Biodiversity represents the variety of life on Earth, including the full range of ecosystems, species, and genes. Biodiversity conservation efforts to date have achieved a great deal to help secure the continued functioning of many threatened ecosystems and the survival of numerous species. Biodiversity offsets can: (i) improve the conservation outcomes from large-scale development projects, and (ii) provide much-needed funding for protected areas and similar conservation efforts. This user guide provides introductory guidance on whether, when, and how to prepare and implement biodiversity offsets for large-scale, private, and public sector development projects. It also explores some of the opportunities that may exist for developing national biodiversity offset systems.
Climate change and resource exploitation have been shown to modify the importance of bottom-up and top-down forces in ecosystems. However, the resulting pattern of trophic control in complex food webs is an emergent property of the system and thus unintuitive. We develop a statistical nondeterministic model, capable of modeling complex patterns of trophic control for the heavily impacted North Sea ecosystem. The model is driven solely by fishing mortality and climatic variables and based on time-series data covering >40 y for six plankton and eight fish groups along with one bird group (>20 y). Simulations show the outstanding importance of top-down exploitation pressure for the dynamics of fish populations. Whereas fishing effects on predators indirectly altered plankton abundance, bottom-up climatic processes dominate plankton dynamics. Importantly, we show planktivorous fish to have a central role in the North Sea food web initiating complex cascading effects across and between trophic levels. Our linked model integrates bottom-up and top-down effects and is able to simulate complex long-term changes in ecosystem components under a combination of stressor scenarios. Our results suggest that in marine ecosystems, pathways for bottom-up and top-down forces are not necessarily mutually exclusive and together can lead to the emergence of complex patterns of control.
Surface analytical methods are applied to examine the environmental status of seawaters. The present overview emphasizes advantages of combining surface analytical methods, applied to a hazardous situation in the Adriatic Sea, such as monitoring of the first aggregation phases of dissolved organic matter in order to potentially predict the massive mucilage formation and testing of oil spill cleanup. Such an approach, based on fast and direct characterization of organic matter and its high-resolution visualization, sets a continuous-scale description of organic matter from micro- to nanometre scales. Electrochemical method of chronoamperometry at the dropping mercury electrode meets the requirements for monitoring purposes due to the simple and fast analysis of a large number of natural seawater samples enabling simultaneous differentiation of organic constituents. In contrast, atomic force microscopy allows direct visualization of biotic and abiotic particles and provides an insight into structural organization of marine organic matter at micro- and nanometre scales. In the future, merging data at different spatial scales, taking into account experimental input on micrometre scale, observations on metre scale and modelling on kilometre scale, will be important for developing sophisticated technological platforms for knowledge transfer, reports and maps applicable for the marine environmental protection and management of the coastal area, especially for tourism, fishery and cruiser trafficking.
The interactive and cumulative impacts of climate change on natural resources such as coral reefs present numerous challenges for conservation planning and management. Climate change adaptation is complex due to climate-stressor interactions across multiple spatial and temporal scales. This leaves decision makers worldwide faced with local, regional, and global-scale threats to ecosystem processes and services, occurring over time frames that require both near-term and long-term planning. Thus there is a need for structured approaches to adaptation planning that integrate existing methods for vulnerability assessment with design and evaluation of effective adaptation responses. The Corals and Climate Adaptation Planning project of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force seeks to develop guidance for improving coral reef management through tailored application of a climate-smart approach. This approach is based on principles from a recently-published guide which provides a framework for adopting forward-looking goals, based on assessing vulnerabilities to climate change and applying a structured process to design effective adaptation strategies. Work presented in this paper includes: (1) examination of the climate-smart management cycle as it relates to coral reefs; (2) a compilation of adaptation strategies for coral reefs drawn from a comprehensive review of the literature; (3) in-depth demonstration of climate-smart design for place-based crafting of robust adaptation actions; and (4) feedback from stakeholders on the perceived usefulness of the approach. We conclude with a discussion of lessons-learned on integrating climate-smart design into real-world management planning processes and a call from stakeholders for an “adaptation design tool” that is now under development.
Each of the jurisdictions within the UK and Ireland is refining the operational characteristics of its planning system and while there are some common practices, it is also the case that there are substantive divergences. In each territory the planning template is fundamentally shaped within a dynamic legal context and thus, students and practitioners of planning need accessible, informative and up-to-date literature dealing with this matter. Planning Law and Practice in Northern Ireland provides an interpretive narrative of the statutes, case law and planning procedures that have shaped its planning system, with due regard being given to the combined influences emanating from European Union, UK and Northern Ireland planning governance.
The unanticipated impacts of consumers in fragmented habitats are frequently a challenge for ecosystem management. On Indo-Pacific coral reefs, crown-of-thorns sea stars (Acanthasterspp.) are coral predators whose outbreaks cause precipitous coral decline. Across large spatial scales, Acanthaster densities are lower in large no-take Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and reefs subject to limited human exploitation. However, using a combination of observational and manipulative experiments, we found that Acanthaster densities within a network of small, no-take MPAs on reef flats in Fiji were ~2–3.4 times greater inside MPAs than in adjacent fished areas and ~2–2.5 times greater than the upper threshold density indicative of an outbreak. This appeared to result from selective Acanthaster migration to the coral-rich MPAs from fished areas that are coral-poor and dominated by macroalgae. Small MPAs can dramatically increase the cover of foundation species like corals, but may selectively attract coral predators like Acanthaster due to greater food densities within MPAs or because the MPAs are too small to support Acanthaster enemies. As coral cover increases, their chemical and visual cues may concentrate Acanthaster to outbreak densities that cause coral demise, compromising the value of small MPAs. An understanding of predator dynamics as a function of habitat type, size, and fragmentation needs to be incorporated into MPA design and management.
The continuous development of Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) provides a favourable context for environmental management and planning. However, it appears that the actual contribution of SDIs should also depend on the correlation between users’ expectations and the services delivered to them. Several studies have addressed some organizational, methodological and technological aspects of the development of SDIs. However, only a few studies have, to the best of our knowledge, studied SDI use at large. This article introduces a methodological approach oriented towards the study of the relationship between SDIs and the users interacting with them as part of their professional practices. Our study is applied to coastal zone management and planning in France. This approach combines structural and data flow modelling. The former is based on Social Network Analysis (SNA) and the latter on Data Flow Diagrams (DFD). This modelling approach has been applied to an online questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. The results identify the SDIs, geographical data flows and institutional levels implied in French coastal zone management and planning.
Biological invasions are major contributors to global change and native biodiversity decline. However, they are overlooked in marine conservation plans. Here, we examine for the first time the extent to which marine conservation planning research has addressed (or ignored) biological invasions. Furthermore, we explore the change of spatial priorities in conservation plans when different approaches are used to incorporate the presence and impacts of invasive species.
Global analysis with a focus on the Mediterranean Sea region.
We conducted a systematic literature review consisting of three steps: (1) article selection using a search engine, (2) abstract screening and (3) review of pertinent articles, which were identified in the second step. The information extracted included the scale and geographical location of each case study as well as the approach followed regarding invasive species. We also applied the software Marxan to produce and compare conservation plans for the Mediterranean Sea that either protect, or avoid areas impacted by invasives, or ignore the issue. One case study focused on the protection of critical habitats, and the other on endemic fish species.
We found that of 119 papers on marine spatial plans in specific biogeographic regions, only three (2.5%) explicitly took into account invasive species. When comparing the different conservation plans for each case study, we found that the majority of selected sites for protection (ca. 80%) changed in the critical habitat case study, while this proportion was lower but substantial (27%) in the endemic fish species case study.
Biological invasions are being widely disregarded when planning for conservation in the marine environment across local to global scales. More explicit consideration of biological invasions can significantly alter spatial conservation priorities. Future conservation plans should explicitly account for biological invasions to optimize the selection of marine protected areas.
This study describes the biodiversity of benthic invertebrates on hard substrates in the Currais Marine Protected Area (Currais MPA), in the state of Paraná. The benthic community was sampled during 2012 to 2015, in winter and summer, at two islands and four groups of artificial reefs (ARs). Samples were collected along shallow (2-4 m) and deep (6-8 m) transects at the islands and ~18 m transects at the ARs. We also searched the literature to review all published records of benthic invertebrates on hard substrates in the Currais MPA. We recorded 176 taxa in the phyla Annelida (class Polychaeta), Arthropoda (class Maxillopoda, order Sessilia), Bryozoa, Cnidaria, Chordata (class Ascidiacea), Echinodermata, Mollusca and Porifera, in 13 classes, 40 orders and 75 families. With these 102 new records, our list comprises 58% of all recorded species. Of these, 58 taxa were first records for the state of Paraná. This remarkable number of new records highlights that biodiversity studies are lacking in Paraná. Fifteen non-indigenous species and one endangered species, the sea star Coscinasterias tenuispina (Lamarck, 1816), are included. This is an important transitional area to monitor expansion or constriction of the latitudinal distributions of species, in the context of climate change, that may influence the geographical distribution of species (both native and invasive). This study is the first inventory of marine hard substrate habitats of the Currais MPA with a surprisingly diverse community.
The Paris Conference of Parties (COP21) agreement renewed momentum for action against climate change, creating the space for solutions for conservation of the ocean addressing two of its largest threats: climate change and ocean acidification (CCOA). Recent arguments that ocean policies disregard a mature conservation research field and that protected areas cannot address climate change may be oversimplistic at this time when dynamic solutions for the management of changing oceans are needed. We propose a novel approach, based on spatial meta-analysis of climate impact models, to improve the positioning of marine protected areas to limit CCOA impacts. We do this by estimating the vulnerability of ocean ecosystems to CCOA in a spatially explicit manner and then co-mapping human activities such as the placement of renewable energy developments and the distribution of marine protected areas. We test this approach in the NE Atlantic considering also how CCOA impacts the base of the food web which supports protected species, an aspect often neglected in conservation studies. We found that, in this case, current regional conservation plans protect areas with low ecosystem-level vulnerability to CCOA, but disregard how species may redistribute to new, suitable and productive habitats. Under current plans, these areas remain open to commercial extraction and other uses. Here, and worldwide, ocean conservation strategies under CCOA must recognize the long-term importance of these habitat refuges, and studies such as this one are needed to identify them. Protecting these areas creates adaptive, climate-ready and ecosystem-level policy options for conservation, suitable for changing oceans.