Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.


All of the publications created as part of the VECTORS project are listed below (latest first).
Please use the search box below to find a publication by title, author(s), year or keyword; the most relevant results will be displayed at the top of the page.

  • Jaerv, L., J. Kotta, I. Kotta and T. Raid. (2011). Linking the structure of benthic invertebrate communities and the diet of native and invasive fish species in a brackish water ecosystem. Annales Zoologici Fennici 48(3), 129-141.
    View abstract Recruitment variability of marine fish is influenced by the reproductive potential of the stock (i.e. stock characteristics and abundance) and the survival of early life stages, mediated by environmental conditions of both a physical (water temperature, salinity and oxygen conditions, ocean currents) and a biological nature (i.e. food, predators). The objective of this study is to assess the importance of variability in environmental conditions within different western Baltic cod spawning grounds for egg survival. Habitat identification was based on environmental threshold levels for egg survival and development and ambient hydrographical conditions at different times during the spawning season. The long-term resolution of environmental conditions allowing survival of western Baltic cod eggs indicates that favourable conditions predominantly occurred during the late spawning season in April/May, while minimum survival rates could be expected from January to March. Unsuitable time periods and habitats exhibiting the highest mortality rates are exclusively characterized by ambient water temperatures below the critical survival threshold. Despite the strong influence of water temperature on habitat suitability, the impact of habitat suitability on recruitment was not clearly defined, suggesting that other mechanisms regulate year class strength.
  • Goren, M., R. Gvili and B.S. Galil. (2011). The reef-associating butterfly fish Chaetodon austriacus Rüppell, 1836 in the Mediterranean: The implication of behavioral plasticity for bioinvasion hazard assessment. Aquatic Invasions 6(S1), 143-145.
    View abstract A single specimen of the blacktail butterflyfish, Chaetodon austriacus, one of the most common butterflyfishes in the Red Sea, was collected in the port of Ashdod, on the Mediterranean coast of Israel in August 2011. The present record demonstrates a greater than expected plasticity in habitat choice and feeding habits in a species considered an obligate corallivore. Recent records of Eritrean coral-reef associating species in the Mediterranean serve as a warning that life-history based bioinvasion risk assessment has limited predictability in cases where species have broader environmental tolerances than their native range would seem to indicate.
  • Deidun, A., S. Arrigo and S. Piraino. (2011). The westernmost record of Rhopilema nomadica (Galil, 1990) in the Mediterranean - off the Maltese Islands. Aquatic Invasions 6(Supplement 1), S99-S103.
    View abstract In late autumn and early winter of 2004, two individuals of the Erythrean alien Rhopilema nomadica were sighted at two locations off the Maltese Islands, marking the westernmost records of this species in the Mediterranean Sea. Since only two adult specimens were ever reported from Maltese waters, in the species has yet to establish a reproducing population in the Sicily Channel. The record is considered as yet another hallmark of the warming trend of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • MacKenzie, B.R., M. Eero and H. Ojaveer. (2011). Could seals prevent cod recovery in the Baltic Sea? Plos One 6(5), e18998. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018998
    View abstract Fish populations are increasingly affected by multiple human and natural impacts including exploitation, eutrophication, habitat alteration and climate change. As a result many collapsed populations may have to recover in ecosystems whose structure and functioning differ from those in which they were formerly productive and supported sustainable fisheries. Here we investigate how a cod (Gadus morhua) population in the Baltic Sea whose biomass was reduced due to a combination of high exploitation and deteriorating environmental conditions might recover and develop in the 21st century in an ecosystem that likely will change due to both the already started recovery of a cod predator, the grey seal Halichoerus grypus, and projected climate impacts. Simulation modelling, assuming increased seal predation, fishing levels consistent with management plan targets and stable salinity, shows that the cod population could reach high levels well above the long-term average. Scenarios with similar seal and fishing levels but with 15% lower salinity suggest that the Baltic will still be able to support a cod population which can sustain a fishery, but biomass and yields will be lower. At present knowledge of cod and seal interactions, seal predation was found to have much lower impact on cod recovery, compared to the effects of exploitation and salinity. These results suggest that dual management objectives (recovery of both seal and cod populations) are realistic but success in achieving these goals will also depend on how climate change affects cod recruitment.
  • Pasternak, G., R. Ziv, G. Eyal, S. Shefer, H.K. Mienis, O. Rittner and B.S. Galil. (2011). On the population of Chromodoris annulata Eliot, 1904 (Mollusca: Opistobranchia: Chromodorididae) off the Mediterranean coast of Israel. Aquatic Invasions 6(S1), 91-93.
    View abstract The Indian Ocean opisthobranch Chromodoris annulata was first noted off the Mediterranean coast of Israel in October 2009. Early occasional sightings of single specimens were followed by increasingly frequent reports of clusters of specimens. Our findings point to the presence of an established population along the Mediterranean coast of Israel.
  • Ojaveer, H. and M. Eero. (2011). Methodological challenges in assessing the environmental status of a marine ecosystem: case study of the Baltic Sea. Plos One 6(4). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019231
    View abstract Assessments of the environmental status of marine ecosystems are increasingly needed to inform management decisions and regulate human pressures to meet the objectives of environmental policies. This paper addresses some generic methodological challenges and related uncertainties involved in marine ecosystem assessment, using the central Baltic Sea as a case study. The objectives of good environmental status of the Baltic Sea are largely focusing on biodiversity, eutrophication and hazardous substances. In this paper, we conduct comparative evaluations of the status of these three segments, by applying different methodological approaches. Our analyses indicate that the assessment results are sensitive to a selection of indicators for ecological quality objectives that are affected by a broad spectrum of human activities and natural processes (biodiversity), less so for objectives that are influenced by a relatively narrow array of drivers (eutrophications, hazardous substances). The choice of indicator aggregation rule appeared to be of essential importance for assessment results for all three segments, whereas the hierarchical structure of indicators had only a minor influence. Trend-based assessment was shown to be a useful supplement to reference-based evaluation, being independent of the problems related to defining reference values and indicator aggregation methodologies. Results of this study will help in setting priorities for future efforts to improve environmental assessments in the Baltic Sea and elsewhere, and to ensure the transparency of the assessment procedure.
  • Ojaveer, H., J. Kotta, A. Põllumäe, M. Põllupüü, A. Jaanus and M. Vetemaa. (2011). Alien species in a brackish water temperate ecosystem: annual-scale dynamics in response to environmental variability. Environmental Research 111(7), 933-942. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2011.03.002
    View abstract Alien species contribute to global change in all marine ecosystems. Environmental variability can affect species distribution and population sizes, and is therefore expected to influence alien species. In this study, we have investigated temporal variability of 11 alien species representing different trophic levels and ecological functions in two gulfs of the brackish Baltic Sea in relation to environmental change. Independent of the invasion time, organism group or the life-history stage, abundance and/or biomass of the investigated alien species was either stable or displayed abrupt increases over time. Timing in population shifts was species-specific and exhibited no generic patterns, indicating that the observed large shifts in environmental parameters have no uniform consequences to the alien biota. In general, the inter-annual dynamics of alien and native species was not largely different, though native species tended to exhibit more diverse variability patterns compared to the alien species. There were no key environmental factors that affected most of the alien species, instead, the effects varied among the studied gulfs and species. Non-indigenous species have caused prominent structural changes in invaded communities as a result of exponential increase in the most recent invasions, as well as increased densities of the already established alien species.
  • Olenin, S., M. Elliott, I. Bysveen, P.F. Culverhouse, D. Daunys, G.B.J. Dubelaar, S. Gollasch, P. Goulletquer, A. Jelmert, Y. Kantor, K.B. Mezeth, D. Minchin, A. Occhipinti-Ambrogi, I. Olenina and J. Vandekerkhove. (2011). Recommendations on methods for the detection and control of biological pollution in marine coastal waters. Marine Pollution Bulletin 62(12), 2598-2604.
    View abstract Adverse effects of invasive alien species (IAS), or biological pollution, is an increasing problem in marine coastal waters, which remains high on the environmental management agenda. All maritime countries need to assess the size of this problem and consider effective mechanisms to prevent introductions, and if necessary and where possible to monitor, contain, control or eradicate the introduced impacting organisms. Despite this, and in contrast to more enclosed water bodies, the openness of marine systems indicates that once species are in an area then eradication is usually impossible. Most institutions in countries are aware of the problem and have sufficient governance in place for management. However, there is still a general lack of commitment and concerted action plans are needed to address this problem. This paper provides recommendations resulting from an international workshop based upon a large amount of experience relating to the assessment and control of biopollution.
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