Municipalities are important actors in the field of local climate change adaptation. Stakeholders need scientifically sound information tailored to their needs to make local assessment of climate change effects. To provide tailored data to support municipal decision-making, climate scientists must know the state of municipal climate change adaptation, and the climate parameters relevant to decisions about such adaptation. The results of an empirical study in municipalities in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg in Southwestern Germany showed that adaptation is a relatively new topic, but one of increasing importance. Therefore, past weather events that caused problems in a municipality can be a starting point in adaptation considerations. Deduction of tailored climate parameters has shown that, for decisions on the implementation of specific adaptation measures, it also is necessary to have information on specific parameters not yet evaluated in climate model simulations. We recommend intensifying the professional exchange between climate scientists and stakeholders in collaborative projects with the dual goals of making practical adaptation experience and knowledge accessible to climate science, and providing municipalities with tailored information about climate change and its effects.
Case studies of the Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) highlighted factors influencing scientific communication that are contingent on the characteristics of the many dynamic and iterative science-policy interfaces among decision-makers, scientists, and other stakeholders. Direct observations of 15 scientific and management meetings coupled with interviews with 78 scientists and managers revealed aspects of the information pathways, i.e., production, communication, and use of scientific information in these organizations. Unique features of decision-making and information use enable the production of credible, relevant, and legitimate information in each organization, including trade-offs in these attributes to support fisheries governance objectives. For instance, defined processes for producing scientific advice embedded in fisheries management authorities, such as DFO and NAFO, ensure uptake of information in decision-making. As a boundary organization, FAO bridges science and policy-making groups among its member countries. The demand for scientific advice, policy development, and trade aspects are primary drivers in the information pathways. However, organizational aspects such as dispersed units and inadequate communication persist as barriers to information flow. Across the geographic scales of the three organizations, stakeholders apart from government scientists and policy-makers, e.g., the fishing industry, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the public, are increasingly involved in the information pathways. Insights about the information pathways can equip the organizations to evaluate or modify practices to increase the uptake of information in decision-making as fisheries management issues and considerations become more complex.
Effective coastal conservation requires a better understanding of how human activities on land may directly and indirectly affect adjacent marine communities. However, the relationship between terrestrial and marine systems has rarely been considered in terrestrial and marine reserve design. Seagrasses are affected by land-based activities due to their proximity to terrestrial systems and sensitivity to fluxes of terrestrially-derived organic and inorganic material. Our study examines how land use patterns adjacent to seagrass meadows influence the ecological integrity of seagrass using a suite of seagrass condition metrics on a landscape level across the Philippine archipelago. Using canonical correlation analysis, we measured the association between environmental variables (land use and seagrass abiotic conditions) with biotic variables (seagrass species richness and abundance). Terrestrial protection adjacent to seagrass meadows, defined as the absence of various anthropogenic land use perturbations, had significant positive effects on seagrass condition. The watershed area, and area of farmland and human development, had the most negative effect on seagrass condition. Using analysis of covariance and regression, we examined how marine protected area (MPA) establishment, size, and age, affected seagrass biotic conditions while holding environmental conditions constant. The relationship between biological and environmental canonical factors did not vary as a function of an MPA. This study provides evidence that land use is more important than marine protection for tropical seagrass condition. Our results demonstrate the complementary connection between land and sea, justifying the ‘ridge-to-reef’ approach in coastal conservation. Proper management of seagrasses should account for stewardship of the adjacent watersheds.
Marine protected areas are being implemented at an accelerating pace, and hold promise for restoring damaged ecosystems. But glaring shortfalls in staffing and funding often lead to suboptimal outcomes.
Behavioural ecology is an evolutionary-based discipline that attempts to predict how animals will behave in a given set of environmental circumstances and how those behavioural decisions will impact population growth and community structure. Given the rapidly changing state of the ocean environment it seems that this approach should be a beneficial tool for marine conservation, but its promise has not been fully realized. Since many conservation issues involve alterations to an animal’s habitat, I focus on how habitat selection models developed by behavioural ecologists may be useful in thinking about these sorts of problems, and mitigating them. I then briefly consider some other potential applications of behavioural ecology to marine conservation. Finally, I emphasize that the strength of a functional approach like behavioural ecology is that it allows predictions, from first principles, of responses to environmental changes outside the range of conditions already experienced and studied, and its models may be broadly generalizable across species and ecosystems.
This study investigated the effectiveness of mangrove planting initiatives in Sri Lanka. All the lagoons and estuaries in Sri Lanka were included in the study. We documented all agencies and locations, involved in mangrove planting efforts, along with the major drivers of these planting initiatives, their extents, and the possible causes of the success or failure of planting. An adapted three-step framework and a field survey consisting of vegetation and soil surveys and questionnaires were used to evaluate the objectives. We found that about 1,000–1,200 ha of mangroves, representing 23 project sites with 67 planting efforts, have been under restoration with the participation of several governmental and nongovernmental organizations. However, about 200–220 ha showed successful mangrove restoration. Nine out of 23 project sites (i.e. 36/67 planting efforts) showed no surviving plants. The level of survival of the restoration project sites ranged from 0 to 78% and only three sites, that is, Kalpitiya, Pambala, and Negombo, showed a level of survival higher than 50%. Survival rates were significantly correlated with post-care. Planting mangrove seedlings at the incorrect topography often entails inappropriate soil conditions for mangroves. Survival rates showed significant correlations with a range of soil parameters except soil pH. Disturbance and stress caused by cattle trampling, browsing, algal accumulation, and insect attacks, factors that may themselves relate to choosing sites with inappropriate topography and hydrology, were common to most sites. The findings are a stark illustration of the frequent mismatch between the purported aims of restoration initiatives and the realities on the ground.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) should assist managers in guiding human activities toward sustainable practices and in minimizing user conflicts in our oceans. A necessary first step is to quantify spatial patterns of marine assemblages in order to understand the ecosystem's structure, function, and services. However, the large spatial scale, high economic value, and density of human activities in nearshore habitats often makes quantifying this component of marine ecosystems especially daunting. To address this challenge, we developed an assessment method that employs abiotic proxies to rapidly characterize marine assemblages in nearshore benthic environments with relatively high resolution. We evaluated this assessment method along 300 km of the State of Maine's coastal shelf (<100 m depth), a zone where high densities of buoyed lobster traps typically preclude extensive surveys by towed sampling gear (i.e., otter trawls). During the summer months of 2010–2013, we implemented a stratified-random survey using a small remotely operated vehicle that allowed us to work around lobster buoys and to quantify all benthic megafauna to species. Stratifying by substrate, depth, and coastal water masses, we found that abiotic variables explained a significant portion of variance (37–59%) in benthic species composition, diversity, biomass, and economic value. Generally, the density, diversity, and biomass of assemblages significantly increased with the substrate complexity (i.e., from sand-mud to ledge). The diversity, biomass, and economic value of assemblages also decreased significantly with increasing depth. Last, demersal fish densities, sessile invertebrate densities, species diversity, and assemblage biomass increased from east to west, while the abundance of mobile invertebrates and economic value decreased, corresponding mainly to the contrasting water mass characteristics of the Maine Coastal Current system (i.e., summertime current direction, speed, and temperature). Integrating modeled predictions with existing GIS layers for abiotic conditions allowed us to scale up important assemblage attributes to define key foundational ecological principles of MSP and to find priority regions where some bottom-disturbing activities would have minimal impact to benthic assemblages. We conclude that abiotic proxies can be strong forcing functions for the assembly of marine communities and therefore useful tools for spatial extrapolations of marine assemblages in congested (heavily used) nearshore habitats.
Most animal eyes feature an opaque pigmented eyecup to assure that light can enter from one direction only. We challenge this dogma by describing a previously unknown form of eyeshine resulting from light that enters the eye through the top of the head and optic nerve, eventually emanating through the pupil as a narrow beam: the Optic-Nerve-Transmitted (ONT) eyeshine. We characterize ONT eyeshine in the triplefin blenny Tripterygion delaisi (Tripterygiidae) in comparison to three other teleost species, using behavioural and anatomical observations, spectrophotometry, histology, and magnetic resonance imaging. The study’s aim is to identify the factors that determine ONT eyeshine occurrence and intensity, and whether these are specifically adapted for that purpose.
ONT eyeshine intensity benefits from locally reduced head pigmentation, a thin skull, the gap between eyes and forebrain, the potential light-guiding properties of the optic nerve, and, most importantly, a short distance between the head surface and the optic nerves.
The generality of these factors and the lack of specifically adapted features implies that ONT eyeshine is widespread among small fish species. Nevertheless, its intensity varies considerably, depending on the specific combination and varying expression of common anatomical features. We discuss whether ONT eyeshine might affect visual performance, and speculate about possible functions such as predator detection, camouflage, and intraspecific communication.
There is international recognition for greater inclusion of recreational fisheries catch data in species, fisheries and ecosystem assessments. Recreational charter fisheries provide important social services and contribute to total species catches. This study compares and validates industry logbook catch and effort data (1,357 trips) against observer data (154 trips) across six ports in a recreational charter fishery in eastern Australia. The mean numbers of clients and fishing effort (hours) per trip varied inconsistently between data sources and among ports. Logbooks did not adequately report released catches, and the mean number of species retained per trip was consistently underestimated in logbooks compared to observer data. For both data sources, catch rates of total individuals and key species displayed similar trends across different units of effort; catch per hour, client, client/hour and trip. The mean catch rates of total individuals and most key species, except those retained for bait, were similar across data sources, as were estimates of total fleet harvests. The length compositions of retained catches of some key species displayed truncation of larger organisms in the observer data whereas other species did not. Despite the shortcomings of the logbook data, future fishery and species monitoring strategies could include industry and observer data sources.
Wetlands are commonly assessed for ecological condition and biological integrity using a three-tiered framework of landscape-scale assessment, rapid assessment protocols, and intensive biological and physiochemical measurements. However, increased inundation resulting from accelerated sea level rise (SLR) is negatively impacting tidal marsh ecosystem functions for US Northeast coastal wetlands, yet relative vulnerability to this stressor is not incorporated in condition assessments. This article assesses tools available to measure coastal wetland vulnerability to SLR, including measurements made as part of traditional rapid condition assessments (e.g., vegetation communities, soil strength), field and remote sensing-based measurements of elevation, VDatum, and Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) model outputs. A vulnerability metric that incorporates these tools was calibrated and validated using recent rates of marsh vegetation losses (1972–2011) as a surrogate for future vulnerability. The metric includes complementary measures of elevation capital, including the percentage of high vs. low marsh vegetation, Spartina alterniflora height, elevation measurements, and SLAMM outputs that collectively explained 62% of the variability in recent rates of marsh vegetation loss. Stepwise regression revealed that all three elements (elevation, vegetation measures, and SLAMM outputs) explained significant and largely unique components of vulnerability to SLR, with the greatest level of overlap found between SLAMM outputs and elevation metrics. While soil strength varied predictably with habitat zone, it did not contribute significantly to the vulnerability metric. Despite the importance of determining wetland elevation above key tidal datums of mean sea level and mean high water, we caution that VDatum was found to perform poorly in back-barrier estuaries. This factor makes it difficult to compare elevation capital among marshes that differ in tidal range and poses accuracy problems for broad-scale modeling efforts that require accurate tidal datums. Given the pervasive pattern of coastal wetland drowning occurring in the Northeastern USA and elsewhere, we advocate that compilation of regional data on marsh habitats and vulnerability to SLR is crucial as it permits agencies to target adaptation to sites based on their vulnerability or mixture of habitats, it helps match sites to appropriate interventions, and it provides a broader regional context to site-specific management actions. Without such data, adaptation actions may be implemented where action is not necessary and to the disadvantage of vulnerable sites where opportunities for successful adaptation will be missed.