Adaptive management for novel ecosystems

Graham, Nicholas A.J., and Hicks, Christina C. (2015) Adaptive management for novel ecosystems. In: Allen, Craig R., and Garmestani, Ahjond S., (eds.) Adaptive Management of Social-Ecological Systems. Springer, Dordrecht, Netherlands, pp. 123-146.

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Many drivers of ecosystem change, such as exploitation, climate change and the introduction of invasive species, lead to non-random species extinctions or changes in abundance (Purvis et al. 2000). For example, exploitation typically targets larger species in an assemblage first (Owens and Bennett 2000), climate change affects species based on their thermal performance windows (Pörtner and Farrell 2008), and invasive predatory species can cause local extinctions of prey species least adapted to predator evasion Blackburn et al. 2004). Although appreciation of ecosystem degradation and differential species loss through anthropogenic drivers is not new (Carson 1962, Myers 1987), the recognition that changes are predictable and sometimes lead to persistent new ecosystem configurations (species compositions and relative abundances) has led to the emerging concept of novel ecosystems (Hobbs et al. 2006, 2013). This concept, which has similarities to the no-analog literature in paleoecology (Williams and Jackson 2007), explicitly recognizes that many ecosystems are changing and are unlikely to return to pre-impact conditions. However, these new configurations may still provide valuable goods and services to society, and consequently there is a need to understand the properties of emergent novel ecosystems (Williams and Jackson 2007) and determine the most appropriate management in the new ecosystem contexts (Seastedt et al. 2008).

The majority of work on emerging novel ecosystems has been restricted to the terrestrial realm (Hobbs et al. 2013). However, given substantial recent and predicted changes for a range of coastal marine ecosystems (Polunin 2008), there is an increasing awareness of the need to understand how the novel ecosystem concept relates to the marine nvironment (e.g., Harborne and Mumby 2011, Doney et al. 2012). Many classic marine ecology studies assessed the dynamics and structure of communities in response to natural disturbances and gradients, with little thought to anthropogenic influences. Indeed, such research and knowledge is well founded in the study of shallow coastal marine habitats, with natural disturbances such as storms, rainfall, temperature anomalies and diseases playing key roles in the structuring and dynamic nature of many of these habitats (Dayton 1971, Connell 1978, Sousa 1979, Thistle 1981). However, there has been an increasing recognition that anthropogenic disturbances have also affected the structure and dynamics of shallow marine habitats for at least the past two centuries (Jackson et al. 2001, Pandolfi et al. 2003), and the intensity and frequency of such disturbances are increasing exponentially. Indeed, anthropogenic stressors are becoming the dominant drivers of community structure in many systems (Nyström et al. 2000, Hughes et al. 2003, Polunin 2008).

A range of anthropogenic disturbances threaten coastal ecosystems, including overfishing, nutrient input, sedimentation, land reclamation and dredging. However, climate change is rapidly emerging as perhaps the most substantial threat for many ecosystems (Walther et al. 2002, Hughes et al. 2003, Polunin 2008, Hoegh-Guldberg and Bruno 2010). The effects of these anthropogenic disturbances is leading to concerns over the long-term persistence or changing nature of a variety of ecosystems, including kelp forests (Steneck et al. 2002 ), seagrass beds (Duarte 2002), mangrove forests (Alongi 2002), and coral reefs (McClanahan 2002). As such, it seems particularly pertinent to apply the novel ecosystem concept to the marine environment. Coral reefs provide a powerful focal ecosystem to examine the importance of the novel ecosystem concept and implications for management, having been substantially altered by a range of direct anthropogenic drivers and global climate change (Hughes and Connell 1999, Hughes et al. 2003, Graham et al. 2006, Hoegh-Guldberg et al. 2007, Graham et al. 2013). In this chapter we examine the utility of adaptive management for novel ecosystems through the lens of coral reefs.

Item ID: 44435
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-94-017-9681-1
Keywords: adaptive management, novel ecosystems, coral reefs, ecology, uncertainty
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2016 02:08
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160507 Environment Policy @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 100%
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