific alterations to primary producer and herbivore communities in marine protected areas

Understanding changes in trophic group interactions following the implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs) is critical in understanding their success, or otherwise. A systematic review and meta-analysis was used to determine trends in the effects of MPAs on primary producers and herbivores from 57 locations throughout the world. On coral reefs, macroalgal coverage and sea urchin density were significantly (p<0.05p<0.05) lower within MPAs, with 79% and 83% of MPAs reporting smaller populations of these groups, respectively. Conversely, in kelp/algal habitats, where habitat-forming macroalgae are beneficial, no statistical differences were found in either algal coverage or herbivore density, however, 70% of MPAs reported lower densities of urchins. Finally, we found that the literature conveyed a significant negative relationship between grazer density effect sizes and macroalgal coverage effect sizes. Our results indicate that the tropho-dynamics of recovering fish populations in disparate habitats is likely to be more complex than initially thought, and partly driven by differential fisheries and habitat effects. This study highlights the importance of selecting MPAs based on the processes that assist in the recovery of ecosystems in the aftermath of fishing, in addition to habitat quality and representativeness.


Quantifying Fish Assemblages in Large, Offshore Marine Protected Areas: An Australian Case Study

As the number of marine protected areas (MPAs) increases globally, so does the need to assess if MPAs are meeting their management goals. Integral to this assessment is usually a long-term biological monitoring program, which can be difficult to develop for large and remote areas that have little available fine-scale habitat and biological data. This is the situation for many MPAs within the newly declared Australian Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR) network which covers approximately 3.1 million km2 of continental shelf, slope, and abyssal habitat, much of which is remote and difficult to access. A detailed inventory of the species, types of assemblages present and their spatial distribution within individual MPAs is required prior to developing monitoring programs to measure the impact of management strategies. Here we use a spatially-balanced survey design and non-extractive baited video observations to quantitatively document the fish assemblages within the continental shelf area (a multiple use zone, IUCN VI) of the Flinders Marine Reserve, within the Southeast marine region. We identified distinct demersal fish assemblages, quantified assemblage relationships with environmental gradients (primarily depth and habitat type), and described their spatial distribution across a variety of reef and sediment habitats. Baited videos recorded a range of species from multiple trophic levels, including species of commercial and recreational interest. The majority of species, whilst found commonly along the southern or south-eastern coasts of Australia, are endemic to Australia, highlighting the global significance of this region. Species richness was greater on habitats containing some reef and declined with increasing depth. The trophic breath of species in assemblages was also greater in shallow waters. We discuss the utility of our approach for establishing inventories when little prior knowledge is available and how such an approach may inform future monitoring efforts within the CMR network.


Biogeographic assessments: A framework for information synthesis in marine spatial planning

This paper presents the Biogeographic Assessment Framework (BAF), a decision support process for marine spatial planning (MSP), developed through two decades of close collaborations between scientists and marine managers. Spatial planning is a considerable challenge for marine stewardship agencies because of the need to synthesize information on complex socio-ecological patterns across geographically broad spatial scales. This challenge is compounded by relatively short time-frames for implementation and limited financial and technological resources. To address this pragmatically, BAF provides a rapid, flexible and multi-disciplinary approach to integrate geospatial information into formats and visualization tools readily useable for spatial planning. Central to BAF is four sequential components: (1) Planning; (2) Data Evaluation; (3) Ecosystem Characterization; and (4) Management Applications. The framework has been applied to support the development of several marine spatial plans in the United States and Territories. This paper describes the structure of the BAF framework and the associated analytical techniques. Two management applications are provided to demonstrate the utility of BAF in supporting decision making in MSP.


An Updated Synthesis of the Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biodiversity

Ocean acidification, often referred to as the “other CO2 problem”, is a direct result of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, cement production and other human activities. As atmospheric CO2 increases, more enters the ocean across the sea surface. This process has significant societal benefits: by absorbing around a quarter of the total human production of CO2, the ocean has substantively slowed climate change. But it also has less desirable consequences, since the dissolved CO2 affects seawater chemistry, with a succession of potentially adverse impacts on marine biodiversity, ecosystem services and human society.

The starting point for such changes is an increase in seawater acidity, resulting from the release of hydrogen ions (H+). Acidity is measured on the logarithmic pH scale, with H+ concentrations* at pH 7.0 being ten times greater than at pH 8.0. Since preindustrial times, the mean pH in the surface ocean has dropped by 0.1 units, a linear-scale increase in acidity of ~26%. Unless CO2 emissions are rapidly curtailed, mean surface pH is projected – with a high degree of certainty – to fall by a further ~0.3 units by 2100, representing an acidity increase of around 170% compared to pre-industrial levels. The actual change will depend on future CO2 emissions, with both regional and local variations in the oceanic response (Chapter 3).

Very many scientific studies in the past decade have unequivocally shown that a wide range of marine organisms are sensitive to pH changes of such magnitude, affecting their physiology, fitness and survival, mostly (but not always) in a negative way. The consequences of ocean acidification for marine food webs, ecosystems, biogeochemistry and the human use of marine resources are, however, much less certain. In particular, ocean acidification is not the only environmental change that organisms will experience in future, since it will occur in combination with other stressors (e.g., increasing temperature and deoxygenation). The biological effects of multiple stressors occurring together cannot be assumed to be additive; instead, due to interactions, their combined impacts may be amplified (through synergism) or diminished (antagonism). Furthermore, there is now evidence that some – but not necessarily all – organisms may show genetically mediated, adaptive responses to ocean acidification.

This review provides an updated synthesis of the impacts of ocean acidification on marine biodiversity based upon current literature, including emerging research on the geological history of natural ocean acidification events, and the projected societal costs of future acidification. The report takes into consideration comments and feedback submitted by Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, other Governments and organizations as well as experts who kindly peer-reviewed the report.


Organ damage in Atlantic herring larvae as a result of ocean acidification

The dissolution of anthropogenically emitted excess carbon dioxide lowers the pH of the world's ocean water. The larvae of mass spawning marine fishes may be particularly vulnerable to such ocean acidification (OA), yet the generality of earlier results is unclear. Here we show the detrimental effects of OA on the development of a commercially important fish species, the Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus). Larvae were reared at three levels of CO2: today (0.0385 kPa), end of next century (0.183 kPa), and a coastal upwelling scenario (0.426 kPa), under near-natural conditions in large outdoor tanks. Exposure to elevated CO2levels resulted in stunted growth and development, decreased condition, and severe tissue damage in many organs, with the degree of damage increasing with CO2 concentration. This complements earlier studies of OA on Atlantic cod larvae that revealed similar organ damage but at increased growth rates and no effect on condition.


Tools for Landscape-Level Assessment and Planning: A Guide for the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative

The heart of this Guide is the Matrix of 100 tools, divided into user categories (general public, resource manager, and technical expert) and subject areas. So whether you are a community planner who wants to see the potential cost/benefits of building a sea wall or a forest scientist who wants to work on species connectivity for many species simultaneously, you can quickly look up which tools might be appropriate for you.

All 100 tools are described in detail following the Matrix.

Things to note:

  • We use a broad definition of tools, including anything that facilitated: 1) gathering and distributing relevant data (e.g. regional databases that support queries and downloads); 2) conducting analyses and modeling (e.g. vulnerability assessments); 3) visualizing data and analysis/modeling results (including current and potential future conditions); and, 4) integrating information into planning for conservation, land use, and land management.
  • We place an emphasis on tools currently in use within the region.
  • We do not include products that were simply guidelines, frameworks, or processes (but the Appendix does include some that seemed especially useful; for example, see TESSA).
  • We mostly avoid tools that were geared to one state or province and those that could not be readily utilized throughout the region.
  • We do not include tools that are more accurately described as services—in other words, those that required extensive and expensive—personalized set-up or customization.
  • We avoid tools that were no longer maintained as well as most tools still under development. Because tools often become obsolete and new ones frequently emerge, this guide should be updated periodically.

The Background section of this guide lists the Necessary and Desired Attributes of the tools included in the Matrix.

We have selected 11 tools from the Matrix that we describe as a “toolkit” that can support many of the NPLCC’s needs. Each of these tools also had widespread interest among NPLCC partners and/or applicability to multiple functions in the Matrix. This guide takes an in-depth look at these 11 Featured Tools, covering what they do best, how they work, their data requirements, key outputs, computer and software requirements, training requirements, and costs. A “snapshot” of each featured tool gives a brief description, examples of use, and an “at-a-glance” table that shows the tools in a matrix format.

We chose four tools to explore further via Case Studies. These are here to provide a more nuanced look at how tools have actually been applied, especially where the application experience yielded important Lessons Learned and Helpful Hints. The case studies from the region will also promote national and international awareness of NPLCC work on landscape-level conservation in the face of climate change.

Finally, the Appendix lists other potentially useful resources that did not qualify as one of our “Matrix tools” but that may assist you with your work—for example, by helping you use the tools more effectively.


Web technologies for environmental Big Data

Recent evolutions in computing science and web technology provide the environmental community with continuously expanding resources for data collection and analysis that pose unprecedented challenges to the design of analysis methods, workflows, and interaction with data sets. In the light of the recent UK Research Council funded Environmental Virtual Observatory pilot project, this paper gives an overview of currently available implementations related to web-based technologies for processing large and heterogeneous datasets and discuss their relevance within the context of environmental data processing, simulation and prediction. We found that, the processing of the simple datasets used in the pilot proved to be relatively straightforward using a combination of R, RPy2, PyWPS and PostgreSQL. However, the use of NoSQL databases and more versatile frameworks such as OGC standard based implementations may provide a wider and more flexible set of features that particularly facilitate working with larger volumes and more heterogeneous data sources.


Spatial Scale, Means and Gradients of Hydrographic Variables Define Pelagic Seascapes of Bluefin and Bullet Tuna Spawning Distribution

Seascape ecology is an emerging discipline focused on understanding how features of the marine habitat influence the spatial distribution of marine species. However, there is still a gap in the development of concepts and techniques for its application in the marine pelagic realm, where there are no clear boundaries delimitating habitats. Here we demonstrate that pelagic seascape metrics defined as a combination of hydrographic variables and their spatial gradients calculated at an appropriate spatial scale, improve our ability to model pelagic fish distribution. We apply the analysis to study the spawning locations of two tuna species: Atlantic bluefin and bullet tuna. These two species represent a gradient in life history strategies. Bluefin tuna has a large body size and is a long-distant migrant, while bullet tuna has a small body size and lives year-round in coastal waters within the Mediterranean Sea. The results show that the models performance incorporating the proposed seascape metrics increases significantly when compared with models that do not consider these metrics. This improvement is more important for Atlantic bluefin, whose spawning ecology is dependent on the local oceanographic scenario, than it is for bullet tuna, which is less influenced by the hydrographic conditions. Our study advances our understanding of how species perceive their habitat and confirms that the spatial scale at which the seascape metrics provide information is related to the spawning ecology and life history strategy of each species.