Ecosystem modelling is increasingly used to explore ecosystem-level effects of changing environmental conditions and management actions. For coral reefs there has been increasing interest in recent decades in the use of ecosystem models for evaluating the effects of fishing and the efficacy of marine protected areas. However, ecosystem models that integrate physical forcings, biogeochemical and ecological dynamics, and human induced perturbations are still underdeveloped. We applied an ecosystem model (Atlantis) to the coral reef ecosystem of Guam using a suite of management scenarios prioritized in consultation with local resource managers to review the effects of each scenario on performance measures related to the ecosystem, the reef-fish fishery (e.g., fish landings) and coral habitat. Comparing tradeoffs across the selected scenarios showed that each scenario performed best for at least one of the selected performance indicators. The integrated ‘full regulation’ scenario outperformed other scenarios with four out of the six performance metrics at the cost of reef-fish landings. This model application quantifies the socio-ecological costs and benefits of alternative management scenarios. When the effects of climate change were taken into account, several scenarios performed equally well, but none prevented a collapse in coral biomass over the next few decades assuming a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario.
A major limitation to fully integrated ecosystem based fishery management approaches is a lack of information on the spatial distribution of marine species and the environmental conditions shaping these distributions. This is particularly problematic for deep-water species that are hard to sample and are data poor. The past decade has seen the rapid development of a suite of advanced species distribution, or ecological niche, modelling approaches developed specifically to support efficient and targeted management. However, model performance can vary significantly and the appropriateness of which methods are best for a given application remains questionable. Species distribution models were developed for three commercially valuable Hawaiian deep-water eteline snappers: Etelis coruscans (Onaga), Etelis carbunculus (Ehu) and Pristipomoides filamentosus (Opakapaka). Distributional data for these species was relatively sparse. To identify the best method, model performance and distributional accuracy was assessed and compared using three approaches: Generalised Additive Models (GAM), Boosted Regression Trees (BRT) and Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt). Independent spatial validation data found MaxEnt consistently provided better model performance with ‘good’ model predictions (AUC =>0.8). Each species was influenced by a unique combination of environmental conditions, with depth, terrain (slope) and substrate (low lying unconsolidated sediments), being the three most important in shaping their distributions. Sustainable fisheries management, marine spatial planning and environmental decision support systems rely on an understanding species distribution patterns and habitat linkages. This study demonstrates that predictive species distribution modelling approaches can be used to accurately model and map sparse species distribution data across marine landscapes. The approach used herein was found to be an accurate tool to delineate species distributions and associated habitat linkages, account for species-specific differences and support sustainable ecosystem-based management.
Creating protected areas (PAs) intended to counteract the effects of human activities on the environment is a significant step towards conserving coastal and marine ecosystems. Various countries have introduced legal mechanisms to create and manage their important ecosystems, such as mangroves. Despite the significance of evaluating the effectiveness of PAs, literature on the topic is scarce, especially pertaining to the mangrove ecosystems. Therefore, the present study intended to evaluate the management of a PA located in northeastern Brazil throughout the first decade of the current century (2003, 2006, and 2012). The management of the PA was considered inadequate, and the level of efficacy even declined progressively, although a slight improvement was recorded in 2006. The respective levels of effectiveness were 35%, 50%, and 15% for 2003, 2006, and 2012. The improvement recorded in 2006 was attributed to a new management plan and the ensuing environmental actions, such as monitoring and management programs, PA zoning, and others. The worst management performance was indicated for the following assessment parameters, namely, administrative matters (public administration), biogeographic characteristics, and threats. One of the main reasons for the low management effectiveness is that the mangrove PA is located in an urban area of one the most densely populated cities in Brazil, namely, Fortaleza, (7786 inhabitant/km2). The location has led to an increase in the number of threats to the PA and has strongly influenced the biogeographic characteristics. The urbanization in and around the area has resulted in the PA being isolated, with no connection to other ecosystems through ecological corridors. Both direct measures and strategic planning are required to facilitate continuous improvement of the management effectiveness of PAs. This strategy is imperative in countries with tropical ecosystems characterized by significant biodiversity, which is vulnerable to anthropogenic effects.
Sea level rise (SLR) imposes an increasing flooding hazard on low-lying coastal communities due to higher exposure to high-tide conditions and storm surge. Additional coastal flooding hazard arises due to reduced effectiveness of gravity-based drainage systems to drain rainwater during heavy rain events. Over the past decade, several coastal communities along the US Atlantic coast have experienced an increasing rate of flooding events. In this study, we focus on the increasing flooding hazard in Miami Beach, Florida, which has caused severe property damage and significant disruptions to daily life. We evaluate the flooding frequency and its causes by analyzing tide and rain gauge records, media reports, insurance claims, and photo records from Miami Beach acquired during 1998–2013. Our analysis indicates that significant changes in flooding frequency occurred after 2006, in which rain-induced events increased by 33% and tide-induced events increased by more than 400%. We also analyzed tide gauge records from Southeast Florida and detected a decadal-scale accelerating rates of SLR. The average pre-2006 rate is 3 ± 2 mm/yr, similar to the global long-term rate of SLR, whereas after 2006 the average rate of SLR in Southeast Florida rose to 9 ± 4 mm/yr. Our results suggest that engineering solutions to SLR should rely on regional SLR rate projections and not only on the commonly used global SLR projections.
Most marine habitats have unique soundscapes and, among other potential ecological consequences, the larvae of many fish and invertebrates use habitat-specific sounds to locate appropriate settlement habitat. Anthropogenic stressors have degraded coastal ecosystems worldwide, but the effects of this degradation on the sounds emanating from deteriorated habitats are largely undocumented, as is the effectiveness of habitat restoration in reestablishing natural soundscapes. In this study, we investigated how ambient sound emanating from three near-shore, tropical habitats (subtidal mangrove prop-root habitat, seagrass, and sponge-dominated hard-bottom) in the Florida Keys, Florida (USA) varied with time-of-day and lunar phase. We also examined whether the destruction of sponge communities in hard-bottom habitats struck by cyanobacteria blooms alters the soundscape of that habitat, and if restoration of sponge communities can reestablish natural underwater soundscapes. Soundscapes of each habitat were examined using several acoustic metrics, including spectral analysis and counts of fish calls and snapping shrimp snaps. Mangrove, healthy hard-bottom, and restored hard-bottom habitats had higher soundscape spectra levels than seagrass and degraded hard-bottom whether at noon or dusk during new or full moons. Low-frequency sounds, most likely fish calls in the ~ 300 Hz frequency range, were most prevalent in mangroves during dusk full moons. There were also higher numbers of snapping shrimp snaps in mangrove, healthy hard-bottom, and restored hard-bottom habitats than in degraded hard-bottom and seagrass beds, especially during the prominent dusk snapping shrimp chorus. Our results demonstrate that near-shore tropical habitats have unique soundscapes that are diminished by habitat degradation, but can be reestablished by habitat restoration, at least in the case of sponge-dominated hard-bottom.
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant (FDNPP) accident resulted in huge environmental and socioeconomic impacts to Japan. To document the actual environmental and socioeconomic effects of the FDNPP accident, we describe here atmospheric and marine contamination due to radionuclides released from the FDNPP accident using papers published during past five years, in which temporal and spatial variations of FDNPP-derived radionuclides in air, deposition and seawater and their mapping are recorded by local, regional and global monitoring activities. High radioactivity-contaminated area in land were formed by the dispersion of the radioactive cloud and precipitation, depending on land topography and local meteorological conditions, whereas extremely high concentrations of 131I and radiocesium in seawater occurred due to direct release of radioactivity-contaminated stagnant water in addition to atmospheric deposition. For both of atmosphere and ocean, numerical model simulations, including local, regional and global-scale modeling, were extensively employed to evaluate source terms of the FDNPP-derived radionuclides from the monitoring data. These models also provided predictions of the dispersion and high deposition areas of the FDNPP-derived radionuclides. However, there are significant differences between the observed and simulated values. Then, the monitoring data would give a good opportunity to improve numerical modeling.
Although the limitations of implementing the mitigation hierarchy have been widely discussed in scientific literature, these studies have drawn mainly on feedback concerning terrestrial ecosystems. In the case of development projects in marine and coastal environments, certain issues must be tackled to improve existing practice. This article focuses on the methodologies used to assess both the ecological losses resulting from a development project and the ecological gains generated by an offset measure. The originality of this article is to propose a standardized, operational approach regardless of the development project and the ecosystem impacted that (i) enhances avoidance and reduction efforts and (ii) assesses biodiversity offset needs based on data available in Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). The proposed hybrid method combines a multi-criteria analysis of the state of the environment, inspired by the Unified Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM), and a more accurate assessment at indicator level inspired by Habitat Equivalency Analysis (HEA). The steps of the method, from the selection of biophysical indicators to offset sizing, are described and are then applied to two EIA case studies: one related to a port extension and the other to an offshore wind farm.
This study aims to assess the wave energy at five coastal stations in the Gulf of Oman using the time series of locally generated wind waves obtained by numerical modeling for 11 years. For this purpose, the spatial, seasonal, monthly, directional, inter-annual of wave energy and power were investigated. The spatial distribution shows that the wave power increases towards the Indian Ocean and the highest mean wave power is located at the eastern station in all seasons. In addition, monthly mean wave power is highest during July and August while the monthly maximum wave power is highest during February at all stations. The ratio of monthly maximum to mean wave power is also the lowest during May to August. Moreover, Monthly Variability Index is the highest in west of the domain where there is no significant wave power potential. In addition, annual wave power as well as total and exploitable wave energies increases from west to east, where the dominant waves propagate from the south, and the exploitable wave energy is approximately 20 times greater than of the central stations.
This study examines support for climate adaptation planning and the role of perceived risk, uncertainty, and trust on adaptation of U.S. coastal communities. This assessment is based on the analysis of web-based questionnaires (n = 137) among state, local, and non-government organization (NGO) planners in Alaska, Florida, and Maryland. Ordinal regression and correlation analysis were used to assess which factors are related to support for adaptation during two planning stages. Findings from this study suggest the influence of perceived risk, uncertainty, and trust on support for climate change adaptation (CCA) varies across two stages of adaptation planning (support for the development of plans and willingness to allocate human and financial resources to implement plans). The disaggregation of planning entities into different study areas and levels of management revealed significant differences in the relationship between perceived risk, uncertainty, and trust and support for CCA planning. These findings have implications for the design of communication and engagement strategies.
This report is one of three marine spatial planning (MSP) case study reports produced by the Coastal Resources Center/Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program (CRC) at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography. It is part of CRC’s broader ongoing research and capacity‐building initiative to strengthen the network of marine spatial planning and coastal management practitioners. The purpose of the case studies is to document and share lessons learned from examples of marine spatial planning in the U.S. in order to build the capacity of MSP and coastal management practitioners. Research was conducted in three locations: Rhode Island, Washington State and San Francisco. The Rhode Island case focused on implementation of the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan; the Washington case focused on the ongoing development of the Washington Coast Marine Spatial Plan; and the San Francisco study became a two‐case analysis of two different Coast Guard‐led waterways management initiatives. CRC has produced three technical reports summarizing case study research as well as a series of shorter publications highlighting key findings.
All documents were developed with support from the URI Coastal Resources Center’s Marine Spatial Planning Advisory Committee members (Geoff Coughlan, Memorial University; Tracey Dalton, University of Rhode Island Department of Marine Affairs; Grover Fugate, Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council; Jennifer Hennessey, Washington Department of Ecology; Edward G. LeBlanc, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England; Betsy Nicholson, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and Stephen Olsen, Professor in Residence at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography and Director Emeritus of the URI Coastal Resources Center). In particular, CRC’s project team (Jennifer McCann, Tiffany Smythe, Nicole Andrescavage, Christian Fox, Tom Pavitt and Danielle Turek) would like to recognize the expertise and thoughtful advice provided by Stephen Olsen on all of these products. For further information, please see www.crc.uri.edu/initiatives_page/msp/.