A Global Map of Human Impact on Marine Ecosystems

National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, 735 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA.
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 03/2008; 319(5865):948-52. DOI: 10.1126/science.1149345
Source: PubMed


The management and conservation of the world's oceans require synthesis of spatial data on the distribution and intensity of human activities and the overlap of their impacts on marine ecosystems. We developed an ecosystem-specific, multiscale spatial model to synthesize 17 global data sets of anthropogenic drivers of ecological change for 20 marine ecosystems. Our analysis indicates that no area is unaffected by human influence and that a large fraction (41%) is strongly affected by multiple drivers. However, large areas of relatively little human impact remain, particularly near the poles. The analytical process and resulting maps provide flexible tools for regional and global efforts to allocate conservation resources; to implement ecosystem-based management; and to inform marine spatial planning, education, and basic research.

Download full-text


Available from: Kimberly A Selkoe
  • Source
    • "c o m / l o c a t e / g e o d e r m a et al., 2011; de Groot et al., 2012; Reddy and DeLaume, 2008). It is well known, however, that these environments are fragile: erosion processes of the coastal areas, subsidence and salt water intrusion often threaten these ecosystems (Antonellini et al., 2008; Buscaroli and Zannoni, 2010; Cochard et al., 2008; Mollema et al., 2013) and the changes of both climate and hydrological regime deeply influence their evolution and healthiness (Halpern et al., 2008; Lotze et al., 2006; Worm et al., 2006). Studies on the effects of climate change have estimated that the sea level will increase from 18 to 59 cm by the end of the next century (IPCC AR4 SYR, 2007). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Transitional systems are complex and fragile ecosystems where the water table oscillation plays a fundamental role in soil and landscape development. Due to global climate change, by the end of the next century a large part of these environments will be affected by water flooding, causing deep changes to soil properties and functionality. Increasing the knowledge on the genesis and properties of these soils can be fundamental for providing useful tools for the correct management of this natural resource. The transition from wetland to hydromorphic interdune system in the coastal area of the S. Vitale park (Northern Italy) represents a unique soil hydrosequence characterized by soils which undergo continuous or partial, permanent or periodic saturation and reduction. These hydrosequences offer a great opportunity to investigate how soil properties change in the transition from subaqueous to hydromorphic soils and to understand which pedogenetic processes mostly characterize the soil development under different water saturation conditions. In this study, the soil transition through the hydrosequence was recognized by the evaluation of some morphological (e.g. Munsell color) and chemical (organic carbon, sulfur ratio, CaCO3 content) soil properties that could trace the extent of sulfidization and decarbonation processes along the soil sequences. The presence of salts of marine origin characterized the subaqueous pedons, while nutrients accumulation (i.e., phosphorous) increased with soil emersion. These hydrosequences represent a soil continuum where the duration of water saturation and the oscillation of the water table along the soil profiles strongly affect some specific soil-forming processes that involve S redox transformation, P accumulation, CaCO3 depletion and salt accumulation.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2016 · Geoderma
  • Source
    • "Major threats to coastal marine environments include habitat destruction and degradation of water quality (Lotze et al., 2006; Bulleri and Chapman, 2010). Degradation of water quality in coastal areas can result from both land-based and oceanbased human activities, most commonly through increased sediment loads, water turbidity and chemical pollution (Vitousek et al., 1997; Halpern et al., 2008; Mangialajo et al., 2008). Nutrients derived from urban and agricultural wastewater are identified as one of the factors influencing the structure and composition of marine food web dynamics due to their impact on nutrient cycles in rivers, estuaries and coastal waters (Richardson and Jørgensen, 1996; Paerl, 1997; Castro et al., 2007). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Threats to marine ecosystems include habitat destruction and degradation of water quality, resulting from land- and ocean-based human activities. Anthropogenic input causing modification of water quality, can affect primary productivity and thus food availability and quality for higher trophic levels. This is especially important for sedentary benthic intertidal communities, which rely on local food availability. We investigated the effect of urbanization on the dietary regime of four species of intertidal filter feeders (three barnacles and one mussel) at sites close to high-density cities and at sites far from heavily urbanized areas using fatty acid and stable isotope techniques. δ15N was significantly higher at urbanized sites compared to their corresponding control sites for all species with few exceptions, while no effect on δ13C was recorded. Barnacle fatty acid profiles were not affected by cities, while mussels from sites close to cities had fatty acid signatures with a higher proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). We suggest that the enrichment in δ15N at urbanised sites reflects the influence of anthropogenically derived nitrogen directly linked to wastewater input from domestic and industrial sewage. Linked to this, the high proportion of PUFA in mussels at urbanized sites may reflect the influence of increased nitrogen concentrations on primary production and enhanced growth of large phytoplankton cells. The results indicate that anthropogenic effects can strongly influence the diets of benthic organisms, but these effects differ among taxa. Changes in the diet of such habitat forming species can affect their fitness and survival with potential effects on the populations associated with them.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016
  • Source
    • "With an ever increasing demand for human resources, and associated degradation of natural habitats, in excess of a third of the world's oceans have experienced a high level of anthropogenic damage [10]. Ecosystems with the highest predicted cumulative impact scores (where multiple drivers of anthropogenic change are combined) include hard and soft continental shelves and rocky reefs; almost half of all coral reefs having a high, to very high damage impact score [10]. Threats to corals can include climateinduced changes such as alteration in the ocean chemistry [8] [24] and impacts from trawl fisheries (Bottom-Towed Gear; BTG) [9] [37]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Globally, the need to identify and establish integrated and connected systems of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is becoming increasingly recognised. For best practice, these networks need to be planned and assessed against multiple criteria. However, building a sound evidence base to support decision-making processes is complex, as well as fiscally and logistically challenging. Recent studies have demonstrated the utility of integrating ‘citizen science’ data into mainstream scientific analysis, particularly where broad-scale spatial patterns of distribution are required. In UK waters, the pink sea fan (Eunicella verrucosa) is a nationally protected slow growing, cold-water coral, and is a representative species of reef features that provide habitat for many other sessile species. However, this species is vulnerable to physical impact and loss of suitable substratum, and is likely highly vulnerable to bottom-towed fishing gears. In this study, data from a volunteer-based marine survey programme (‘Seasearch’) are analysed with the aim of describing the spatial distribution and relative abundance of pink sea fan colonies throughout southwest UK coastal waters. The congruence between pink sea fans and the extant southern UK MPA network is reported, and the current threat from Bottom-Towed Gear (BTG) to pink sea fan dominated reefs, that have historically lacked protection, is quantitatively assessed. This analysis reveals that protection of this and other benthic species has been increased by management of previously ‘open access’ MPAs. Nonetheless, areas of pink sea fan habitat and their host reef systems exist outside extant protected areas in southwest UK seas, and as such are potentially at risk from bottom-towed fisheries. This analysis demonstrates the utility of well-organised citizen science data collection and highlights how such efforts can help inform knowledge on broad scale patterns of biodiversity.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · Marine Policy
Show more