Divers have widely participated in citizen science (CS) projects and are one of the main groups of marine citizen scientists. However, there is little knowledge about profiles of, and incentives for potential divers to join CS projects. To date, most studies have focused on the SCUBA diving industry; nevertheless, there is a diversity of divers, not all using SCUBA, who engage in different activities during their dives. Differences in diver profiles could affect their willingness and ability to contribute to CS. In this study, we compare the diving profile, interests, preferences and motivations to participate in CS of five diver types (artisanal fishermen, recreational divers, instructors, scientific divers, and others). All divers have strong interests in participating in CS projects, with no major differences among diver types. In general, they are interested in a wide variety of themes related to CS but they prefer simple sampling protocols. Divers are motivated to participate in CS to learn about the sea and contribute to science. Some important differences among diver types were found, with artisanal fishermen having significantly more dive experience than other diver types, but less free time during their dives and limited access to some communication channels and technologies. These characteristics make them ideal partners to contribute their local ecological knowledge (LEK) to local CS projects. In contrast, recreational divers have the least experience but most free time during their dives and good access to cameras and communications channels, making them suitable partners for large-scale CS projects that do not require a high level of species knowledge. Instructors and scientific divers are well-placed to coordinate and supervise CS activities. The results confirm that divers are not all alike and specific considerations have to be taken into account to improve the contribution of each diver type to CS. The findings provide essential information for the design of different types of CS projects. By considering the relevant incentives and opportunities for diverse diver groups, marine CS projects will make efficient gains in volunteer recruitment, retention, and collaborative generation of knowledge about the marine environment.
Understanding and engaging the public is key for ensuring the success of government and industry initiatives aimed at addressing the problem of plastic waste. However, there has been little focus on documenting the general public’s attitudes towards plastics. This study examines public beliefs and attitudes towards plastics in Australia and provides insight on a global level. The research was conducted using an online survey of a nationally representative sample (2518 respondents). Overall, the survey results indicate that the public view plastics as a serious environmental issue. Plastic in the ocean had the highest mean rating for seriousness out of nine environmental issues, followed by two other issues relating to plastic waste production and disposal. Whilst there was an association of plastics with food packaging and convenience, there was more of a negative association with the use of plastic overall. Eighty percent of respondents indicated a desire to reduce plastic use and the majority of respondents believe that paper and glass are more environmentally friendly packaging materials than plastics. However, the results showed that many respondents do not translate their aspiration to reduce plastic use into action. Overall, while a majority of the Australian public are concerned about plastics as an environmental issue, they place the bulk of the responsibility for reducing the use of disposable plastic on industry and government.
This article reviews the state of coral reefs in French Pacific territories in the context of global change (especially threats linked to climate change). We first outline the specific local characteristics, vulnerabilities, and threats faced by the coral reefs of New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna. We also emphasize local and other human communities’ economic and cultural reliance on coral reefs. Secondly, we discuss the natural and anthropogenic threats facing coral reefs in French Pacific territories, and current ecological responses such as mitigation and adaptation strategies. We conclude by proposing socio-economic solutions for the Pacific region across varying scales, with a special focus on enforcement measures and socio-political issues.
Marine litter is a global, persistent, and increasing threat to the oceans, and numerous initiatives aim to address this challenge. Fishing For Litter (FFL) is a voluntary clean-up scheme, where litter is collected as part of routine fishing operations. We surveyed fishers (n = 97) and stakeholders (n = 22) in the UK to investigate perceptions of FFL, its strengths and weaknesses, and potential co-benefits of the scheme. Fishers reported being aware of and concerned about the negative impacts of litter. Overall, FFL was evaluated very positively (7.85/10). In addition, FFL fishers reported less environmentally harmful waste managementbehaviors both out at sea and in other contexts than did non-FFL fishers. Fishers and stakeholders listed strengths and weaknesses of the scheme and made suggestions for future changes. As well as directly helping to remove litter, this paper demonstrates that clean-up schemes can make a contribution to addressing the underlying causes of marine pollution.
We propose a fish detection system based on deep network architectures to robustly detect and count fish objects under a variety of benthic background and illumination conditions. The algorithm consists of an ensemble of Region-based Convolutional Neural Networks that are linked in a cascade structure by Long Short-Term Memory networks. The proposed network is efficiently trained as all components are jointly trained by backpropagation. We train and test our system for a dataset of 18 videos taken in the wild. In our dataset, there are around 20 to 100 fish objects per frame with many fish objects having small pixel areas (less than 900 square pixels). From a series of experiments and ablation tests, the proposed system preserves detection accuracy despite multi-scale distortions, cropping and varying background environments. We present analysis that shows how object localization accuracy is increased by an automatic correction mechanism in the deep network's cascaded ensemble structure. The correction mechanism rectifies any errors in the predictions as information progresses through the network cascade. Our findings in this experiment regarding ensemble system architectures can be generalized to other object detection applications.
Marine social-ecological systems are influenced by the way humans interact with their environment, and external forces, which change and re-shape the environment. In many regions, exploitation of marine resources and climate change are two of the primary drivers shifting the abundance and distribution of marine living resources, with negative effects on marine-dependent communities. Governance systems determine ‘who’ makes decisions, ‘what’ are their powers and responsibilities, and ‘how’ they are exercised. Understanding the connections between the actors comprising governance systems and influences between governance and the environment is therefore critical to support successful transitions to novel forms of governance required to deal with environmental changes. The paper provides an analytical framework with a practical example from Vanuatu, for mapping and assessment of the governance system providing for management of coral reef fish resources. The framework enables a rapid analysis of governance systems to identify factors that can encourage, or hinder, the adaptation of communities to changes in abundance or availability of marine resources.
Oxygen restricted conditions were widespread in European shelf seas after the end-Triassic mass extinction event and they are reported to have hindered the recovery of marine benthos. Here we reconstruct the redox history of the Early Jurassic Blue Lias Formation of southwest Britain using pyrite framboid size analysis and compare this with the recovery of bivalves based on field and museum collections. Results suggest widespread dysoxia punctuated by periods of anoxia in the region, with the latter developing frequently in deeper water settings. Despite these harsh conditions, initial benthic recovery occurred rapidly in the British Jurassic, especially in shallowest settings, and shows no relationship with the intensity of dysoxia. A stable diversity was reached by the first recognised ammonite zone after the end-Triassic mass extinction. This contrasts with the deeper-water, more oxygen-poor sections where the diversity increase was still continuing in the earliest Sinemurian Stage, considerably longer than previously reported. Similar recovery rates are seen amongst other groups (brachiopods and ammonites). Oxygen-poor conditions have been suggested to delay recovery after the Permo-Triassic mass extinction, but this is not the case after the end-Triassic crisis. We suggest that this was because the European dysoxia was only a regional phenomenon and there were plenty of well-ventilated regions available to allow an untrammelled bounce back.
For seventy years, mass plastic production and waste mismanagement have resulted in huge pollution of the environment, including the marine environment. The first mention of seafood contaminated by microplastics was recorded in the seventies, and to date numerous studies have been carried out on shellfish, fish and crustaceans. Based on an ad hoc corpus, the current review aims to report on the numerous practices and methodologies described so far. By examining multiple aspects including problems related to the definition of the term microplastic, contamination at the laboratory scale, sampling and isolation, and quantification and identification, the aim was to point out current limitations and the needs to improve and harmonise practices for future studies on microplastics in seafood. A final part is devoted to the minimum information for publication of microplastics studies (MIMS). Based on the aspects discussed, MIMS act as a starting point for harmonisation of analyses.
Natural ecosystems hold great place within the hearts and lives of people, particularly those within which people live and work. However, whether people equally value natural ecosystems that they regularly frequent is effectively unknown. Such knowledge would greatly assist natural resource managers to better understand what they are protecting, why and for whom. In this paper we look at the different values that people hold for different ecosystems within the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). We test the relationship between eight different cultural values (using ecosystem services framing), and the use of seven different ecosystems (beaches, creeks and estuaries, islands and cays, inshore reefs, mid-shelf and outer reefs, open water, and shipwrecks) from face-to-face surveys of 1934 residents living within the GBR. We also look at whether the relationships that people have with each ecosystem inspires them to; (i) do more to help protect the GBR, (ii) learn more about the GBR, and (iii) feel personally affected if the health of the GBR declines. Results suggest that there are common reasons why all ecosystems are valued. All seven ecosystems were valued because they provide identity, quality of life and well-being, and inspired people to do more to help protect the GBR. Many were valued for their desirable and active way of life, learning about the environment through scientific discoveries, and learning about the condition of the GBR. However, some ecosystems were valued for special reasons. People that used beaches tended to have more pride in the World Heritage Area status of the GBR and appreciated the aesthetics of the GBR. People that used the mid-shelf and open-water areas were more likely to value biodiversity and aesthetics qualities. People that used inshore reefs were more likely to value economic benefits from the GBR. All residents said that they would be personally affected if the health of the GBR declined, except for those that used beaches, creeks and estuaries. Levels of concern for each of the ecosystems within the GBR varied, where people were more concerned about inshore areas than they were about coral reef condition. Specifically, people were most concerned about the level of rubbish on the beaches in their region and least about mangroves. These results suggest that, even though the GBR is valued in its entirety for many reasons, the GBR is not perceived as an entire ecosystem, but that people have different relationships within it. We discuss how environmental sustainability might be optimised through understanding and incentivising the multi-functionality of landscapes.
Understanding changes in wave attenuation by emergent vegetation as wetlands degrade or accrete over time is crucial for incorporation of wetlands into holistic coastal risk management. Linked SLAMM and XBeach models were used to investigate potential future changes in wave attenuation over a 50-year period in a degrading, subtropical wetland and a prograding, temperate wetland. These contrasting systems also have differing management contexts and were contrasted to demonstrate how the linked models can provide management-relevant insights. Morphological development of wetlands for different scenarios of sea-level rise and accretion was simulated with SLAMM and then coupled with different vegetation characteristics to predict the influence on future wave attenuation using XBeach. The geomorphological context, subsidence, and accretion resulted in large predicted reductions in the extent of vegetated land (e.g., wetland) and changes in wave height reduction potential across the wetland. These were exacerbated by increases in sea-level from +0.217 m to +0.386 m over a 50-year period, especially at the lowest accretion rates in the degrading wetland. Mangrove vegetation increased wave attenuation within the degrading, subtropical, saline wetland, while grazing reduced wave attenuation in the temperate, prograding wetland. Coastal management decisions and actions, related to coastal vegetation type and structure, have the potential to change future wave attenuation at a spatial scale relevant to coastal protection planning. Therefore, a coastal management approach that includes disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, and climate change, can be informed by coastal modeling tools, such as those demonstrated here for two contrasting case studies.
The severely degraded condition of many coral reefs worldwide calls for active interventions to rehabilitate their physical and biological structure and function, in addition to effective management of fisheries and no‐take reserves. Rehabilitation efforts to stabilize reef substratum sufficiently to support coral growth have been limited in size. We documented a large coral reef rehabilitation in Indonesia aiming to restore ecosystem functions by increasing live coral cover on a reef severely damaged by blast fishing and coral mining. The project deployed small, modular, open structures to stabilize rubble and to support transplanted coral fragments. Between 2013 to 2015, approximately 11,000 structures covering 7,000 m2 were deployed over 2 ha of a reef at a cost of US$174,000. Live coral cover on the structures increased from less than 10% initially to greater than 60% depending on depth, deployment date and location, and disturbances. The mean live coral cover in the rehabilitation area in October 2017 was higher than reported for reefs in many other areas in the Coral Triangle, including marine protected areas, but lower than in the no‐take reference reef. At least 42 coral species were observed growing on the structures. Surprisingly, during the massive coral bleaching in other regions during the 2014–2016 El Niño–Southern Oscillation event, bleaching in the rehabilitation area was less than 5% cover despite warm water (≥30°C). This project demonstrates that coral rehabilitation is achievable over large scales where coral reefs have been severely damaged and are under continuous anthropogenic disturbances in warming waters.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are among the most widely accepted methods of marine management. MPAs are not, however, always placed such that they can maximize impact on conservation and livelihoods. Current MPA guidelines fall short in focusing primarily on biophysical criteria, overlooking interrelated socioeconomic factors. We identified 32 socioeconomic factors that influence whether MPA placement has an impact on biodiversity and/or livelihoods and weighted the quality of evidence using a novel “Evidence for Impact” Score. Results suggest that stakeholder engagement, poverty, population density, and strong leadership have most potential to positively impact biodiversity and/or livelihoods, but the direction of impact (i.e., positive or negative) can be context-dependent. We found a generally poor evidence base for impact evaluation of socioeconomic factors: though some factors were highly cited, few studies actually evaluate impact. Results indicate the need for a more interdisciplinary approach to MPA placement and more empirical studies that assess impact.
Although offshore wind energy development (OWED) offers a much-needed renewable energy alternative to fossil fuels, holistic and effective methods for evaluating environmental impacts on wildlife in both space and time have been lacking. The lengthy environmental compliance process, estimated to incur a 7–10 year permitting timeline , has been identified as a significant impediment to offshore energy development in U.S. waters. During operation, seabirds can collide and be displaced by turbines. During episodic pre-operation phases, cetaceans are most heavily impacted acoustically by pile driving (and similarly seismic air gun surveys for oil and gas exploration). The varying nature of impacts in space and time leads us to conclude that sites should be selected in space to minimize long-term operational impacts on seabirds, and timing of surveying and construction activities to be conducted in times of the year when sensitive migratory marine mammals are least present. We developed a novel spatiotemporal decision support framework that interactively visualizes tradeoffs between OWED industry profits and wildlife sensitivities, in both space and time. The framework highlights sites on a map that are the most profitable and least sensitive to seabirds. Within the U.S. Mid-Atlantic study area, the New York Call Areas are particularly well optimized for minimal impact on seabirds with maximal profits to OWED. For a given site, pre-operational activities (e.g. pile driving and seismic air gun surveying) are advised by cetacean sensitivity across months of the year that minimize impacts on migratory cetaceans, particularly those of highest conservation concern such as the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena Glacialis). For instance, within optimal sites for the New York Call Area the least impacting months are May and June. Other taxa are certainly affected by OWED and should be incorporated into this framework, but data on their distributions and/or sensitivities is currently less well known. Built with open-source software made publicly available, the authors hope this framework will be extended even more comprehensively into the future as our knowledge on species distributions and OWED sensitivities expands for streamlining environmental compliance.
In the Southern Ocean, the at‐sea distributions of most predators of Antarctic krill are poorly known, primarily because tracking studies have only been undertaken on a restricted set of species, and then only at a limited number of sites. For chinstrap penguins, one of the most abundant krill predators breeding across the Antarctic Peninsula, we show that habitat models developed utilizing the distance from the colony and the bearing to the shelf‐edge, adjusting for the at‐sea density of Pygoscelis penguins from other colonies, can be used to predict, with a high level of confidence, the at‐sea distribution of chinstrap penguins from untracked colonies during the breeding season. Comparison of predicted penguin distributions with outputs from a high‐resolution oceanographic model shows that chinstrap penguins prefer nearshore habitats, over shallow bathymetry, with slow‐flowing waters, but that they sometimes also travel to areas beyond the edge of the continental shelf where the faster‐flowing waters of the Coastal Current or the fronts of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current occur. In the slow‐moving shelf waters, large penguin colonies may lead to krill depletion during incubation and chick‐rearing periods when penguins are acting as central place foragers. The habitats used by chinstrap penguins are also locations preferentially used by the commercial krill fishery, one of the last under‐developed marine capture fisheries anywhere on the planet. As it develops, this fishery has the potential to compete with chinstrap penguins and other natural krill predators. Scaling our habitat models by chinstrap penguin population data demonstrates where overlap with the fishery is likely to be most important. Our results suggest that a better understanding of krill retention and krill depletion in areas used by natural predators and by the krill fishery are needed, and that risk management strategies for the fishery should include assessment of how krill movement can satisfy the demands of both natural predators and the fishery across a range of spatial and temporal scales. Such information will help regional management authorities better understand how plausible ecosystem‐based management frameworks could be developed to ensure sustainable co‐existence of the fishery and competing natural predators.
Monitoring marine protected areas requires simplifying complex marine ecosystems into a suite of indicators. The Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area (TN MPA), the first MPA in the Canadian Arctic is located in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT and is selecting indicators for monitoring. Proposed health indicators for the TN MPA species of interest, the Eastern Beaufort Sea (EBS) beluga, include the body condition metrics blubber thickness and girth. Sex-specific body condition models for both metrics were developed to account for age, size, location, and timing of harvest from belugas harvested from 2000 to 2015. Models were tested to determine if the spatial variation is detected in the condition of belugas between the three areas of the TN MPA and between belugas harvested inside to outside of the TN MPA. Lastly, we assessed belugas from entrapment events to determine if indicator thresholds could be developed. Three of the indicators (girth male, girth female, blubber thickness male) contain both temporal and spatial factors, signalling the significant influence of year and harvest location on condition. Male belugas harvested from the western area of the TN MPA had smaller mean blubber thickness and girth compared to the other TN MPA areas, whereas there was no significant difference in female condition across the TN MPA. There was a significant difference inside and outside the TN MPA for all four indicators, with larger mean blubber thickness inside the TN MPA, females exhibiting larger mean girth and males exhibiting smaller mean girth inside the TN MPA. Indicators confirm that belugas from entrapment events had significantly lower body condition than belugas harvested during the summer and can serve as thresholds for condition indicators. This study provides guidance on the selection and use of condition indicators for their application in monitoring the TN MPA and demonstrates that careful consideration is required for indicator development and selection.
Spatial planning increasingly incorporates theoretical predictions that artificial habitats assist species movement at or beyond range edges, yet evidence for this is uncommon. We conducted surveys of highly mobile fauna (fishes) on artificial habitats (reefs) on the southeastern USA continental shelf to test whether, in comparison to natural reefs, artificial reefs enhance local abundance and biomass of fishes at their poleward range margins. Here, we show that while temperate fishes were more abundant on natural reefs, tropical, and subtropical fishes exhibited higher abundances and biomasses on deep (25–35 m) artificial reefs. Further analyses reveal that this effect depended on feeding guilds because planktivorous and piscivorous but not herbivorous fishes were more abundant on artificial reefs. This is potentially due to heightened prey availability on and structural complexity of artificial reefs. Our findings demonstrate that artificial habitats can facilitate highly mobile species at range edges and suggest these habitats assist poleward species movement.
Important intertidal coastal habitats – particularly mangroves, saltmarshes and beaches – are particularly threatened by the impacts of climate change-driven sea-level rise. Coastal development and coastal armoring present physical barriers for the natural inland migration of coastal habitats, and changes in hydrological connectivity reduce sediment inputs and the potential for vertical accretion. We identify mechanisms and enabling conditions to accommodate migration of these habitats in Australia and the United States. A range of financial, policy, planning and on-the-ground management tools in both countries that already exist, often for a different purpose, can be implemented or modified to also enable inland habitat migration. Awareness of approaches/solutions can assist land managers and policy makers to accommodate migration of habitats as a necessary component of coastal management in an era of increasing rates of sea level rise.
This study synthesizes results from observations, laboratory experiments and models to showcase how the integration of scientific methods and indigenous knowledge can improve our understanding of (a) past and projected changes in environmental conditions and marine species; (b) their effects on social and ecological systems in the respective communities; and (c) support management and planning tools for climate change adaptation and mitigation. The study links climate-ecosystem-economic (CEE) models and discusses uncertainties within those tools. The example focuses on the key forage species in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (Western Canadian Arctic), i.e., Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida). Arctic cod can be trophically linked to sea-ice algae and pelagic primary producers and are key vectors for energy transfers from plankton to higher trophic levels (e.g., ringed seals, beluga), which are harvested by Inuit peoples. Fundamental changes in ice and ocean conditions in the region affect the marine ecosystem and fish habitat. Model simulations suggest increasing trends in oceanic phytoplankton and sea-ice algae with high interannual variability. The latter might be linked to interannual variations in Arctic cod abundance and mask trends in observations. CEE simulations incorporating physiological temperature limits data for the distribution of Arctic cod, result in an estimated 17% decrease in Arctic cod populations by the end of the century (high emission scenario), but suggest increases in abundance for other Arctic and sub-Arctic species. The Arctic cod decrease is largely caused by increased temperatures and constraints in northward migration, and could directly impact key subsistence species. Responses to acidification are still highly uncertain, but sensitivity simulations suggests an additional 1% decrease in Arctic cod populations due to pH impacts on growth and survival. Uncertainties remain with respect to detailed future changes, but general results are likely correct and in line with results from other approaches. To reduce uncertainties, higher resolution models with improved parameterizations and better understanding of the species' physiological limits are required. Arctic communities should be directly involved, receive tools and training to conduct local, unified research and food chain monitoring while decisions regarding commercial fisheries will need to be precautionary and adaptive in light of the existing uncertainties.
Long-lived species share life history traits such as slow growth, late maturity, and low fecundity, which lead to slow recovery rates and increase a population’s vulnerability to disturbance. The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) has recently been recognized as the world’s longest-lived vertebrate, but many questions regarding its biology, physiology, and ecology remain unanswered. Here we review how current and future research will fill knowledge gaps about the Greenland shark and provide an overall framework to guide research and management priorities for this species. Key advances include the potential for specialized aging techniques and demographic studies to shed light on the distribution and age-class structure of Greenland shark populations. Advances in population genetics and genomics will reveal key factors contributing to the Greenland shark’s extreme longevity, range and population size, and susceptibility to environmental change. New tagging technologies and improvements in experimental and analytical design will allow detailed monitoring of movement behaviors and interactions among Greenland sharks and other marine species, while shedding light on habitat use and susceptibility to fisheries interactions. Interdisciplinary approaches, such as the combined use of stable isotope analysis and high-tech data-logging devices (i.e., accelerometers and acoustic hydrophones) have the potential to improve knowledge of feeding strategies, predatory capabilities, and the trophic role of Greenland sharks. Measures of physiology, including estimation of metabolic rate, as well as heart rate and function, will advance our understanding of the causes and consequences of long lifespans. Determining the extent and effects of current threats (as well as potential mitigation measures) will assist the development of policies, recommendations, and actions relevant for the management of this potentially vulnerable species. Through an interdisciplinary lens, we propose innovative approaches to direct the future study of Greenland sharks and promote the consideration of longevity as an important factor in research on aquatic and terrestrial predators.
Ecological restoration of forests, meadows, reefs, or other foundational ecosystems during climate change depends on the discovery and use of individuals able to withstand future conditions. For coral reefs, climate-tolerant corals might not remain tolerant in different environments because of widespread environmental adjustment of coral physiology and symbionts. Here, we test if parent corals retain their heat tolerance in nursery settings, if simple proxies predict successful colonies, and if heat-tolerant corals suffer lower growth or survival in normal settings. Before the 2015 natural bleaching event in American Samoa, we set out 800 coral fragments from 80 colonies of four species selected by prior tests to have a range of intraspecific natural heat tolerance. After the event, nursery stock from heat-tolerant parents showed two to three times less bleaching across species than nursery stock from less tolerant parents. They also retained higher individual genetic diversity through the bleaching event than did less heat-tolerant corals. The three best proxies for thermal tolerance were response to experimental heat stress, location on the reef, and thermal microclimate. Molecular biomarkers were also predictive but were highly species specific. Colony genotype and symbiont genus played a similarly strong role in predicting bleaching. Combined, our results show that selecting for host and symbiont resilience produced a multispecies coral nursery that withstood multiple bleaching events, that proxies for thermal tolerance in restoration can work across species and be inexpensive, and that different coral clones within species reacted very differently to bleaching.