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 | 2016-06-23
Songwriter PJ Harvey provides inspiration for paper calling for radically new thinking within marine research
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
2016 - Journal / article
Fishery reform in North America and Europe has substantially improved the prospects for recovery of ecosystems affected by overfishing. Costello et al. (1) draw from lessons learnt and suggest, in their view, commonsense approaches for improved resource management, including fishing to maximize long-term catch and rights-based fishery management approaches that optimize economic values. They identify global prospects by 2050 and highlight 10 countries that constitute “the most compelling and urgent cases for fishery reform.” This important study has value to both scientist and decision makers, but its long-term and global perspective raises several questions in relation to where and how to prioritize future reform. We argue that the global scale has inherent dynamics that are not captured by simply aggregating national statistics. While international agreements are emerging to advance compliance and conservation (2, 3), globalization is also rapidly changing fisheries by concentrating production toward large and vertically integrated transnational corporations.
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.
SPACES aims to understand the complex relationship between ecosystem services and the wellbeing of the poor in coastal Kenya and Mozambique. Read more here