Photo: M. Troell
This theme aims to provide a broader and deeper understanding of the resilience and dynamics of marine social-ecological systems
Research within the marine theme looks at the dynamics of the marine social-ecological systems, and how they are connected to and shaped by processes acting at local and global scales. Research includes both tropical systems around Australia, Hawaii, the East coast of Africa and South East Asia, as well as temperate systems like the Baltic Sea.
Important research areas include:
- the dynamics of marine ecological feedbacks and regime shifts
- the management capacity of society and institutions
- emerging challenges
- exploring alternatives for sustainable development pathways
Topics include, for example, coral reef dynamics, governance of global, regional, national and local fisheries, sustainability of aquaculture, marine food web dynamics, social-ecological health assessments, and management implications of global trade dynamics and geopolitics.
The theme uses theories and methodological approaches from both natural science and social science. It critically seeks to improve and extend its analytic toolbox by continuously developing new transdisciplinary methodological frameworks. Researchers within the theme collaborate closely with several other themes at the Centre and leading international research institutes around the world, including Princeton and Stanford Universities, and the University of British Columbia.
Research news | 2016-04-21
New study in Nature Communications models global connectivity of the entire planet’s ocean surface
Research news | 2016-04-19
Announcing Global Sustainability, a new Open Access launch from Cambridge
Research news | 2016-02-25
Even in a reported Baltic Sea regime shift, not all parts of the system are affected
Research news | 2016-02-20
The key factors helping small scale fisheries after 2010 earthquake in Chile
Research news | 2016-02-15
Study investigates the science behind claims that fisheries support food security and help in poverty alleviation
Research news | 2016-01-22
PhD thesis looks at the social-ecological dynamics of long-term changes in the Baltic Sea
2016 - Journal / article
Planktonic communities are shaped through a balance of local evolutionary adaptation and ecological succession driven in large part by migration. The timescales over which these processes operate are still largely unresolved. Here we use Lagrangian particle tracking and network theory to quantify the timescale over which surface currents connect different regions of the global ocean. We find that the fastest path between two patches—each randomly located anywhere in the surface ocean—is, on average, less than a decade. These results suggest that marine planktonic communities may keep pace with climate change—increasing temperatures, ocean acidification and changes in stratification over decadal timescales—through the advection of resilient types.
2015 - Journal / article
In their article “Global trends in antimicrobial use in food animals” (1), Van Boeckel et al. provide important insights into antimicrobial use in terrestrial animal production. Although aquaculture was deliberately excluded from their study, some extreme facts on antimicrobial use in aquaculture were mentioned. Here we briefly complement their study with more up-to-date information about the present use and trends of antimicrobials in global aquaculture.
2015 - Journal / article
Ecological studies based on time-series often investigate community changes centered on species abundance or biomass but rarely expose the consequential functional aspects underlying such changes. Functional diversity measures have proven to be more accurate predictors for ecosystem functioning than traditional taxonomic approaches and hence gained much attention. There are only limited studies available that analyse the functional implications behind decadal changes of entire communities. We studied zoobenthic communities of two habitats, sheltered and exposed, of a coastal system subject to contrasting changes in community composition over the past four decades. Besides eutrophication and climate-related impacts, the system has been invaded by a non-native polycheate Marenzelleria spp., adding altered functional properties to the communities. The functional dispersion (FDis) metric was used as a measure for comparing the functional diversity of the contrasting habitats, with special focus on the role of Marenzelleria for the entire communities. We highlight changes in the functional identity of the communities, expressed as community-weighted means of trait expression (CWM), using multivariate techniques, and investigate the relationship between taxonomic and functional changes. Despite contrasting community developments in the two habitats, with characteristics traditionally suggesting different environmental quality, we found that the FDis in both habitats remained similar and increased with the introduction of Marenzelleria . Although showing maintained functional diversity across time and space, the functional identity (CWM) of communities changed irrespective of taxonomical differences. Examples include inter alia alterations in palatability proxies, feeding position and sediment transportation types, indicating changed functionality of zoobenthos in coastal systems. We show, when focussing on qualitative functional changes of communities, it is important to evaluate the underlying functional identity, and not only rely on measures of the diversity of functions per se, as the quality indication of expressed functional traits can be concealed when using multi-functionality approaches.
2015 - Journal / article
Efforts to attain good environmental status in the marine realm require decisions which cannot be done without knowledge of effects of different management measures. Given the wide diversity of marine ecosystems, multitude of pressures affecting it and the still poor understanding on linkages between those, there are likely no models available to give all the required answers. Hence, several separate approaches can be used in parallel to give support for management measures. We tested three completely different methods – a spatial impact index, a food web model and a Bayesian expert method. We found that a large uncertainty existed regarding the ecosystem response to the management scenarios, and that the three different modelling approaches complemented each other. The models indicated that in order to reach an improved overall state of the ecosystem nutrient reductions are the more effective of the two management variables explored, and that cumulative effects of the management of nutrient inputs and fishing mortality are likely to exist.
SPACES aims to understand the complex relationship between ecosystem services and the wellbeing of the poor in coastal Kenya and Mozambique. Read more here