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Emerging European legislation is changing the scope of water management from the local scale to basin scale. The focus is shifting from sectoral, issue-by-issue management to the protection of aquatic ecosystems, as well as the terrestrial ecosystems and wetlands linked to them. There has also been a movement from addressing problems in isolation on land, in freshwaters, in estuaries or the coastal zone, to integrating these zones, and extending the ecosystem approach to whole shelf areas. Ecosystem protection will thus affect how many human activities are regulated and managed in coastal and port areas, but legislation is also designed to balance these ecosystem objectives with socioeconomic needs and goals. Sustainable protection of ecosystems requires an expansion of traditional ecological risk assessment methods, in order to address multiple risk drivers on multiple spatial and temporal scales.
Transform information
into actio n
Conceptual frameworks to
balance ecosystem and
security goals
Sabine E. Apitz
SEA Environmental Decisions, Ltd.
*1 South Cottages, The Ford; Little Hadham, Herts, SG11 2AT, UK; +44 (0)1279 771890;
Institute of Water and Environment
Cranfield University, UK
European management of human impact in marine waters:
regulation is becoming less sectoral, but more complex
Shellfish waters UWWTD
1970 1980 2000
Physical & Chemical
Habitats &
Marine Strategy
adapted from Ruth Parker
EU ecosystem-based policy will result in an ecosystem-based
management of the environment from land to the open sea, but coasts
and estuaries are regions of overlap for policy
Proposed Marine
Commission Marine
99? (c)
Integrated Coastal
Zone Management
Water Framework
only in the
Habitats Directive
Open SeaCoastalEstuaries (b)FreshwaterLand
Environmental Focus of the Directive
Recent or
Directives (a)
Apitz SE, Elliot M, Fountain M, Galloway T. 2006. European Environmental Management: Moving to an
Ecosystem Approach. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management: 2:80-86 .
Sustainable ecosystem protection
Ecosystem protection affects how human activities are
regulated and managed in coastal and port areas
Legislation will also balance ecosystem objectives with
socioeconomic needs and goals.
If environmental security “involves actions that guard
against environmental degradation in order to
preserve or protect human, material, and natural
resources at scales ranging from global to local” then
the above is environmental security
However, these systems do not address the “security”
issues that are the focus here
As environmental security grows as a field, it is being
addressed separately from other environmental issues, and in
a very sectoral manner
Shellfish waters UWWTD
1970 1980 2000
Physical & Chemical
Habitats &
Environmental Security?
Marine Strategy
adapted from Ruth Parker
Can we expand the paradigms?
Current means that rare but dramatic events (such as terrorist
attacks and extreme storms) are not addressed in the same
frameworks as the more mundane issues such as contaminant
control and habitat degradation
On can argue that an over-emphasis on human-induced rare
events can cause a mis-allocation of resources, as many
natural disasters are historically more damaging
There is a need to develop decision frameworks in which these
seemingly disparate issues are addressed together in support
of regional budgeting, decision making, communication and
Sustainable protection of infrastructure and ecosystems
requires an expansion of traditional ERA, to address multiple
risk drivers on multiple spatial and temporal scales
Definition of objectives
A common problem in decision making is that decision makers
are unclear as to what their objectives are
For the many-headed hydra of environmental security, the
process should begin with the definition of some objectives,
and, most likely, the development of potential scenarios.
¾Are we protecting against everything?
¾At what spatial and temporal scale?
¾What is controllable, what is not?
¾Are we developing preventions, tracking changes, selecting
All of these may be necessary to provide environmental
security, but unless they are clearly separated in a decision
hierarchy, they will get muddled.
Clarity about decisions
For the many-headed hydra of environmental security, the
process should begin with the definition of some objectives,
and, most likely, the development of potential scenarios
¾Are we protecting against everything?
¾At what spatial and temporal scale?
¾What is controllable, what is not?
¾Are we developing preventions, tracking changes, selecting
All of these may be necessary to provide environmental
security, but unless they are clearly separated in a decision
hierarchy, they will get muddled
¾Vulnerabilities or risks must be identified, characterized and
¾Decisions are based upon scenario probability,
preventability, causality (human-caused or natural), time
scale (gradual or sudden), and potential costs and risks
¾Prevention strategies and response strategies (whether a
scenario is unpreventable or if prevention fails) must be
Types of Risks - Natural/manmade gradual impacts
Maintenance of resources (clean water, land, property, trees,
crop viability) in the face of environmental changes such as
global warming, sea level rise, build up of contaminants, etc.,
¾Erode both environmental and economic sustainability over
¾Fundamentally man-made, but gradual and inexorable.
¾Decisions may involve trying to prevent or remediate the
problems, or trying to protect resources in the face of
¾Governments need to plan for both prevention and
response, and maybe prepare to protect limited resources
from invasion/threat.
¾These are extensive, press, pressures.
Type of risks - Natural catastrophic impacts
The results of natural disasters.
¾Must determine the likelihood of a number of relatively
predictable events such as major storms, earthquakes, etc.,
and protect against impacts such as dam break, chemical
spills, explosions, etc.
¾Scenario development is straightforward, probabilities of the
natural disasters are matched to impacts of potential
scenarios, and then prevention technologies and their costs
are considered.
¾For the most unlikely scenarios, prevention may not be a
choice, but response contingencies should be considered.
¾Chemical plants might be moved away from storm tracks or
faults, but still be built.
¾These are pulse pressures, and can be localised or
Types of risks - Man-made catastrophic
Terrorist attacks, etc.
¾More difficult to predict when compared to storms,
etc., as people can contrive to achieve improbable
¾Focus is more on identifying vulnerabilities and then
figuring out how to prevent them or respond to them
¾The concern is either detection of bombs/ people or
barriers, but simply moving something out of a
storm track, etc., won’t protect it.
¾This category is not too different from the above
category, but it may involve an entirely different set
of detection/prevention tools.
¾Pulse pressures, and can be localized or extensive
Risk types, criteria and examples (WBGU 1999, p. 11)
Type 1 probability low (towards 0); nuclear energy, chemical plants,
Sword of Damocles damagehigh (towards infinite); dams, meteorite impacts
confidence intervals of p and d low
Type 2 probability uncertain floods, earthquakes, volcanic
Cyclops damage high; eruptions, AIDS, El Nino, mass
confidence interval of p high; developments of anthropogenicly
confidence interval of d rather low affected species
Type 3 probability uncertain increasing greenhouse effect,
Pythia damage uncertain (potentially high); endocrine effective substances,
confidence intervals of p and d high; release and spread of transgene
plants, BSE
Type 4 probability uncertain;
Pandora‘s box damage uncertain (only presumptions); ozone destroying substances
confidence intervals of p and d uncertain
persistency high (several generations)
Type 5 probability rather high anthropogenic climate change
Cassandra; damage rather high; for vulnerable areas
confidence interval of p rather high;
confidence interval of d rather low;
delay effect high
Type 6 probability rather low electromagnetic fields
Medusa damage rather low (exposition high);
confidence interval of p rather high;
confidence interval of d rather low;
potential of mobilization high
How we assess, manage and communicate risk depends upon the type of risk it is
From the German Council on Global Environmental Change
Management Risk class Extent of
Strategies for action
Science-based Damocles High Low •Reducing disaster
Cyclops High Uncertain •Ascertaining probability
Precautionary Pythia Uncertain Uncertain •Implementing
Pandora Uncertain Uncertain •Developin
•Reduction and
Discursive Cassandra High High •Consciousness building
Medusa Low Low •Confidence buildin
•Public participation
•Risk communication
adapted from WBGU 1999
Is it preventable/
can we afford to
prevent it?
Avoidance measures
restoration measures
Did event happen
Preparedness measures
Depending on the probability and cost of a risk, emphases will be put on different measures
not yet
Risk Ranking / Assessment
Information Gathering/ Gap Analysis
Prevention Management Response Management
Comparative Assessment
Information Gathering / Gap Analysis
Hazard Assessment
Decision Implementation
Action Evaluation / Gap Analysis
Criteria Development
Remedy Option Analysis
Protective Measures Analysis
Tools Tools
Criteria Selection
Criteria Selection
Planning Phase
Action Phase Stakeholder Input
Stakeholder Input
Stakeholder Input
Stakeholder Input
Scenario Development Scenario Development
Human (socio/pol)
Health and safety
Environmental assessment is only one part of the
decision process
Various types of
inform each step
in the decision
process – from
basin scale to
The cyclic nature
of this process
reveals the
opportunities for
from Apitz and White, 2003
So, how do we balance these
disparate kinds of risks in a
decision framework?
Brief overview of emerging
tools in support of ecosystem-
based management, which
can be adapted for security
For Venice Lagoon, a conceptual diagram lays out potential
impacts to a more complex web of receptors – note that both
natural and anthropogenic drivers are considered
To address ecosystem or security risks, many activities must be considered together in
a region from WWF (2004)
from WWF (2004)
52°N 52°N
53°N 53°N
54°N 54°N
55°N 55°N
Ves sel D ensity
Beam trawling effort
Aldridge et al., submitted ECSS
Natural and human disturbance must be considered together
Beam trawling effort
Natural disturbance
-Peak bed stress (Nm-2)
-% activity
Aldridge et al., submitted ECSS
Natural and human disturbance comparison
Beam trawling effort
Natural disturbance
-Peak bed stress (Nm-2)
-% activity
Rate of reworking
- turnover
Aldridge et al., submitted ECSS
Human activities can be assigned to areas where they don’t
overwhelm natural processes
CEFAS uses the DPSIR approach for the assessment of the impacts of seabed
disturbance, balancing natural and human disturbance
Detailed models (using by site-specific assessments and research) inform the
links between boxes adapted from Ruth Parker
The composite impact of various disturbance types can be
combined in common units to generate disturbance indices
Parker R, Aldridge J, Eastwood P, Houghton C, Mills C, Kershaw. P. 2004. The Ecosystem Effects of Sediment Disturbance: Development and
application of a GIS based disturbance impact assessment tool. Lowestoft, UK: The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science
(CEFAS). Report nr AE1224. 48 p.
GIS gridded layers
Input data layers
Driver: trawling distribution
Pressure:sediment resuspension
sediment depth removed
State: sediment type, redox
Impact/risk model
Management scenarios
Derived data layers
Impact: sediment rate change
Response:spatial illustration of
least risk or minimum
impact scenarios
GIS tool for
scenario testing
Measured disturbances are combined with modelled impacts to
predict responses to various scenarios
adapted from Ruth Parker
GIS- based impact assessment: the effect of trawling patterns on benthic function
from Parker et al., 2004
from Parker
et al., 2004
GIS impact assessment tool application – Contaminant remobilisation and bioavailability
from disturbance in the Tyne coastal area
from Parker et al., 2004
Comparative spatial extent for human activities – 2001/2
Disposal ~ 0.04%
Aggregate >1hr ~0.01%
Aggregate <1hr ~ 0.08% Beam trawling
Disposal ~ 0.04%
Aggregate >1hr ~0.01%
Aggregate <1hr ~ 0.08% Beam trawling
Aggregate <1hr Aggregate >1hr Disposal
% area
Dredging and disposal
adapted from Ruth Parker
Examples of site
designations for an
integrated management
plan using marine spatial
planning. Security issues
should be integrated into
ecological and
Models, such as the Regional Risk Model (RRM) of Landis, are being
developed to inform complex decisions in which multiple sites and endpoints
are being impacted by multiple stressors – this can be adapted to address
the security “stressors” as well, to balance these inputs
from Landis, 2004
The RRM uses filters and ranking factors to assess the links
between sources, habitats, and impacts in a transparent way
from Landis, 2004
Clean, healthy, safe
biologically diverse &
productive seas -
safe seas can and should be added! ecological
Recovery timescales
Ecological sensitivity
to disturbance
Natural vs.
Individual vs.
cumulative disturbance
Science Issues…
Space and
time dependence
of disturbance
Offshore SACs, effort regulation
Marine spatial planning (MSP)
Marine Bill
Net Benefits’
..policy framework
‘Charting Progress’
adapted from Ruth Parker
Sustainable management decisions must balance
complex issues
Clearly, ecological goals must be balanced against
socioeconomic and regulatory goals
However, we must also project potential risks into the future
and assess how we hope to prevent and/or respond to either
natural or human-induced impacts upon our safety and
These can be gradual, (e.g., climate change), or sudden (e.g., a
hurricane), and can be preventable or uncontrollable
All prevention has a cost which must be balanced against the
cost of consequences
Risk assessment and management tools, as well as decision
and communication tools, can be adapted to allow society and
decision makers to allocate resources in support of their
environmental security goals
... A Spatial DPSIR (sDPSIR) model can be built implementing a DPSIR conceptual model in a Geographic Information System (GIS) [26]. As a matter of facts, GIS provides powerful tools to model, analyze and characterize in space and time processes and phenomena, and the DPSIR implementation in GIS environment could provide interesting solutions to address pitfalls and issues in urban and regional planning. ...
... On the one hand, an sDPSIR can support the creation of an informative process about the environmental state, through indicators and maps. On the other hand, it can be used to evaluate effects of various impacts of human activities and choices, and to support the consequent societal responses design [26]. Both features are very relevant parts of a Geodesign process and the latter may be implemented interactively supporting sketch planning. ...
Conference Paper
This paper presents a Geodesign tool supporting collaborative decision-making in Strategic Environmental Assessment of Local Land-use Planning. The tool consists of a Planning Support Systems implementing a spatial DPSIR model, which allows the real time interaction among plan alternatives design, impact evaluation and documentation. The Planning Support System demonstrates the opportunity for innovation in spatial planning, design and governance given by the availability of Spatial Data Infrastructures. The study proposed in this paper concerns the Sardinia (Italy) case study, but the results can be generalized to other regions in Europe and worldwide.
... 34,35 The MA warns that human activities will increase the likelihood of natural disasters such as floods, wildfires and storms, unless measures are taken to protect ecosystems and lessen societal vulnerabilities by making better informed development decisions. 1,36,37 For example, the removal of wetlands through leveeing, draining and canalization reduces natural flood storage capacity by up to 80% and increases the probability, duration and severity of flood events. 16 The depletion of natural resources can also function as a catalyst for war and other confrontations. ...
... However, the subsequent by-products such as political instability, disease and the migration of refugees can readily span borders. 36 The degradation of ecosystems and their services increases risks to public health, and undermines both security and economic stability while threatening the overall ability to sustainably support human society and achieve future development goals. 40 . ...
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... Such stresses and changes include global warming, sea-level rise, acidification, eutrophication, pollution, invasive species, biodiversity and habitat loss. [Apitz 2007[Apitz , 2013 Hence, the approach suggested in this report builds on the already existing approaches proposed in other PIANC reports (see Section 1.4), such as the WwN approach. It focuses on working with natural processes to achieve WTI project goals by understanding ecosystem functions and services and accounting the ES trade-offs in a structured and quantified manner. ...
Technical Report
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... The establishment of international maquiladoras (factories) and other social and economic changes associated with development has been made to accommodate trade, transforming the physical environment of the U.S.eMexico borderlands (Esparza, Waldorf, & Chavez, 2004; Gomez, 1993; Gruben, 2001; Sassen, 2006). Related compromises in the sustainability of air-and water quality pose risks to public health, safety, and the environment for people living in colonias (Apitz, 2007; Carter, Peña, Varady, & Suk, 1996; Collins-Dogrul, 2006; Faber, 1998; Moda, 2007; Norman, 2010; Norman, Hirsch, & Ward, 2008, p. 63). Colonias, the Spanish word for neighborhood, are defined by the Cranston-Gonzales Act 1992, as unincorporated communities located within 150-miles of the U.S.eMexico border, with low incomes, that lack safe housing and/or services such as potable water, adequate sewage systems, drainage, streets, and utilities. ...
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... Given global population and climate change projections, realistically, the challenge will be not restoration but the need to equitably and sustainably provide for the growing resource demands of a burgeoning population in a shifting habitat, while minimizing ecological damage. This is particularly critical along already extensively altered and exploited river basins, coasts, and estuaries, which must adapt not only to natural variability and stress but also to increasing levels of global, regional, and local-scale anthropogenic stresses and changes, including global warming, sea-level rise, acidification, eutrophication, pollution, invasive species, and habitat loss (Apitz 2007). Thus, there has been an emergence of more holistic management concepts based on the ecosystem approach (EsA), defined as a strategy for the integrated management of land, water, and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way, based on scientific evaluation of the essential processes, functions, and interactions of organisms in their environment (CBD 1998). ...
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... He advocated a system in which "… each goal can be traced back to its origin in both policy and science, as well as to the institutional struc ture responsible for its achievement." There are a growing number of approaches to provide a clear, logical, and unbroken chain linking and translating the fundamental science and its underlying assumptions to the applied issues and decisions they inform (Apitz, 2007(Apitz, , 2008b)but the development of such frameworks requires "… a durable partnership between service provider (science) and client (management)" (Rogers, 1998). Such partnerships face substantial institutional barriers. ...
Due to the need to both dredge sediments to maintain coastal waterways and manage the impacts of extensive human activities, the management of coastal and estuarine sediments is an important issue. There is a need to assess contaminated sediments in order to optimize that management. However, it is complex; assessment design and interpretation should be driven by the management goals and the ecological, political, and economic goals of interested parties. This chapter reviews various aspects of contaminated sediment assessment, from simple site characterization to the selection of management strategies, in light of how assessment measures can inform various management objectives. The focus of this chapter is on the assessment and management of anthropogenic chemicals and their impacts; biological restoration per se is not addressed.
... He advocates a system in which "…each goal can be traced back to its origin in both policy and science, as well as to the institutional structure responsible for its achievement." There are a growing number of approaches to provide a clear, logical and unbroken chain linking and translating the fundamental science and its underlying assumptions to the applied issues and decisions they inform (Apitz 2007(Apitz , 2008a-but the development of such frameworks requires "…a durable partnership between service provider (science) and client (management)" (Rogers 1998). Such partnerships face substantial institutional barriers. ...
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The aim of this paper is to highlight a not yet recognized hazard for mass failure (landslides) of contaminated soils into rivers and to provide an understanding of important interactions of such events. A first effort to investigate the problem is made focusing on the south eastern part of the Göta Älv river valley, in Sweden, by combining geographical information on potentially contaminated sites with slope stability levels on maps. The objectives of this study were to: (1) Review current Swedish risk assessment methodologies for contaminated areas and landslides, and analyze their capability to quantify the risk of contaminated areas being subject to landslides. (2) Investigate the presence of contaminated areas at landslide risk along the Göta Älv river valley. (3) Provide an overview of the national methods for landslide risk analysis and for environmental risk classification, followed by a comparison between the methods and the results from the superposition of the two methods for the study site. (4) Make a first attempt to conceptualize the release and transport mechanisms.Environmental risk assessment data of the study site was combined with data on slope stability levels. Conceptual issues of the release and transport scenario were identified and a first conceptual model was created.Of 31 potentially contaminated sites, eight had moderate to high probability for landslide, and of these eight sites, five were classified as having a high or very high environmental risk. These findings had not been revealed when the data had only been considered separately. The ‘actual’ risk could hence be even higher than the highest environmental risk class actually suggests. By visualizing results from the landslide risk analysis with the results from the environmental risk classification of contaminated sites, a better understanding of the potential hazard involved is obtained.The release mechanisms as a result of a landslide into surface water were conceptualized using two time scales: the instantaneous and the long-term release. It is clear that the Swedish method for landslide risk assessment and for environmental risk assessment of contaminated soil considers hazard events that are characterized by different time scales. The method for landslide risk assessment addresses events that are rapid (occurring over minutes) with instantaneous impact and consequences. Measurements are made within a short time after the event (days to months). The environmental risk assessment is done with respect to events that are slowly evolving (over years or decades) and any possible consequence materializes after a long period of time.The combined data provided a more solid basis for decisions; however, inherent difficulties when combining data based on different methods were revealed. Separate assessment methodologies executed by different authorities may lead to incorrect assessments and inappropriate protective measures.The effects and the consequences of landslides in areas with contaminated soil need to be further investigated. The climate change expected to occur over the next hundred years will increase the probability of slope failures, such as landslides, in many parts of the world where the precipitation is predicted to increase (e.g., in Scandinavia). This will accentuate the need for methods and models to assess the impact of such events. In order to achieve established environmental quality objectives there is an urgent need for models and assessment principles (criteria) for contaminated areas that are at risk of experiencing slope failure. Knowledge of the governing processes that control the release and transport of substances under a variety of conditions, taking into account characteristic spatial and temporal scales, is required.
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Empirical studies investigating the role of species diversity in sustaining ecosystem processes have focused primarily on terrestrial plant and soil communities. Eighteen representative studies drawn from post-1999 literature specifically examined how changes in biodiversity affect benthic ecosystem processes. Results from these small-scale, low-diversity manipulative studies indicate that the effects of changes in biodiversity (mostly synonymous with local species richness) are highly variable over space and time and frequently depend on specific biological traits or functional roles of individual species. Future studies of freshwater and marine ecosystems will require the development of new experimental designs at larger spatial and temporal scales. Furthermore, to successfully integrate field and laboratory studies, the derivation of realistic models and appropriate experiments will require approaches different from those already used in terrestrial systems.
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Because people wish to preserve their health and do something equivalent for ecosystems, the metaphor of ecosystem health springs to mind. This paper presents the argument that it is a mistake for environmental scientists to treat this metaphor as reality. First, the metaphor fails because it misrepresents both ecology and health science. Ecosystems are not organisms, so they do not behave like organisms and do not have properties of organisms such as health. Also, health is not an operational concept for physicians or health risk assessors because they must predict, diagnose, and treat specific states called diseases or injuries; they do not calculate indexes of health. Second, attempts to operationally define ecosystem health result in the creation of indexes of heterogeneous variables. Such indexes have no meaning; they cannot be predicted, so they are not applicable to most regulatory problems; they have no diagnostic power; effects on one component are eclipsed by responses of other components; and the reason for a high or low index value is unknown. Their only virtue is that they reduce the complex array of ecosystem responses to various disturbances to one number with a reassuring name. A better alternative is to assess the real array of ecosystem responses so that causes can be diagnosed, future states can be predicted, and benefits of treatments can be compared.
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This is the first of a two-part review of the current state-of-the-science pertaining to the assessment and management of contaminated sediments. The goal of this review is to introduce some of the major technical and policy issues stemming from the assessment and management of contaminated sediments, highlight a number of aspects of contaminated sediment assessment and management found to be successful, and, when appropriate, address the barriers that still exist for improving contaminated sediment management. In this paper, Part I, the many key elements of an effective investigation and risk evaluation strategy are reviewed, beginning with the development of a conceptual site model (CSM) and including a discussion of some of the key factors influencing the design of sediment investigations and ecological risk assessment of sediment-bound chemicals on aquatic biota. In Part II of this paper (Apitz et al. 2005), various approaches are reviewed for evaluating sediment risk and monitoring sediment remedy effectiveness. While many of the technical and policy issues described in this review are relevant to dredged material management, the focus of this paper is on sediment assessment for environmental management.
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The provisioning of sustaining goods and services that we obtain from natural ecosystems is a strong economic justification for the conservation of biological diversity. Understanding the relationship between these goods and services and changes in the size, arrangement, and quality of natural habitats is a fundamental challenge of natural resource management. In this paper, we describe a new approach to assessing the implications of habitat loss for loss of ecosystem services by examining how the provision of different ecosystem services is dominated by species from different trophic levels. We then develop a mathematical model that illustrates how declines in habitat quality and quantity lead to sequential losses of trophic diversity. The model suggests that declines in the provisioning of services will initially be slow but will then accelerate as species from higher trophic levels are lost at faster rates. Comparison of these patterns with empirical examples of ecosystem collapse (and assembly) suggest similar patterns occur in natural systems impacted by anthropogenic change. In general, ecosystem goods and services provided by species in the upper trophic levels will be lost before those provided by species lower in the food chain. The decrease in terrestrial food chain length predicted by the model parallels that observed in the oceans following overexploitation. The large area requirements of higher trophic levels make them as susceptible to extinction as they are in marine systems where they are systematically exploited. Whereas the traditional species-area curve suggests that 50% of species are driven extinct by an order-of-magnitude decline in habitat abundance, this magnitude of loss may represent the loss of an entire trophic level and all the ecosystem services performed by the species on this trophic level.
This paper sets out a conceptual framework formodelling events in aquatic ecosystems as coupledprocesses in catchments, water columns and sediments.This theoretical framework is developed using ideasfrom the behaviour of complex adaptive systems. I showthat it is possible to use similar models for eachsubsystem and that there are analogous processes ineach, differing only in scale. In this framework thephytoplankton appear as system canaries. Nuisancealgal blooms appear as a result of perturbations tothe system biogeochemistry at a range of scales.Macrophytes are identified as important components ofthe coupled catchment, water, sediment system.Thinking of models of algal blooms as coupled sets ofcatchment, water column and sediment models focusesattention on the flows of materials between thesubsystems. Such flows of dissolved and particulateorganic and inorganic nutrients (carbon, nitrogen andphosphorus) are rarely fully quantified. The balanceof particulate and dissolved organic nutrient loads(including detritus) is an important parameter whichdetermines events in aquatic ecosystems. This balanceis affected by a number of anthropogenic changesincluding land use, trophic state and flow regulation.Scaling of temporal and spatial patterns and processesin catchments, water columns and sediments will needto be further studied if this model framework is to bedeveloped.