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Climate, ocean acidification, and the changing ocean

Room: Lomond Auditorium     2014-08-16; 15:00 - 17:00

NB: Unless specified otherwise, presentations are 15 minutes in length, and speed presentations are 5 mins in length.

S1.2  15:05  Sea turtle population assessment models: comparing model structure and the value of data for estimating abundance. Chasco, Brandon *, Oregon State University; Ward, Eric National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Heppell, Selina Oregon State University; Eguchi, Tomo National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration;

Abstract: Sea turtles are a culturally important species but managing them remains challenging because their complex life history and highly migratory behavior make it difficult to determine population abundance. Sea turtle assessments now include a more integrated statistical approach, similar to commercial fisheries, where population parameters are linked through a series functional relationships and compared to all of the available data using statistically probabilities. Yet as some sea turtle populations remain at critically low levels and financial resources for conservation continue remain scarce, understanding what information is derived from additional data is becoming increasingly important. We develop an operating model where the sea turtle population dynamics are known, then use the following progressively complex models to examine how additional sources of data inform estimates of population abundance. Our models include: 1) a stage-based model with transition matrix fit to nest count and juvenile index surveys, 2) a stage-based model with additional adult mark-recapture and fisheries effort data, and 3) an age-structured model with additional length-based data for turtle by-catch. Our approach demonstrates how to implement progressively complex turtle population models, how different data inform our understanding of the true population abundance, and we make a critical step toward evaluating management actions related to fisheries effort.

S1.3  15:10  Decision-making to facilitate habitat movements in coastal Australia. Chamberlain, DA *, University of Queensland; Possingham, HP University of Queensland; Phinn, SR University of Queensland;

Abstract: Introduction: The project focuses on the global & regional threats to coastal marine ecosystem services & functions & species' responses to the interaction of stressors under climate change. The alteration in structural connectivity among estuaries, estuarine wetlands & freshwater habitats will influence the ability of marine-estuarine species to access crucial juvenile habitats. Ontogenetic and trophic shifts are important functions. Methods: We address the impact of ocean acidification and elevated temperature and the interaction of these parameters on fin fish species from tropical coastal Australia through laboratory experiments that examine phenology and physiology. Finfish species to be examined are Lates calcarifer, Lutjanus argentimaculatus, Plectropomus leopardus and Epinephelus coioides. Remote sensing of coastal environments is used to provide quantitative assessments of species and vegetation biomass dynamics and ecosystem functions to inform systematic conservation planning. Results: The investigation will be developed under a decision theory framework & encompass mechanistic and climate impact modelling & synthesis using spatial prioritization tools, the Marxan and Zonation suites. Discussion: Surface ocean acidification measurements of the open ocean and species’ responses differ to those in shallow coastal ecosystems and it’s these ecosystems that have lacked consideration. This project contributes to filling this knowledge gap.

S1.4  15:15  The effects of noise on distribution of cetaceans in the English Channel. Eleman, A *, University of Southampton;

Abstract: Noise pollution from anthropogenic activities has become a serious concern for marine life, especially cetaceans, as they rely on sound as their principal sense. This impact can be short and long-term, both at individual and population levels. However, our knowledge on this issue is very limited due to restrictions caused by great spatial scales and natural variations in oceans. This study aims to investigate the relationship between the distribution of cetaceans and underwater noise. A total of 225 noise measurements and 287 cetacean sightings recorded between 1998 and 2005 in the English Channel were used. Data were sourced by three bodies: the ambient noise data by the UK Hydrographic Office and the sightings data by the Sea Watch Foundation and Organization Cetacea (ORCA). The noise dataset consists of recordings at 55, 305, 850, and 1150 Hz frequencies from sonobuoys. Investigation of these datasets was conducted through GIS data processing followed by statistical analysis including Pearson and Spearman correlation, and linear regression. When data from all 8 years were analysed, significant negative correlation was seen between the total number of individuals per grid cell and average noise of 55 Hz (Pearson’s r=-0.753, p=0) and 1150 Hz (Pearson’s r=-0.538, p=0.007), which may suggest that cetaceans are sensitive to these frequencies. However, the lack spatial and temporal overlap between sightings and sonobuoy deployments limits statistical interpretation.

S1.5  15:20  Socio-economic analysis of Eutrophication in coastal waters: A choice experiment study in Solent, UK. Wattage, P *, CEMARE, University of Portsmouth;

Abstract: The impact of pollution from sewage treatment and agricultural run-off and associated impacts on coastal waters and important habitats were investigated in this study. Since there are several possible options for improving and preserving water quality, questions were asked from general public on their preference and perception on different options along with their associated willingness to pay using Choice Experiment Method. The first two attributes looked at two of the main anthropogenic causes of eutrophication. The first was upgrade of sewage treatment works (UPSTW) and it concerned the effects that incorrect or insufficient sewage treatment might have on the water quality. The second attribute involved reducing nutrient inputs to rivers and estuaries discharging to the Solent water (REDAGNUT), and it represents the number of farms which are compliant with the requirements of the Solent nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZ). The third and final attribute was the COST. It investigated the respondents’ WTP for the improving of water quality in the Solent from eutrophication. Results indicate that the general public of Solent were in favour of both UPSTW and REDAGNUT. This research was conducted as a part of ISECA project which was funded by the EU Interreg.

S1.6  15:25  Coral traits as predictors of bleaching vulnerability. Mizerek, TL *, Macquarie University; Madin, JS Macquarie University; Baird, AH James Cook University;

Abstract: Coral bleaching due to thermal stress significantly affects coral health, which can lead to death and thus have devastating consequences to coral reef ecosystems. Understanding the extent of future bleaching events is necessary for effective management. However, predictions of these impacts are complicated as species have varying tolerances to stressors. Bleaching, among other threats, can act as filters of community assembly through selection on species’ traits. Community impacts can therefore be estimated through the relationship between species’ traits and vulnerability to stressors. Colony shape is currently used to assess mass bleaching impacts, since species-level surveys are costly. Growth form is one of many coral traits with potential to explain vulnerability but quantitative justification of this or other species’ traits are lacking. In this study I utilized a global dataset of coral species’ traits to analyze the relationship between traits and vulnerability to mass bleaching events, in order to determine which traits have the most influence on bleaching susceptibility. Results indicate that a variety of traits including growth form can predict bleaching susceptibility with high confidence, partially justifying the use of coral colony shape in monitoring programs. Species’ traits are becoming readily available thus providing enormous potential to understand and predict responses to impacts of a variety of major threats to the health of coral reef ecosystems.

S1.7  15:30  Modeling blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) habitat use and relative abundance: conservation implications in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada. Miller, BM *, SMRU Canada; Ramp, CA Mingan Island Cetacean Study; Lu, MS Texus Instruments; Larouche, P Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Sears, R Mingan Island Cetacean Study; Hammond, P University of St. Andrews;

Abstract: The Gulf of St. Lawrence (GSL), Canada, is an important feeding and socializing ground for blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus). This endangered species is increasingly susceptible to anthropogenic impacts in this area due to coastal development, shipping traffic, and oil and gas exploration. Until now, the distribution and habitat use of blue whales in the GSL was relatively unknown, limiting the effectiveness of conservation initiatives. Nine years of non-systematic survey data were used to investigate blue whale distribution and relative abundance in relation to environmental variables including sea bed depth and slope, distance to shore, sea surface temperature (SST), distance to a thermal front, and chlorophyll-a (chl-a) concentration. The relative abundance of blue whales was modeled with generalized additive models and model selection was based on generalized cross-validation scores. Blue whales were strongly associated with bathymetric features, time-lagged chl-a, SST, and proximity to thermal fronts, suggesting that they prefer features that not only drive biological activity, but also those that aggregate prey. The final model was used to identify areas of critical habitat for blue whales in the GSL, which provides valuable information for the development of a blue whale conservation management plan under the Canadian Species at Risk Act.

S1.9  15:35  Monitoring coral reefs: carbonate budgets and their applications to assessments of reef resilience. Murphy, G. N. *, University of Exeter; Perry, C. University of Exeter; Simpson, S. University of Exeter; McCoy, C. Cayman Islands Department of Environment;

Abstract: Anthropogenic and environmental factors are driving major ecological transitions on coral reefs with the impacts of these changes on the natural functioning and resilience of reefs receiving widespread attention. In contrast, our understanding of the implications for reefs as focal points for carbonate production and accumulation remains more limited, despite the critical role in creating and maintaining reef habitats and complexity. ReefBudget is a relatively new census-based methodology which allows the assessment of carbonate budget states on coral reefs. Here we describe the results of ReefBudget surveys on reefs around Grand Cayman and the many benefits of adopting this reef monitoring paradigm. Net rates of carbonate production ranged from +4.02 to -1.28 kg CaCO3.m-2.yr-1. Corals were the dominant carbonate producers and parrotfish the dominant substrate eroders at all sites, but most carbonate framework production and erosion was driven by just a few key species. The ReefBudget methodology provides a forward looking indication of reef health trajectory and also a quantitative measure of habitat construction in terms of net framework addition. Furthermore, it identifies key species contributing to the structural resilience of the reef and carbonate cycling processes. As such, it has great potential as a reef management tool.

S1.10  15:40  Using spatial variation to monitor coastal seabird populations . O'Hanlon, Nina *, University of Glasgow;

Abstract: Coastal marine environments contain some of the most diverse and productive habitats, yet despite their importance, pressure on these habitats has increased markedly over the last several decades. Seabirds, as apex predators, have the potential to be used as monitors on the state of coastal habitats. Currently, long-term datasets are used to identify changes in seabird populations. These datasets provide invaluable information on the temporal variation in seabirds, however detecting even small significant changes in these populations can be extremely difficult. Instead we aim to investigate the effectiveness of alternative, easy to monitor traits to identify the state of seabird populations that give greater resolution than population counts. Using historic seabird data, spatial variation was identified in three seabird species associated with coastal habitats nationally and within the study area of Northern Ireland and south-west Scotland; herring gull Larus argentatus, lesser black-backed gull L. fuscus and European shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis. Exploiting this spatial variation, seabird traits which are thought to reflect changes in environmental conditions over short time periods are being investigated at colonies with contrasting historic population trends. Outcomes will be used to validate alternative monitoring tools to provide an early warning that a colony is experiencing adverse environmental conditions; enabling actions to be considered more immediately.

S1.11  15:45  Galapagos marine invasives – identification, prediction and control. Keith, I. *, Charles Darwin Foundation, Galapagos; Banks, S. Charles Darwin Foundation, Galapagos; Collins, K. University of Southampton, UK; Dawson, T University of Dundee, UK; Xie, L. North Carolina State University, USA;

Abstract: The marine ecosystems of Galapagos harbour unique biological communities with a high incidence of endemic species. Currently, the presence and impact of non-native species in the marine environment are fortunately low, with current efforts being concentrated on establishing an early warning system and prevention. The Charles Darwin Research Station is working with the Ecuadorian National Parks Agency, Navy, Biosecurity Agency and Environment Ministry to establish shipping protocols along with monitoring of entry ports. Some 500 tourist guides lead visitors including divers. Training programmes and identification guides have been produced for both government agencies and the tourist industry to look out for potential invasives such as the white coral Carijoa riseii rapidly becoming established on mainland Ecuador. A key component of the current effort is ocean modelling to predict the oceanic currents and possible transport of larvae and propagules from the eastern tropical Pacific corridor connecting mainland Central and South America and between islands within the Galapagos archipelago. These are subjected to periodic El Niño events with dramatic impacts on coral, macro algae, etc. Such perturbations can trigger adjustments in subtidal communities increasing likelihood of arrival and establishment of marine invasives. Climate change is likely to increase their severity and frequency and inferences from modelling will help inform risk assessments for marine invasive species.

S1.12  15:50  Arctic conservation through international agreements. Zivian, AM *, Ocean Conservancy;

Abstract: Climate change effects are particularly pronounced in the Arctic. Because of its central role in regulating global climate, what happens in the Arctic has global ramifications. Combined with the multinational span of the pan-Arctic, international agreements will be key to advancing marine conservation, especially as sea ice retreats and shipping and industrial activities increase in this sensitive environment. The main international bodies addressing Arctic issues are the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Arctic Council. The IMO is working to address Arctic ship traffic and is expected to finalize a Polar Code by the end of 2014. The Council, comprised of the Arctic nations and indigenous groups with NGO and state observers, initially served mainly as a research body for Arctic issues but works increasingly on binding agreements. Arctic conservation requires an integrated pan-Arctic approach to management based on sophisticated geospatial data and a sound understanding of the ecosystem, including potential cumulative impacts, ideally leading to a pan-Arctic ocean use plan. This presentation will look at how international agreements will be crucial advance Arctic marine conservation because of the diverse institutions that will need to be involved, the different scales at which they operate, and the multiple jurisdictions with responsibility in Arctic waters (from local coastlines to national EEZs to high seas).

S1.13  15:55  What can indicators tell us about the vulnerability of the fisheries sector to climate change in Small Island Developing States? Monnereau, Iris *, University of the West Indies; Mahon, Robin University of the West Indies; McConney, Patrick University of the West Indies; Nurse, Leonard University of the West Indies;

Abstract: Vulnerability to climate change has become prominent over the past decade in policy and academic literature. Past approaches to understanding the vulnerability of fisheries sectors to climate change have indicated that Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are more vulnerable than Small Island Developing States (SIDS). However, these studies included only a limited number of indicators, and very few SIDS as they are often considered to be ‘data-deficient’. As a result they underestimated the vulnerability of the fisheries sector in SIDS which can have widespread consequences for SIDS in the global climate change debate. Guided by general vulnerability theory we developed a globally applicable national-level fisheries sector vulnerability framework that contains over 100 indicators spread across the components of exposure, sensitivity, adaptive capacity, comparing the outcome for LDCs, SIDS and other nations. While SIDS were rated least vulnerable in previous vulnerability assessments they are most vulnerable in our framework. This suggests that the choice of indicators is crucial, as different indices lead to different conclusions. Our framework assesses the differences in what makes SIDS and LDCs vulnerable. These distinctions are crucial, as current and future adaptation within the different groups of countries require different approaches to reduce their vulnerability and enhance their ability to meet international conservation commitments while maintaining local food security.

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