Galapagos is often cited as an example of the conflicts that are emerging between resource conservation and economic development in island ecosystems, as the pressures associated with tourism threaten nature, including the iconic and emblematic species, unique terrestrial landscapes, and special marine environments. In this paper, two projects are described that rely upon dynamic systems models and agent-based models to examine human–environment interactions. We use a theoretical context rooted in complexity theory to guide the development of our models that are linked to social–ecological dynamics. The goal of this paper is to describe key elements, relationships, and processes to inform and enhance our understanding of human–environment interactions in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. By formalizing our knowledge of how systems operate and the manner in which key elements are linked in coupled human–natural systems, we specify rules, relationships, and rates of exchange between social and ecological features derived through statistical functions and/or functions specified in theory or practice. The processes described in our models also have practical applications in that they emphasize how political policies generate different human responses and model outcomes, many detrimental to the social–ecological sustainability of the Galapagos Islands.
I provide a brief review of the origins of the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling and the failure to successfully regulate whaling that led to the commercial moratorium in 1986. I then describe the Japanese Whale Research Programs Under Special Permit in the Antarctica (JARPA I, JARPA II) and the origins of the case Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan: New Zealand Intervening) in the International Court of Justice. I explain that the International Court of Justice chose to conduct an objective review of JARPA II, the standard that it used for the review, and the pathway that it took to adjudicate the case without providing a definition of science to be used in international law. I conclude with a brief discussion of the implications of the Judgment for the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling, and the International Whaling Commission in particular, for other international treaties, and for the interaction of science and law more generally.
Coral reefs worldwide are shifting from high-diversity, coral-dominated communities to low-diversity systems dominated by seaweeds. This shift can impact essential recovery processes such as larval recruitment and ecosystem resilience. Recent evidence suggests that chemical cues from certain corals attract, and from certain seaweeds suppress, recruitment of juvenile fishes, with loss of coral cover and increases in seaweed cover creating negative feedbacks that prevent reef recovery and sustain seaweed dominance. Unfortunately, the level of seaweed increase and coral decline that creates this chemically cued tipping point remains unknown, depriving managers of data-based targets to prevent damaging feedbacks. We conducted flume and field assays that suggest juvenile fishes sense and respond to cues produced by low levels of seaweed cover. However, the herbivore species we tested was more tolerant of degraded reef cues than non-herbivores, possibly providing some degree of resilience if these fishes recruit, consume macroalgae, and diminish negative cues.
Ecological indicators are increasingly used in marine and freshwater management but only few are developed towards full operationalization with known patterns of variability and documented responses to natural and anthropogenic environmental drivers. Here, we evaluate potential sources of indicator variability at two different spatial scales in three coastal fish-based indicators of environmental status in the Baltic Sea; abundance of cyprinids, abundance of perch and the proportion of larger perch. The study was performed on a data set covering 41 monitoring areas subject to different levels of anthropogenic impact, at a latitudinal range of 56–66°N and a salinity range of 2–8. Interannual variation was clearly minor relative to spatial variation. Small-scale spatial variation was related to water depth, wave exposure and water temperature. The remaining variation was assessed in relation to differences in natural and anthropogenic drivers between monitoring areas. Cyprinids showed a clear inverse relationship to water transparency, which was used as a proxy for eutrophication, indicating increased abundances in nutrient enriched areas. None of the indicators showed an expected negative relationship to the level of coastal commercial fisheries catches. Rather, a positive relationship for Perch suggested that the coastal fisheries were concentrated to areas with strong perch populations in the studied areas. The effect of salinity and climate (temperature during the growth season) among monitoring areas were small. The results emphasize the importance of assigning area-specific boundary levels to define good environmental status in the coastal fish indicators, in order to account for natural sources of variability. Further, although long-term monitoring in reference areas is crucial for obtaining a historical baseline, our results suggest that the status assessment of coastal fish would generally gain precision by increasingly including spatially based assessments. We propose that similar analytical approaches could be applied to other ecosystem components, especially in naturally heterogenic environments, in order to separate indicator variability attributed to potential anthropogenic impact.
The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the feasibility and potential utility of decision-centric social-economic monitoring using data collected from Great Barrier Reef (Reef) region. The social and economic long term monitoring program (SELTMP) for the Reef is a novel attempt to monitor the social and economic dimensions of social-ecological change in a globally and nationally important region. It represents the current status and condition of the major user groups of the Reef with the potential to simultaneously consider trends, interconnections, conflicts, dependencies and vulnerabilities. Our approach was to combine a well-established conceptual framework with a strong governance structure and partnership arrangement that enabled the co-production of knowledge. The framework is a modification of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and it was used to guide indicator choice. Indicators were categorised as; (i) resource use and dependency, (ii) ecosystem benefits and well-being, and (iii) drivers of change. Data were collected through secondary datasets where existing and new datasets were created where not, using standard survey techniques. Here we present an overview of baseline results of new survey data from commercial-fishers (n = 210), marine-based tourism operators (n = 119), tourists (n = 2877), local residents (n = 3181), and other Australians (n = 2002). The indicators chosen describe both social and economic components of the Reef system and represent an unprecedented insight into the ways in which people currently use and depend on the Reef, the benefits that they derive, and how they perceive, value and relate to the Reef and each other. However, the success of a program such as the SELTMP can only occur with well-translated cutting-edge data and knowledge that are collaboratively produced, adaptive, and directly feeds into current management processes. We discuss how data from the SELTMP have already been incorporated into Reef management decision-making through substantial inclusion in three key policy documents.
Coral reef ecosystems are disturbed in tandem by climatic and anthropogenic stressors. A number of factors act synergistically to reduce the live coral cover and threaten the existence of reefs. Continuous monitoring of the coral communities during 2012–2014 captured an unprecedented growth of macroalgae as a bloom at Gulf of Mannar (GoM) and Palk Bay (PB) which are protected and unprotected reefs, respectively. The two reefs varying in their protection level enabled to conduct an assessment on the response of coral communities and their recovery potential during and after the macroalgal bloom. Surveys in 2012 revealed a live coral cover of 36.8 and 14.6% in GoM and PB, respectively. Live coral cover was lost at an annual rate of 4% in PB due to the Caulerpa racemosa blooms that occurred in 2013 and 2014. In GoM, the loss of live coral cover was estimated to be 16.5% due to C. taxifolia bloom in 2013. Tissue regeneration by the foliose and branching coral morphotypes aided the recovery of live coral cover in GoM, whereas the chances for the recovery of live coral cover in PB reef were low, primarily due to frequent algal blooms, and the existing live coral cover was mainly due to the abundance of slow-growing massive corals. In combination, results of this study suggested that the recovery of a coral reef after a macroalgal bloom largely depends on coral species composition and the frequency of stress events. A further study linking macroalgal bloom to its specific cause is essential for the successful intervention and management.
Peer-reviewed publications focusing on climate change are growing exponentially with the consequence that the uptake and influence of individual papers varies greatly. Here, we derive metrics of narrativity from psychology and literary theory, and use these metrics to test the hypothesis that more narrative climate change writing is more likely to be influential, using citation frequency as a proxy for influence. From a sample of 732 scientific abstracts drawn from the climate change literature, we find that articles with more narrative abstracts are cited more often. This effect is closely associated with journal identity: higher-impact journals tend to feature more narrative articles, and these articles tend to be cited more often. These results suggest that writing in a more narrative style increases the uptake and influence of articles in climate literature, and perhaps in scientific literature more broadly.
Science and technology are embedded in virtually every aspect of modern life. As a result, people face an increasing need to integrate information from science with their personal values and other considerations as they make important life decisions about medical care, the safety of foods, what to do about climate change, and many other issues. Communicating science effectively, however, is a complex task and an acquired skill. Moreover, the approaches to communicating science that will be most effective for specific audiences and circumstances are not obvious. Fortunately, there is an expanding science base from diverse disciplines that can support science communicators in making these determinations.
Communicating Science Effectively offers a research agenda for science communicators and researchers seeking to apply this research and fill gaps in knowledge about how to communicate effectively about science, focusing in particular on issues that are contentious in the public sphere. To inform this research agenda, this publication identifies important influences – psychological, economic, political, social, cultural, and media-related – on how science related to such issues is understood, perceived, and used.
Boston residents are already affected by extreme heat, rain, snow and flooding. These trends will likely continue. The City launched Climate Ready Boston to help Boston plan for the future impacts of climate change.
Climate Ready Boston is an ongoing initiative. We released a comprehensive study report in December 2016 that you can read below. Next, we plan to work with the community and other partners to help advance our vision for a Climate Ready Boston.
Please note: the full report is approximately 120 MB, and includes detailed maps which may increase load-times on mobile devices and older computers. You may download the full-text from the City of Boston's website, shown above.
Tidal marshes and the ecosystem services they provide may be at risk from sea-level rise (SLR). Tidal marsh resilience to SLR can vary due to differences in local rates of SLR, geomorphology, sediment availability and other factors. Understanding differences in resilience is critical to inform coastal management and policy, but comparing resilience across marshes is hindered by a lack of simple, effective analysis tools. Quantitative, multi-metric indices are widely employed to inform management of benthic aquatic ecosystems, but not coastal wetlands. Here, we develop and apply tidal marsh resilience to sea-level rise (MARS) indices incorporating ten metrics that contribute to overall marsh resilience to SLR. We applied MARS indices to tidal marshes at 16 National Estuarine Research Reserves across the conterminous U.S. This assessment revealed moderate resilience overall, although nearly all marshes had some indication of risk. Pacific marshes were generally more resilient to SLR than Atlantic ones, with the least resilient marshes found in southern New England. We provide a calculation tool to facilitate application of the MARS indices to additional marshes. MARS index scores can inform the choice of the most appropriate coastal management strategy for a marsh: moderate scores call for actions to enhance resilience while low scores suggest investment may be better directed to adaptation strategies such as creating opportunities for marsh migration rather than attempting to save existing marshes. The MARS indices thus provide a powerful new approach to evaluate tidal marsh resilience and to inform development of adaptation strategies in the face of SLR.