|Climate Change Will Shift Marine Predators’ Habitat: Larry Crowder (Program Adviser) and Barbara Block (’97)|
To manage marine ecosystems proactively, it is important to identify species at risk and habitats critical for conservation, according to Larry Crowder, science director of Stanford University’s Center for Ocean Solutions; Barbara Block, Prothro Professor of Marine Science at Stanford University; and colleagues in a paper published in the Sept. 23, 2012, issue of Nature Climate Change. The analysis took data compiled from tracking 4,300 open-ocean animals over a decade and looked at how predicted temperature changes would alter the areas they depend on for food and shelter. Some habitats could shift by as much as 600 miles, while others will remain largely unchanged.
To read the paper, Predicted Habitat Shifts of Pacific Top Predators in a Changing Climate, on the Nature website.
To read an article about the paper, Climate Change Will Shift Marine Predators' Habitat, Study Says, on the Washington Post website.
|Global Fisheries Are Declining but Can Still Recover: Steven Gaines (’03)|
Recent reports suggest that many well-assessed fisheries in developed countries are moving toward sustainability, according to Steven Gaines, dean of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and colleagues in a paper published Sept. 27, 2012, in the journal Science. The researchers found that small unassessed fisheries are in substantially worse condition than assessed fisheries, but that large unassessed fisheries may be performing nearly as well as their assessed counterparts. Both small and large stocks, however, continue to decline.
Read the paper, Status and Solutions for the World's Unassessed Fisheries, on the Science Mag website.
Read an article about the paper, Global Fisheries are Declining But Can Still Recover, Study Says, on the Washington Post website.
|Predicting Interactions Among Fishing, Ocean Warming, and Ocean Acidification in a Marine System with Whole-Ecosystem Models: Beth Fulton (’10)|
An important challenge for conservation is a quantitative understanding of how multiple human stressors will interact to diminish or exacerbate global environmental change at a community or ecosystem level, according to an article published by Beth Fulton, science leader at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and colleagues in the Sept. 25, 2012, issue of Conservation Biology. Researchers found that, individually, only ocean acidification had a negative effect on total biomass. Fishing and ocean warming, and ocean warming with ocean acidification, had an additive effect on biomass. Adding fishing to ocean warming and ocean acidification significantly changed the direction and magnitude of the interaction effect to a synergistic response on biomass.
Read the paper, Predicting Interactions among Fishing, Ocean Warming, and Ocean Acidification in a Marine System with Whole-Ecosystem Models, on the Wiley Online Library
|Deep Trouble for Deepwater Species: Claire Nouvian (’12)|
A new study reveals severe mismanagement of European deepwater stocks, according to an article in the Oct. 2, 2012, issue of the journal Ocean & Coastal Management. Claire Nouvian, founder of the nonprofit organization BLOOM, and coauthors analyzed scientific recommendations and total allowable catches concerning deep-sea fish stocks from 2002 to 2011. The study concludes that in 60 percent of cases, quotas for deep-sea species were higher than the value recommended by scientists and that the catch exceeded the quotas in 50 percent of cases.
Read the paper, Sustainability of Deep-Sea Fish Species Under the European Union Common Fisheries Policy, on the SciVerse website.
|White Shark Diets Show Surprising Variability: James Estes (’99)|
A new study by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), including Professor James Estes, shows surprising variability in the dietary preferences of individual white sharks. The researchers described their findings in a paper published online Sept. 28, 2012, in PLoS ONE. Sharks in the West Coast population consume a wide range of prey, including seals, sea lions, dolphins, fish and squid. But not every shark eats the same mix of prey, said co-author Paul Koch, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UCSC. “We confirmed that the diets of many individuals observed at seal and sea lion rookeries shift from fish to marine mammals as the sharks mature.”
Read the full article, White Shark Diets Show Surprising Variability, Vary With Age and Among Individuals, on the Science Daily website and read the paper Ontogenetic and Among-Individual Variation in Foraging Strategies of Northeast Pacific White Sharks Based on Stable Isotope Analysis, on the PLoS ONE website.
|Human Activity Detrimental to Coral Reefs: Tim McClanahan (’96)|
Human activities such as agriculture and urbanization can lead to the destruction of coral reefs and make their recovery and management difficult, according to research undertaken along the Kenyan coast. Overfishing and drainage from land—such as what occurs in Kenya’s marine parks—were significant contributors to coral reef degradation, according to a study by Tim McClanahan, senior conservation zoologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, and colleagues that was published in Marine Ecology Progress Series. The researchers measured the level of pollution in the reef and found that the rate at which the corals broke down, or bio-eroded, was directly related to the amount of pollution: The more pollution there was, the faster the corals broke down.
Read the full article, Human Activity Detrimental to Coral Reefs, Says Study, on the SciDev website.
Marine Protected Area Management Effectiveness: Progress and Lessons in the Philippines: Alan White (’01)
Quantifying progress in management of marine protected areas (MPAs) is crucial to marine conservation and ﬁsheries management in the Philippines, according to Alan White, senior scientist at the Nature Conservancy, and colleagues in an article published in the Sept. 10, 2012, issue of Coastal Management. This study compiled data on the status, occurrence, and management gaps of MPAs through coordination with multiple organizations supporting and guiding MPAs in the Philippines. Analysis indicated that most MPAs struggle with budgetary constraints or lack of sustainable ﬁnancing but that overall, the MPAs are experiencing notable improvement in management despite a variety of difﬁculties encountered during the implementation process.
To read the paper, Marine Protected Area Management Effectiveness: Progress and Lessons in the Philippines, on the Taylor & Francis Online website.
|Fish Getting Smaller as the Oceans Warm: Daniel Pauly (Program Adviser)|
Changes in ocean and climate systems could lead to smaller fish, according to a new study led by fisheries scientists at the University of British Columbia. Climate change is expected to raise ocean temperatures and could reduce oxygen in some areas, which would make it difficult for fish to grow. The study, published Sept. 30, 2012, in the journal Nature Climate Change, provides the first global projection of the potential reduction in the maximum size of fish in a warmer and less-oxygenated ocean.
Read the press release about the paper.
To read an article on the paper, Fish to Shrink By Up to a Quarter Due to Climate Change, Study Reveals, on the Washington Post website.
|Cusk (Brosme brosme) and Climate Change: Assessing the Threat to a Candidate Marine Fish Species Under the U.S. Endangered Species Act: Peter Auster (’99)|
In the northwest Atlantic Ocean, cusk (Brosme brosme) has declined dramatically, primarily as a result of ﬁshing activities, according to Peter Auster, senior research scientist at Mystic Aquarium, and colleagues in a paper published in the current issue of ICES Journal of Marine Science. These declines have led to concern about its status, which has prompted reviews under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Canadian Species at Risk Act. The goal of the study was to evaluate potential effects of climate change on northwest Atlantic cusk distribution. Results indicate that cusk habitat in the region will shrink and fragment, the result of a spatial mismatch between high-complexity seaﬂoor habitat and suitable temperature. More broadly, climate change may reduce appropriate thermal habitat and increase habitat fragmentation for other cold-water species in the region, thereby increasing the potential for regional overexploitation and extirpation.
Read the paper, Cusk (Brosme brosme) and climate change: assessing the threat to a candidate marine fish species under the US Endangered Species Act, on the ICES Journal of Marine Science website.
|How Sea Otters Can Reduce CO2 in the Atmosphere: Appetite for Sea Urchins Allows Kelp to Thrive: James Estes (’99)|
Can an abundance of sea otters help reverse a principal cause of global warming? A new study suggests that a thriving sea otter population that keeps sea urchins in check will in turn allow kelp forests to prosper. The spreading kelp can absorb as much as 12 times the amount of CO2 from the atmosphere than it would if it were subject to ravenous sea urchins, the study finds. The theory is outlined in a paper released online Sept. 7, 2012, in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment by James Estes, professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and colleagues.
Read the full article, How Sea Otters Can Reduce CO2 in the Atmosphere: Appetite for Sea Urchins Allows Kelp to Thrive, on the Science Daily website.
Read the full paper, Do Trophic Cascades Affect the Storage and Flux of Atmospheric Carbon? on the Ecological Society of America website.
|Exploring Trade-Offs Between Fisheries and Conservation of the Vaquita Porpoise (Phocoena sinus) Using an Atlantis Ecosystem Model: Elizabeth Fulton (’10)|
Minimizing fishery bycatch threats might involve trade-offs between maintaining viable populations and economic benefits. Understanding these trade-offs can help managers reconcile conflicting goals. An example is a set of bycatch reduction measures for the critically endangered vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus) in the northern Gulf of California, Mexico. The vaquita is an endemic species threatened with extinction by artisanal net bycatch within its limited range; in this area, fisheries are the chief source of economic productivity. In a paper published in the Aug. 15, 2012, issue of PLoS ONE, Elizabeth Fulton, a science leader at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and colleagues analyze trade-offs between vaquita conservation and fisheries. They found that only the most extensive spatial management scenarios would allow the vaquita population to recover above the threshold necessary to upgrade it from critically endangered. The authors conclude that extended spatial management would result in the highest recovery of the vaquita population. The analysis shows that managers will have to confront difficult trade-offs between management scenarios for vaquita conservation.
|The Global Contribution of Forage Fish to Marine Fisheries and Ecosystems: Ellen Pikitch(’00), Timothy Essington (’11), Daniel Pauly (Program Adviser), Rashid Sumaila(’08), P. Dee Boersma (’97), Philippe Cury (Program Adviser), Keith Sainsbury (Program Adviser), Robert Steneck (’98), and Stephan Munch(’12)|
Forage fish play a pivotal role in marine ecosystems and economies worldwide by sustaining many predators and fisheries directly and indirectly. In a paper published in the Sept. 5, 2012, issue of Fish and Fisheries, a team of scientists estimates global forage fish contributions to marine ecosystems through a synthesis of 72 published Ecopath models from around the world. The use and value of forage fish varied and exhibited patterns across latitudes and ecosystem types. Forage fish supported many kinds of predators, including fish, seabirds, marine mammals, and squid. Overall, forage fish contribute about US$16.9 billion to global fisheries values annually. Although the global catch value of forage fisheries was $5.6 billion, fisheries supported by forage fish were more than twice as valuable ($11.3 billion). These estimates provide important information for evaluating the trade-offs of various uses of forage fish across ecosystem types and latitudes as well as globally. The paper was written by members of and contributors to the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force. The findings are the same as the task force’s most recent report
Read the full paper, The Global Contribution of Forage Fish to Marine Fiseries and Ecosystems, on the Wilely Online Library website.
Phase Shift in an Estuarine Finﬁsh Community Associated With Warming Temperatures: Peter Auster (’99)
Peter Auster, a senior research scientist at Mystic Aquarium, examined finﬁsh abundance indices, produced from seasonal trawl survey data collected in Long Island Sound, for changes in community composition related to the dynamics of water temperature from 1984 to 2008. His results were published in the Aug. 13, 2012, issue of Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science. In general, seasonal mean catch of species identiﬁed a priori as cold adapted signiﬁcantly decreased while warm-adapted and subtropical species signiﬁcantly increased over the time series. Bottom water temperature also signiﬁcantly increased. Annual abundance of cold-adapted species as a group exhibited signiﬁcant negative correlation with mean bottom water temperatures while warm-adapted species, but not subtropical species, exhibited signiﬁcant positive correlation.
Read the paper, Phase Shift in an Estuarine Finfish Community Associated with Warming Temperatures, on the Taylor and Francis Online website.
|The Challenges of Evaluating Competition Among Marine Fishes: Who Cares, When Does it Matter, and What Can One Do About It?: Peter Auster (’99)|
“Among species interactions, competition is obviously more nuanced to investigate than predation,” write Peter Auster and a colleague in a paper published online recently in the Bulletin of Marine Science. The authors explored competition among marine fishes at broader spatiotemporal scales, scales at which fish populations are distributed, scales at which their associated fisheries operate and are managed, and as observed under ambient system dynamics. The main premise is that estimating and evaluating competition for marine fishes from extant, commonly available data is feasible, is highly germane, and has many valuable applications for multispecies and ecosystem models as we move toward ecosystem-based fisheries management.
Read the paper, The Challenges of Evaluating Competition Among Marine Fishes, on the Ingenta Connect website.
Fishing Industry Borrows from Natural Capital at High Shadow Interest Rates: Rainer Froese (’03)
Overfishing today means that stocks will produce fewer fish than possible in future years. The fish that were taken in excess of the sustainable rate can be viewed as a loan taken from the stock. The future loss in production can be viewed as the interest that has to be paid for the loan. A new study published recently in the journal Ecological Economics calculated the corresponding interest rates for 13 major European fish stocks and found them to range from 10 percent to 93 percent, depending on the degree of overfishing and thus the time needed to rebuild the stocks. These interest rates far exceed the rates the fishers would have to pay to a commercial bank for a loan equal to the value of the excess fish they have taken.
Read the paper, Fishing Industry Borrows from Natural Capital at High Shadow Interest Rates, on the SciVerse website.
|Disentangling Diversity Patterns in Sandy Beaches Along Environmental Gradients: Omar Defeo (’10)|
“Species richness in sandy beaches is strongly affected by concurrent variations in morphodynamics and salinity,” write Omar Defeo, a professor at the Universidad de la República, and colleagues in a paper published in the July 6, 2012, issue of PLoS ONE. In their study, the team analyzed macro-scale variations in species richness at 16 Uruguayan sandy beaches with different morphodynamics distributed along the estuarine gradient generated by the Rio de la Plata over a two-year period. Species richness was lowest at intermediate salinities and increased toward oceanic and inner estuarine conditions, mainly following the patterns shown for intertidal forms.
Read the paper, Disentangling Diversity Patterns in Sandy Beaches along Environmental Gradients, on the PLoS ONE website.
|Safeguarding the Blue Planet: Kristina Gjerde (’03), Dan Laffoley (Program Adviser), Laurence McCook (’05), and Callum Roberts (’00)|
The oceans are facing greater pressures now than at any other time in human history, according to a team of researchers in a recent issue of Parks. This paper details six strategies that can accelerate marine protected area (MPA) establishment and create resilient MPA management models around the world. These strategies can help ensure that the oceans are protected and well managed and provide livelihood benefits for humanity far into the future.
Read the full paper, Safeguarding the Blue Planet.
|Coral Scientists Use New Model to Find Where Corals Are Most Likely to Survive Climate Change: Tim McClanahan (’96), Andrew Baker (’08), and Peter Mumby (’10)|
Marine conservationists have identified heat-tolerant coral species living in locations with continuous background temperature variability as those having the best chance of surviving climate change, according to a new simplified method for measuring coral reef resilience. Therefore, coral reefs with these characteristics should receive immediate attention for conserving this highly threatened ecosystem, according to the authors of a study appearing in the Aug. 29, 2012, issue of PLoS ONE.
Read the paper, Prioritizing Key Resilience Indicators to Support Coral Reef Management in a Changing Climate, on the PLoS ONE website.
Hundreds of Coral Species Have Four Main Ways to Make a Living: Tim McClanahan (’96)
According to a recently published study, the immense diversity of coral species can be simplified to four main ways of making a living. The findings were published in a recent issue of the journal Ecology Letters by an international team of scientists, including Tim McClanahan, who compiled existing information on how corals grow and reproduce and found that these important reef architects have evolved four similar lifestyles despite their widespread distribution throughout the tropics. “We hope that understanding and reducing the complexity of coral life-histories can help scientists, managers, and stakeholders make better predictions about how their reefs will fare in the face of climate change, overfishing, and other human disturbances,” the team said.
Read the paper, Evaluating Life-History Strategies of Reef Corals from Species Traits, on the Wiley Online Library website.
A New Species of Reef Coral From Indonesia: Mark Erdmann (’04)
Euphyllia baliensis sp. nov. (Hexacorallia: Scleractinia: Euphylliidae) is described from 10 specimens from Bali, Indonesia, in a paper published by Mark Erdmann, senior adviser to Conservation
International’s Indonesian Marine Program, in the Aug. 14, 2012, issue of Zootaxa. The species has not been reported from any other locality to date.
Read the full paper, A New Species of Reef Coral from Indonesia.
|Eco-Label Conveys Reliable Information on Fish Stock Health to Seafood Consumers: Omar Defeo (’10), Timothy Essington (’11), and Keith Sainsbury (Program Adviser)|
Concerns over fishing impacts on marine populations and ecosystems have intensified the need to improve ocean management, according to an article published in the Aug. 12, 2012, issue of PLoS ONE. To conduct a comprehensive analysis of the performance of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified fish stocks, researchers compared status and abundance trends of 45 certified stocks with those of 179 uncertified stocks. They found that 74 percent of certified fisheries were above biomass levels that would produce maximum sustainable yield, compared with only 44 percent of uncertified fisheries. On average, the biomass of certified stocks increased by 46 percent over the past 10 years, whereas uncertified fisheries increased by just 9 percent. As part of the MSC process, fisheries initially go through a confidential pre-assessment process. When certified fisheries are compared with those that decline to pursue full certification after pre-assessment, certified stocks had much lower mean exploitation rates, allowing for more sustainable harvesting and in many cases biomass rebuilding. From a consumer’s point of view, this means that MSC-certified seafood is 3 to 5 times less likely to be subject to harmful fishing than uncertified seafood.
Read the paper, Eco-Label Conveys Reliable Information on Fish Stock Health to Seafood Consumers, on the PLoS ONE website.