Ecological constraint mapping: understanding uutcome-limiting bottlenecks for improved environmental decision-making in marine and coastal environments

Sheaves, Marcus, Mattone, Carlo, Connolly, Rod M., Hernandez, Stephanie, Nagelkerken, Ivan, Murray, Nicholas, Ronan, Michael, Waltham, Nathan John, and Bradley, Michael (2021) Ecological constraint mapping: understanding uutcome-limiting bottlenecks for improved environmental decision-making in marine and coastal environments. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8. 717448.

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Abstract

Despite genuine attempts, the history of marine and coastal ecosystem management is littered with examples of poor environmental, social and financial outcomes. Marine ecosystems are largely populated by species with open populations, and feature ecological processes that are driven by multiple, interwoven, dynamic causes and effects. This complexity limits the acquisition of relevant knowledge of habitat characteristics, species utilisation and ecosystem dynamics. The consequence of this lack of knowledge is uncertainty about the link between action taken and outcome achieved. Such uncertainty risks misdirected human and financial investment, and sometimes may even lead to perverse outcomes. Technological advances offer new data acquisition opportunities, but the diversity and complexity of the biological and ecological information needed to reduce uncertainty means the increase in knowledge will be slow unless it is undertaken in a structured and focussed way. We introduce “Ecological Constraint Mapping” – an approach that takes a “supply chain” point of view and focusses on identifying the principal factors that constrain life-history outcomes (success/productivity/resilience/fitness) for marine and coastal species, and ultimately the quality and resilience of the ecosystems they are components of, and the life-history supporting processes and values ecosystems provide. By providing a framework for the efficient development of actionable knowledge, Ecological Constraint Mapping can facilitate a move from paradigm-based to knowledge-informed decision-making on ecological issues. It is suitable for developing optimal solutions to a wide range of conservation and management problems, providing an organised framework that aligns with current perspectives on the complex nature of marine and coastal systems.

Item ID: 70185
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2296-7745
Keywords: coastal, decision-making, estuary, fish, framework, habitat
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2021 Sheaves, Mattone, Connolly, Hernandez, Nagelkerken, Murray, Ronan, Waltham and Bradley. 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) and the copyright owner(s) 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.
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2021 23:30
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180201 Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems @ 100%
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