Papers, Publications, Books and Book chapters

Copy (pdf) of all the team publications
Valuing ecosystem services from blue forests: A systematic review of the valuation of salt marshes, sea grass beds and mangrove forests

Coastal ecosystems provide a number of life-sustaining services, from which benefits to humans can be derived. They are often inhabited by aquatic vegetation, such as mangroves, sea grasses and salt marshes. Given their wide geographic distribution and coverage, there is need to prioritize conservation efforts. An understanding of the human importance of these ecosystems can help with that prioritization. Here, we summarize a literature review of ecosystem service valuation studies. We discuss (1) the degree to which current valuation information is sufficient to prioritize blue carbon habitat conservation and restoration, (2) the relevancy of available studies, and (3) what is missing from the literature that would be needed to effectively prioritize conservation. Given the recent focus on blue carbon ecosystems in the international conservation, there are a number of areas where research on blue forest ecosystem assessment and valuation could be improved, from enhancing available methodologies to increasing valuation of rarely studied ecosystem services and wider geographic coverage of valuation studies. This review highlights these gaps and calls for a focus on broadening the ecosystem services that are valued, the methods used, and increasing valuation in underrepresented regions.

Multiple Stressors and Ecological Complexity Require a New Approach to Coral Reef Research

Ocean acidification, climate change, and other environmental stressors threaten coral reef ecosystems and the people who depend upon them. New science reveals that these multiple stressors interact and may affect a multitude of physiological and ecological processes in complex ways. The interaction of multiple stressors and ecological complexity may mean that the negative effects on coral reef ecosystems will happen sooner and be more severe than previously thought. Yet, most research on the effects of global change on coral reefs focus on one or few stressors and pathways or outcomes (e.g. bleaching). Based on a critical review of the literature, we call for a regionally targeted strategy of mesocosm-level research that addresses this complexity and provides more realistic projections about coral reef impacts in the face of global environmental change. We believe similar approaches are needed for other ecosystems that face global environmental change.

Linking ecosystem processes to communities of practice through commercially fished species in the Gulf of Alaska

Marine ecosystems are complex, and there is increasing recognition that environmental, ecological, and human systems are linked inextricably in coastal regions. The purpose of this article was to integrate environmental, ecological and human dimensions information important for fisheries management into a common analytical framework. We then used the framework to examine the linkages between these traditionally separate subject areas. We focused on synthesis of linkages between the Gulf of Alaska marine ecosystem and human communities of practice, defined as different fisheries sectors. Our specific objective was to document the individual directional linkages among environmental, ecological, and human dimensions variables in conceptual models, then build qualitative network models to perform simulation analyses to test how bottom-up and top-down perturbations might propagate through these linkages. We found that it is both possible and beneficial to integrate environmental, ecological, and human dimensions information important for fisheries into a common framework. First, the conceptual models allowed us to synthesize information across a broad array of data types, representing disciplines such as ecology and economics that are more commonly investigated separately, often with distinct methods. Second, the qualitative network analysis demonstrated how ecological signals can propagate to human communities, and how fishery management measures may influence the system. Third, we found that incorporating multi-species interactions changed outcomes because the merged model reversed some of the ecological and human outcomes compared with single species analyses. Overall, we demonstrated the value of linking information from the natural and social sciences to better understand complex social–ecological systems, and the value of incorporating ecosystem-level processes into a traditionally single species management framework. We advocate for conceptual and qualitative network modelling as efficient foundational steps to inform ecosystem-based fisheries management.

When ecosystems and their services are not co-located: oceans and coasts

Local, regional, and global policies to manage protect and restore our oceans and coasts call for the inclusion of ecosystem services (ES) in policy-relevant research. Marine and coastal ES and the associated benefits to humans are usually assessed, quantified, and mapped at the ecosystem level to inform policy and decision-making. Yet those benefits may reach humans beyond the provisioning ecosystem, at the re- gional or even global level. Current efforts to map ES generated by a single ecosystem rarely consider the distribution of benefits beyond the ecosystem itself, especially at the regional or global level. In this article, we elaborate on the concept of “extra-local” ES to refer to those ES generating benefits that are enjoyed far from the providing ecosystem, focusing on the marine environment. We emphasize the spatial dimen- sion of the different components of the ES provision framework and apply the proposed conceptual framework to food provision and climate regulation ES provided by marine and coastal ecosystems. We present the different extents of the mapping outputs generated by the ecosystem-based vs. the extra-local mapping approach and discuss practical and conceptual challenges of the approach. Lack of relevant ES mapping methodologies and lack of data appeared to be the most crucial bottlenecks in applying the extra-local approach for marine and coastal ES. We urge for more applications of the proposed framework that can improve marine and coastal ES assessments help fill in data gaps and generate more robust data. Such assessments could better inform marine and coastal policies, especially those linked to equal attri- bution of benefits, compensation schemes and poverty alleviation.

Shaping the future of marine socio-ecological systems research: when early-career researchers meet the seniors

As the environmental issues facing our planet change, scientific efforts need to inform the sustainable management of marine resources by adopting a socio-ecological systems approach. Taking the symposium on “Understanding marine socio-ecological systems: including the human dimension in Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (MSEAS)” as an opportunity we organized a workshop to foster the dialogue between early and advanced-career researchers and explore the conceptual and methodological challenges marine socio-ecological systems research faces. The discussions focused on: a) interdisciplinary research teams versus interdisciplinary scientists; b) idealism versus pragmatism on dealing with data and conceptual gaps; c) publishing interdisciplinary research. Another major discussion point was the speed at which governance regimes and institutional structures are changing and the role of researchers in keeping up with it. Irrespective of generation, training or nationality, all participants agreed on the need for multi-method approaches that encompass different social, political, ecological and institutional settings, account for complexity and communicate uncertainties. A shift is needed in the questions the marine socio-ecological scientific community addresses, which could happen by drawing on lessons learnt and experiences gained. These require in turn a change in education and training, accompanied by a change in research and educational infrastructures.

An indicator framework for assessing ecosystem services in support of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020

In the EU, the mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services, abbreviated to MAES, is seen as a key action for the advancement of biodiversity objectives, and also to inform the development and implementation of related policies on water, climate, agriculture, forest, marine and regional planning. In this study, we present the development of an analytical framework which ensures that consistent approaches are used throughout the EU. It is framed by a broad set of key policy questions and structured around a conceptual framework that links human societies and their well-being with the environment. Next, this framework is tested through four thematic pilot studies, including stakeholders and experts working at different scales and governance levels, which contributed indicators to assess the state of ecosystem services. Indicators were scored according to different criteria and assorted per ecosystem type and ecosystem services using the common international classification of ecosystem services (CICES) as typology. We concluded that there is potential to develop a first EU wide ecosystem assessment on the basis of existing data if they are combined in a creative way. However, substantial data gaps remain to be filled before a fully integrated and complete ecosystem assessment can be carried out.

Using Social Media to Measure the Contribution of Red List Species to the Nature-Based Tourism Potential of African Protected Areas

Cultural ecosystem services are defined by people’s perception of the environment, which make them hard to quantify systematically. Methods to describe cultural benefits from ecosystems typically include resource-demanding survey techniques, which are not suitable to assess cultural ecosystem services for large areas. In this paper we explore a method to quantify cultural benefits through the enjoyment of natured-based tourism, by assessing the potential tourism attractiveness of species for each protected area in Africa using the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. We use the number of pictures of wildlife posted on a photo sharing website as a proxy for charisma, popularity, and ease of observation, as these factors combined are assumed to determine how attractive species are for the global wildlife tourist. Based on photo counts of 2473 African animals and plants, species that seem most attractive to nature-based tourism are the Lion, African Elephant and Leopard. Combining the photo counts with species range data, African protected areas with the highest potential to attract wildlife tourists based on attractive species occurrence were Samburu National Reserve in Kenya, Mukogodo Forest Reserve located just north of Mount Kenya, and Addo Elephant National Park in South-Africa. The proposed method requires only three data sources which are freely accessible and available online, which could make the proposed index tractable for large scale quantitative ecosystem service assessments. The index directly links species presence to the tourism potential of protected areas, making the connection between nature and human benefits explicit, but excludes other important contributing factors for tourism, such as accessibility and safety. This social media based index provides a broad understanding of those species that are popular globally; in many cases these are not the species of highest conservation concern.

"The ecosystem services partnership visualisation tool" in Mapping Ecosystem Services

The Ecosystem Services Partnership Visualisation Tool (ESP-VT) is an online platform available through that systematically organises ES maps and makes them available for the ES community. The ESP-VT consists of: a) a database where all maps and metadata are stored and b) a map and data viewer which is the user interface. The database is structured using an adapted version of the ES mapping blueprint, developed in 2013 as a first attempt to create a checklist for ES maps and models. The database systematically organises the ES maps metadata and the contextual background of the ES maps (e.g. purpose of the study, focal biomes, ES mapped). The ES data are currently organised following the TEEB classifcation system (see Chapter 2.4). Within the map and data viewer, the users can: i) search the database for available ES maps and data; ii) view and access maps and associated metadata within the viewer and iii) download the maps or data of interest. Registered users can also upload their ES maps and associated metadata. Te latter are published online after a quality control check by the system administrator.

'Mapping marine and coastal ecosystem services' in 'Mapping Ecosystem Services'

To map Ecosystem Services (ES) provided by marine and coastal ecosystems similarly to the terrestrial ecosystems, one has to understand the process of ES provision, from the ecosystem components, functions and processes to the actual ES. For each component of the ES provision chain, data need to be acquired and quantification methods applied throughout. This information can be used to spatially represent the ES distribution. In the oceans and coastal seas, many ecosystem functions occur within the water column which adds a third spatial dimension to the system. These functions change with depth, water temperature, solar irradiance, salinity and other factors and are extremely variable in space and time. This makes it difficult to capture this information in two-dimensional maps.

'Applying ecosystem service mapping in marine areas' in 'Mapping Ecosystem Services'

Marine and coastal ES (MCES) mapping is still in its infancy (see Chapter 5.7.4) although several mapping studies have recently been undertaken. In most cases, these studies focus on mapping ES stocks and potential supply. However, in a few cases, it is has been attempted to associate marine ecosystems with the flow of benefts or the demand for them. Tis chapter explores the methods and data required to undertake a mapping exercise and how these vary depending upon the drivers of the mapping exercise, the scale of the study, the data available and the fnal use of the mapping by stakeholders.

Strike-alert: Towards real-time, high resoltion navigational software for whale avoidance

Over the past few years, it has been shown that collisions with ships have become one of the major threats for whales. In order to reduce whale-ship strikes, we have started to develop schemes for identifying areas where whales are likely to be present in order to produce maps updated in real time for ships. Our case study is set in the Mediterranean Sea and our goal is to gather all the data available to improve our knowledge on whale distribution using machine learning techniques. The wide variety of data sources (e.g. very high resolution sensors on-board satellites, acoustical measurements, satellite tagging, direct reports from commercial ships, and social media along with streaming earth observation data) and the use of real time and streaming data will allow the development of high precision, real time maps of the likelihood of whale encounters. Our work seeks to dramatically improve the marine spatial effort by moving beyond ecological/environmental models to harness the full array of data and machine learning techniques. The driving idea is not to just create models of where strikes are likely to be, but to develop high resolution maps of probability of whale encounters in real time using all available data sources.

Marine Ecosystem Services in Europe

Covering 71 % of the globe, the World Ocean is a complex ecosystem that provides essential services for the maintenance of life on Earth. More than 25 % of the CO 2 emitted annually by humans into the at-mosphere is absorbed by the ocean, and it is also the largest net supplier of oxygen in the world, playing an equally important role as forests. The ocean is therefore the principal “lung” of the planet and is at the center of the global climate system. Although the ocean continues to limit global warming, for several decades the pressure of human beings – principally CO2 emissions, over-exploitation of resources and pollution – has been degrading marine ecosystems. The role of the ocean in regulating the climate is likely to be disrupted. It is therefore urgent to maintain the functional quality of marine ecosystems and restore those that are deteriorating. The Ocean and Climate Platform was established from an alliance of non-governmental organizations and research institutes, with support from the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Today the Platform includes scientific organizations, universities, research institutions, non-profit associations, foundations, science centers, public institutions and business organizations, all acting to bring the ocean to the forefront in climate discussions.

Management strategies for coral reefs and people under global environmental change: 25 years of scientific research

Coral reef ecosystems and the people who depend on them are increasingly exposed to the adverse effects of global environmental change (GEC), including increases in sea-surface temperature and ocean acidification. Managers and decision-makers need a better understanding of the options available for action in the face of these changes. We refine a typology of actions developed by Gattuso et al. (2015) that could serve in prioritizing strategies to deal with the impacts of GEC on reefs and people. Using the typology we refined, we investigate the scientific effort devoted to four types of management strategies: mitigate, protect, repair, adapt that we tie to the components of the chain of impact they affect: ecological vulnerability or social vulnerability. A systematic literature review is used to investigate quantitatively how scientific effort over the past 25 years is responding to the challenge posed by GEC on coral reefs and to identify gaps in research. A growing literature has focused on these impacts and on management strategies to sustain coral reef social-ecological systems. We identify 767 peer reviewed articles published between 1990 and 2016 that address coral reef management in the context of GEC. The rate of publication of such studies has increased over the years, following the general trend in climate research. The literature focuses on protect strategies the most, followed by mitigate and adapt strategies, and finally repair strategies. Developed countries, particularly Australia and the United States, are over-represented as authors and locations of case studies across all types of management strategies. Authors affiliated in developed countries play a major role in investigating case studies across the globe. The majority of articles focus on only one of the four categories of actions. A gap analysis reveals three directions for future research: (1) more research is needed in South-East Asia and other developing countries where the impacts of GEC on coral reefs will be the greatest, (2) more scholarly effort should be devoted to understanding how adapt and repair strategies can deal with the impacts of GEC, and (3) the simultaneous assessment of multiple strategies is needed to understand trade-offs and synergies between actions.

Coral Reefs and People in a High-CO2 World: Where Can Science Make a Difference to People?

Reefs and People at Risk Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere put shallow, warm-water coral reef ecosystems, and the people who depend upon them at risk from two key global environmental stresses: 1) elevated sea surface temperature (that can cause coral bleaching and related mortality), and 2) ocean acidification. These global stressors: cannot be avoided by local management, compound local stressors, and hasten the loss of ecosystem services. Impacts to people will be most grave where a) human dependence on coral reef ecosystems is high, b) sea surface temperature reaches critical levels soonest, and c) ocean acidification levels are most severe. Where these elements align, swift action will be needed to protect people’s lives and livelihoods, but such action must be informed by data and science. An Indicator Approach Designing policies to offset potential harm to coral reef ecosystems and people requires a better understanding of where CO2-related global environmental stresses could cause the most severe impacts. Mapping indicators has been proposed as a way of combining natural and social science data to identify policy actions even when the needed science is relatively nascent. To identify where people are at risk and where more science is needed, we map indicators of biological, physical and social science factors to understand how human dependence on coral reef ecosystems will be affected by globally-driven threats to corals expected in a high-CO2 world. Western Mexico, Micronesia, Indonesia and parts of Australia have high human dependence and will likely face severe combined threats. As a region, Southeast Asia is particularly at risk. Many of the countries most dependent upon coral reef ecosystems are places for which we have the least robust data on ocean acidification. These areas require new data and interdisciplinary scientific research to help coral reef-dependent human communities better prepare for a high CO2 world.

Marine and coastal ecosystem services on the science–policy–practice nexus: challenges and opportunities from 11 European case studies

We compared and contrasted 11 European case studies to identify challenges and opportunities toward the operationalization of marine and coastal ecosystem service (MCES) assessments in Europe. This work is the output of a panel convened by the Marine Working Group of the Ecosystem Services Partnership in September 2016. The MCES assessments were used to (1) address multiple policy objectives simultaneously, (2) interpret EU-wide policies to smaller scales and (3) inform local decision-making. Most of the studies did inform decision makers, but only in a few cases, the outputs were applied or informed decision-making. Significant limitations among the 11 assessments were the absence of shared understanding of the ES concept, data and knowledge gaps, difficulties in accounting for marine social–ecological systems complexity and partial stakeholder involvement. The findings of the expert panel call for continuous involvement of MCES ‘end users’, integrated knowledge on marine social–ecological systems, defining thresholds to MCES use and raising awareness to the general public. Such improvements at the intersection of science, policy and practice are essential starting points toward building a stronger science foundation supporting management of European marine ecosystems.

Has the value of global marine and coastal ecosystem services changed?

In 1997, Robert Costanza and his colleagues published a groundbreaking study that estimated the monetary value of the contribution of the world's ecosystems to human wellbeing. The methods used were cited as preliminary and received considerable criticism. In two more recent peer-reviewed studies, the authors update the original estimates of ecosystem service value and find: (1) that original per area ecosystem service values were underestimated and (2) using these revised per area values, the total global value of ecosystem services has declined. Just under ninety-five percent of the estimated loss in ecosystem service value comes from revisions by the authors in the value estimates of marine ecosystem services. These revisions include additional per area value estimates of coral reefs and coastal wetlands that are many times the value of estimates used in the original analysis. The reasons cited by Costanza et al. for the increases in revised value estimates are examined and rejected. The data are found to be insufficient for a rigorous estimate of the global value of marine ecosystems services.

Signed Peer Reviews as a Means to Improve Scholarly Publishing

Peer review is a necessary process with a long history of complaints, including over-solicitation of a small number of reviewers, delays, inadequate numbers of reviewers, and a lack of incentives to provide strong reviews or avoid reviews with little helpful information for the author. In the era of Web-based distribution of research, through working paper or project reports, anonymous peer reviews are much less likely. The Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics will use signed peer reviews and an open communication process among authors, reviewers, and editors. This approach, to be developed over time, should lead to stronger communication of research results for the Journal's readers.

The Role of Non-Natural Capital in the Co-Production of Marine Ecosystem Services

A growing concern is arising to recognize that ecosystem services (ES) production often requires the integration of non-natural capital with natural capital in a process known as co- production. Several studies explore co-production in different terrestrial ecosystems, such as agriculture or water delivery, but less attention has been paid to marine ecosystems. Coastal activities such as aquaculture, shellfish harvesting, and small-scale fishing deliver important benefits for seafood provision, but are also inextricably linked to cultural and recreational ES. The degree to which co-production can determine the provision of ES in marine systems has yet not been explored. This paper addresses this key topic with an exploratory analysis of case studies where marine ES are co-produced. We look at five small-scale fisheries that range from intensive semi-aquaculture in Galicia (Spain), to wild harvesting in Northern Portugal, and discuss to what extent co-production influences ES delivery. We find that a direct relationship exists between co-production level and ES delivery in the case of provisioning ES (e.g., fish harvest), but not necessarily in the delivery of other ES. We also find that management practices and property regimes may be affecting trade-offs between co-production and ES.

Mangrove Ecosystem Service Values and Methodological Approaches to Valuation: Where Do We Stand?

Mangroves, seagrass meadows, and salt marshes, collectively termed “Blue Forests”, are counted among the most valuable and productive coastal ecosystems on the planet. A recent literature review of the Blue Forest valuation research identified mangroves as the most frequently analyzed of these ecosystems, yet the literature demonstrates several deficits in terms of geographic location of studies, methods used to value the services, and most notably, a lack of valuation for cultural services. To better understand this, we analyzed the studies dealing specifically with mangroves from the original literature review to quantify what has been valued, where, by which methods, and the variation in the published values. We then use this information to synthesize our current level of knowledge on the type and value of services provided by mangroves, discuss data gaps, and address specifically the collection of data relevant to cultural ecosystem services (CES). Our results shed light on two principle issues affecting the mangrove valuation literature: overuse of benefit transfer in valuing mangrove ecosystem services and a lack of attention paid to the CES that mangroves provide. The mangrove valuation literature is not yet robust, lacking estimates of many ecosystem services, including CES, such as spiritual and aesthetic value. Most published studies focus on a small selection of ecosystem services based on the availability of benefit transfer values and the ability to easily measure values with market prices. Thus, many ecosystem services that cannot be valued monetarily, but that are often equally important to local communities, are ignored. Given the wide range of ecosystem services mangroves provide and the variety of valuation methods that need to be collectively employed, we argue that doing valuation studies well requires a multi-disciplinary approach, bringing together anthropologists, social scientists, ecologists and economists. Thoughtfully and thoroughly including the local stakeholders in valuation studies and the resultant policy discussions leads to a more holistic understanding of the services mangroves provide, and viable solutions with an increase in local willingness to act in accordance with those solutions.