Where does river runoff matter for coastal marine conservation?

Fredston-Hermann, Alexa, Brown, Christopher J., Albert, Simon, Klein, Carissa J., Mangubhai, Sangeeta, Nelson, Joanna L., Teneva, Lida, Wenger, Amelia, Gaines, Steven D., and Halpern, Benjamin S. (2016) Where does river runoff matter for coastal marine conservation? Frontiers in Marine Science, 3. 273. pp. 1-10.

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Excess sediment and nutrient runoff from land-based human activities are considered serious threats to coastal and marine ecosystems by most conservation practitioners, resource managers, fishers, and other "downstream" resource users. Deleterious consequences of coastal runoff, including eutrophication and hypoxia, have been observed worldwide. Literature on integrated coastal management offers numerous methods to address land-based activities that generate runoff, but many of these approaches are time- and resource-intensive. Often, high-level conservation managers have few tools to aid in decisions about whether land-based threats that generate runoff are of sufficient concern to warrant further investment in planning and management interventions. To address this decision-making process, we present a decision tree that uses geophysical and ecological characteristics to sort any marine coastal ecosystem into a category of high, moderate, low, or minimal risk from the land-based threats of nutrient and sediment runoff. By identifying situations where runoff could influence biodiversity or ecosystem services, the decision tree assists managers in making informed, and standardized decisions about when and where to invest further efforts in integrated land-sea planning. We ground-truth the decision tree by evaluating it in five very different regions and conclude the tree classifies regions similarly to the existing literature that is available, but based on less information. Recognizing that the decision tree only encompasses environmental variables, we also discuss approaches for interpreting the decision tree's outputs in local social and economic contexts. The tree provides a tool for conservation managers to decide whether the scope of their work should include land-sea planning.

Item ID: 48412
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2296-7745
Additional Information:

© 2016 Fredston-Hermann, Brown, Albert, Klein, Mangubhai, Nelson, Teneva, Wenger, Gaines and Halpern. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Funders: Nature Conservancy (NC), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), Department of Defence (DoD), USA
Projects and Grants: DoD National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2017 23:31
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960902 Coastal and Estuarine Land Management @ 50%
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