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.

  • Olenin, S., A. Narçius, D. Minchin, M. David, B.S. Galil, S. Gollasch, A. Marchini, A. Occhipinti-Ambrogi, H. Ojaveer and A. Zaiko. (2013). Making non-indigenous species information systems practical for management and useful for research: An aquatic perspective. Biological Conservation 173, 98-107. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2013.07.040
    View abstract Biological invasions attract increasing attention from scientists, policy makers and various management authorities. Consequently, the knowledge-base on non-indigenous species (NIS) continuously expands and so the number and availability of web resources on NIS rises. Currently there are more than 250 websites on NIS, ranging from global to regional and national. Many of these databases began as inventories of NIS, but evolved to include information on NIS origin, introduction history, pathways, vectors, and more. The databases have been used increasingly for scientific analyzes, though key information needs for bioinvasion management and research are only partially met. In this account we describe an advanced information system dealing with aquatic NIS introduced to marine, brackish and coastal freshwater environments of Europe and adjacent regions (AquaNIS). AquaNIS differs substantially from existing NIS information sources in its organizational principles, structure, functionality, and output potential for end-users, e.g., managing aquaculture or ship's ballast water. The system is designed to assemble, store and disseminate comprehensive data on NIS, and assist the evaluation of the progress made towards achieving management goals. With the coming into force of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and similar legislation addressing the problem of biological invasions, the availability of advanced, scientifically validated and up-to-date information support on NIS is essential for aquatic ecosystem assessment and management. Key issues related to electronic information systems, such as data management principles and long-term database maintenance, are discussed.
  • Onofri, L. and P.A.L.D. Nunes. (2013). Beach "lovers" and "greens": A worldwide empirical analysis of coastal tourism. Ecological Economics 88, 49-56. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2013.01.003
    View abstract This paper examines worldwide tourist coastal destination choice using a comprehensive global dataset at the country level, for both domestic and international tourists. This data includes a systematic profile of the countries' coastline with respect to economic and natural environments, such as marine biodiversity related indicators. Tourist demand is modelled using a system of simultaneous structural equations estimated by a 3SLS routine. We identify two tourist demand segments, denoting different preferences for the worldwide coastal destinations. International tourists choose their coastal destination because they have a strong preference for the cultural and natural environments. This, in turn, depends on the destination of country's coastal habitat abundance and marine biodiversity. We label this segment of coastal tourism, as "greens". Alternatively, domestic tourists have a preference for beach characteristics, in particular beach length. This in turn depends on anthropogenic pressure, the built environment and climatic variables. For this reason we interpret this tourism segment as "beach lovers". This information is, in turn, of high significance for stimulating coastal tourism demand as well as for identifying market based policy instruments with the objective to finance the conservation of environmental and cultural capital hosted at the coastal communities.
  • Rochette, S., O. Le Pape, J. Vigneau and E. Rivot. (2013). A hierarchical Bayesian model for embedding larval drift and habitat models in integrated life cycles for exploited fish. Ecological Applications 23(7), 1659-1676. doi:10.1890/12-0336.1
    View abstract This paper proposes a hierarchical Bayesian framework for modeling the life cycle of marine exploited fish with a spatial perspective. The application was developed for a nursery-dependent fish species, the common sole (Solea solea), on the Eastern Channel population (Western Europe). The approach combined processes of different natures and various sources of observations within an integrated framework for life-cycle modeling: (1) outputs of an individual-based model for larval drift and survival that provided yearly estimates of the dispersion and mortality of eggs and larvae, from spawning grounds to settlement in several coastal nurseries; (2) a habitat suitability model, based on juvenile trawl surveys coupled with a geographic information system, to estimate juvenile densities and surface areas of suitable juvenile habitat in each nursery sector; (3) a statistical catch-at-age model for the estimation of the numbers-at-age and the fishing mortality on subadults and adults. The approach provided estimates of hidden variables and parameters of key biological significance. A simulation approach provided insight to the robustness of the approach when only weak data are available. Estimates of spawning biomass, fishing mortality, and recruitment were close to the estimations derived from stock-assessment working groups. In addition, the model quantified mortality along the life cycle, and estimated site-specific density-dependent mortalities between settled larvae and age-0 juveniles in each nursery ground. This provided a better understanding of the productivity and the specific contribution of each nursery ground toward recruitment and population renewal. Perspectives include further development of the modeling framework on the common sole and applications to other fish species to disentangle the effects of multiple interacting stress factors (e.g., estuarine and coastal nursery habitat degradation, fishing pressure) on population renewal and to develop risk analysis in the context of marine spatial planning for sustainable management of fish resources.
  • Rothman, B.S., A. Shlagman and B.S. Galil. (2013). Saron marmoratus (Olivier, 1811), an Indo-Pacific marble shrimp (Hippolytidae, Decapoda, Crustacea) in the Mediterranean Sea. Marine Biodiversity Records 6, e129. doi:10.1017/S1755267213000997
    View abstract Saron marmoratus, a colourful Indo-Pacific 'marble shrimp', is newly recorded in the Mediterranean Sea from specimens recently photographed along the Israeli coastline. The colour pattern of the species is described and illustrated. It is the second Indo-Pacific hippolytid species recorded in the Mediterranean.
  • Sell, A.F. and I. Kröncke. (2013). Correlations between benthic habitats and demersal fish assemblages - A case study on the Dogger Bank (North Sea). Journal of Sea Research 80, 12-24. doi:10.1016/j.seares.2013.01.007
    View abstract The interdependence between groundfish assemblages and habitat properties was investigated on the Dogger Bank in the North Sea. Abiotic habitat parameters considered included topography, hydrographic conditions, sediment composition, and the biotic habitat variable the prevailing benthic invertebrates. Distinct epi- and infauna communities occurred at different locations on the Dogger Bank. Fish assemblages were clearly linked to both the biotic and abiotic habitat characteristics. Overall, fish and benthic communities revealed similar spatial distribution, represented in the respective clusters of characteristic and abundant species. Distribution patterns corresponded with the prevailing abiotic conditions such as depth and sediment composition, which appear to relate to autecological preferences of individual species. The apparently most generalist species, grey gurnard (Eutrigla gumardus) and dab (Limanda limanda) occurred at all stations and dominated in terms of biomass in most cases. The absolute numbers of grey gurnards were related to the abundance of suitable prey, invertebrate and fish species, which stomach analyses revealed as part of the diet in an independent study during the same research cruise. Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) and whiting (Merlangius merlangus) were only abundant at deep stations along the flanks of the bank. The occurrence of lemon sole (Microstomus kitt), American plaice (Hippoglossoides platessoides) and cod (Gadus morhua) was also positively correlated with depth, whereas especially lesser weever (Echiichthys vipera), sandeel species and solenette (Buglossidium luteum) occurred predominantly at the shallower sites. At the same time, individual fish species such as solenette and lesser weever were associated with high densities of selected epi- or infauna species.
  • Minchin, D., E.J. Cook and P.F. Clark. (2013). A list of alien brackish and marine British species. Aquatic Invasions 8(1), 3-19. doi:10.3391/ai.2013.8.1.02
    View abstract Ninety alien species have been identified from British marine and brackish environments; of which 58 are established. Their arrival has been principally due to shipping and imported consignments of cultured species. The majority of alien species were initially reported from the English Channel, with many subsequently spreading northwards to the North or Celtic Seas. The majority of aliens in Britain originate from the North Pacific (N=35), followed by the North-west Atlantic (N=22). Additional alien species may be expected as a result of continued trade, port, and marina developments. Alterations in climate and extreme weather events are likely to result in future changes to the distribution of marine and brackish water alien species around the British coast.
  • Megina, C., M.M. González-Duarte, P.J. López-González and S. Piraino. (2013). Harbours as marine habitats: hydroid assemblages on sea-walls compared with natural habitats. Marine Biology 160, 371-381.
    View abstract Sessile hydrozoans constitute a common component of marine rocky communities. We compared the hydrozoan assemblages occurring on sea-walls of commercial harbours with those on natural rocky cliffs along the southern Iberian Peninsula, to identify differences in the multivariate structure of the assemblages and species richness. Harbour hydroid assemblages significantly differed from natural ones mainly due to their qualitative composition. Medusa-less taxa, optimized for low dispersal and long-term persistence on the substratum, are barely represented in harbours, but abundant at natural sites. "Port species" assemblages were composed of (1) small, shortliving species with typical opportunistic characteristics; (2) cosmopolitan large-size taxa, significantly represented both in harbours and in natural habitats; (3) non-indigenous species. Contrarily to the expected lower richness of communities in confined areas, our results demonstrate that richness of hydroid assemblages
  • Nunes, P.A.L.D. and A. Ghermandi. (2013). The economics of marine ecosystems: reconciling use and conservation of coastal and marine systems and the underlying natural capital. Environmental and Resource Economics. doi:10.1007/s10640-013-9732-1
    View abstract The recognition of the degree to which human activities can affect and depend on the health and preservation of marine and coastal ecosystems, and their goods and services, is today an indisputable fact (Halpern et al. 2012). However, as recently as a few decades ago, the marine environment could still be regarded as an acceptable final sink for land-based activities because of its high resilience and adaptive capacity and consequently be treated as a "universal sewer", in the words of Jacques-Yves Cousteau when addressing the US House Committee on Science and Astronautics on 28 January 1971. As of today, such out-of-sight and out-of-mind approach is patently no longer tenable. Human endeavors such as commercial fishing, offshore drilling, shipping, wind farms, recreational uses, and aquaculture have brought unprecedented change to marine and coastal ecosystems worldwide, either directly or indirectly - as in the case of anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases and land runoff. Rising water temperature, ocean acidification, sea level rise, fisheries collapse, threats and severe degradation of entire marine habitats (such as coral reefs), and the increase in frequency and cumulative impacts of oil spills, harmful algal blooms and invasive species all bear the fingerprint of human activities (Frieler et al. 2012; Halpern et al. 2008; IPCC 2007; Pauly et al. 2002). The central role of the protection and adequate management of the marine environment resources in promoting sustainable development has been recently strongly reaffirmed in The Future We Want, the final resolution adopted by the General Assembly at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 (UN 2012). Out of the 283 paragraphs of the document, twenty are dedicated to the 'Oceans and Seas', stressing "the importance of the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and seas and of their resources for sustainable development, including through their contributions to poverty eradication, sustained economic growth, food security and creation of sustainable livelihoods and decent work, while at the same time protecting biodiversity and the marine environment and addressing the impacts of climate change"  (page 30, paragraph 158). This same document identifies the world's oceans and seas as one key priority area and confers an unprecedented preeminence to the protection of marine biodiversity, reaffirming "the decision X/2 of the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, held in Nagoya, Japan, from 18 to 29 October 2010, that, by 2020, 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services are to be conserved" (page 34, paragraph 177) by exploring the use of alternatives policy instruments, including marine protected areas (MPAs), and based upon the best available scientific information.
  • Magni, P., S. Rajagopal, S. Como, J.M. Jansen, G. van der Velde and H. Hummel. (2013). δ13C and δ15N variations in organic matter pools, Mytilus spp. and Macoma balthica along the European Atlantic coast. Marine Biology 160(3), 541-552.
    View abstract Stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope (SI) values of sedimentary organic matter (SOM), seston and two dominant bivalves, Mytilus spp. and Macoma balthica, were studied at 18 stations along the European coast in spring and autumn 2004. Three main regions, the Baltic Sea (BS), the North Sea and English Channel (NS), and the Bay of Biscay (BB), were tested for possible geographic (latitudinal) differences in the SI values. In spring, only BS showed lower d 13C values of seston and Mytilus spp., and higher δ15N values of SOM, than NS and BB. No significant differences between the 3 regions were found in autumn. Irrespective of season and regions, Mytilus spp. was more 13C-depleted than M. balthica. δ13C values of M. balthica, but not those of Mytilus spp., were significantly correlated with SOM. These results are consistent with differences in feeding behavior of Mytilus spp. and M. balthica, as the two species are known as obligatory-suspension and facultative-deposit feeders, respectively. In contrast, no differences in the δ15N values of Mytilus spp. and M. balthica were found at individual stations, indicating the same trophic level of the two bivalves within the food webs. At some stations, irrespective of geographic location, both bivalves showed δ15N values up to 18-20‰. These were two trophic levels higher than those found at the other stations, indicating local and/or episodic eutrophic conditions, probably due to waste water discharge, and the effectiveness of both Mytilus spp. and M. balthica as bio-indicators of anthropogenic eutrophication. Overall, our results suggest that pathways of energy flow from OM pools to dominant bivalves is more related to local environmental conditions than to geographic regions across the European coastline. This has implications for food web studies along the Atlantic coast because most of the values are consistent over a large area and show no significant differences. Therefore, the present study can be used twofold for the determination of trophic baselines and for the correction of the trophic position of consumers higher up in the food web in the case of differences in waste water discharge.
  • Tamburello, L., L. Benedetti-Cecchi, L. Masini and F. Bulleri. (2013). Habitat heterogeneity promotes the coexistence of exotic seaweeds. Oecologia 172(2), 505-513. doi:10.1007/s00442-012-2510-x
    View abstract Despite the progressive accumulation of exotic species in natural communities, little effort has been devoted to elucidating the mechanisms underpinning the coexistence of invaders in environmentally and biologically heterogeneous systems. The exotic seaweeds, Asparagopsis taxiformis and Caulerpa racemosa, exhibit a segregated distribution on Mediterranean rocky reefs. A. taxiformis dominates assemblages in topographically complex habitats, but is virtually absent on homogenous platforms. In contrast, C. racemosa achieves extensive cover in both types of habitat. We assessed whether differences in their distribution were generated by biotic interactions (between invaders and/or between invaders and natives) or by environmental constraints. Three models were proposed to explain seaweed distribution patterns: (1) invaders inhibit one another; (2) native assemblages, differing between complex and simple habitats, prevent the establishment/spread of one invader, but not that of the other; and (3) environmental conditions regulate the establishment/persistence of the seaweeds in different habitats. We removed the dominant invader and resident assemblages in each type of habitat. Moreover, A. taxiformis thalli were transplanted into the habitat dominated by C. racemosa to establish whether its failure to colonize the simple habitat was due to the lack of propagules or post-recruitment mortality. C. racemosa spread in the complex habitat was not influenced by the removal of resident assemblages, but it was slightly enhanced by A. taxiformis removal. Neither C. racemosa removal nor that of resident assemblages promoted A. taxiformis colonization and survival in simple habitats. Our results suggest that heterogeneity in environmental conditions can promote invader coexistence by mitigating the effects of negative biotic interactions. Therefore, the accumulation of introduced species in native communities does not necessarily imply established invaders fostering further invasion.
  • Weslawski, J.M., L. Kryla-Straszewska, J. Warzocha, J. Urbanski, M. Wlodarska-Kowalczuk and L. Kotwicki. (2013). How lonely they are? A degree of isolation among macrozoobenthos species in the Marine Protected Area, the Bay of Puck, the Southern Baltic. Oceanological and Hydrobiological Studies 42(3), 289-295. doi:10.2478/s13545-013-0085-8
    View abstract Extensive sampling (450 grabs) was performed all over the inner part of Puck Bay (105 km2 area) in summers of 2007-2009. The GIS-based analysis of samples was performed to assess in detail the distribution of 32 benthic species. The minimum area of occurrence was less than 1 km2 for Lekanosphaera rugicauda and the maximum was 83 km2 for Cerastoderma glaucum. The material reveals that species with the pelagic larval stage were most widespread, with the least distance between individuals and the highest average density (e.g. Cerastoderma glaucum, Hydrobia ventrosa). The most isolated and the least dense species within the studied area were discretely mobile, non-larval crustaceans (e.g. Gammarus oceanicus and Lekanosphaera rugicauda), present at single sites with the largest distance from each other. We conclude that analysis of species distribution helps in understanding the threats to populations of marine invertebrates and marine spatial planning, through locating the isolated species and populations.
  • Yahia, M.N.D., O.K. Yahia, S.K.M. Gueroun, M. Aissi, A. Deidun, V. Fuentes and S. Piraino. (2013). The invasive tropical scyphozoan Rhopilema nomadica Galil, 1990 reaches the Tunisian coast of the Mediterranean Sea. BioInvasions Records 2(4), 319-323. doi:10.3391/bir.2013.2.4.10
    View abstract The alien Erythraean jellyfish Rhopilema nomadica was first recorded in Tunisia waters (Gulf of Gabes) in 2008. Subsequently it was sighted in the Bizerte Channel and Gulf of Tunis where it has been regularly observed since 2010 during summer and autumn months.
  • Minchin, D. and A. Zaiko. (2013). Variability of the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) impacts in the Shannon River system. In: Nalepa, T.F. and D.W. Schloesser. Quagga and zebra mussels: biology, impacts and control. CRC Press, p.587-598.
    View abstract The biopollution assessment method was used to compare relative impacts of the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) across different regions (assessment units) in the Shannon River system, Ireland. The approach involved defininf the zebra mussel abundance and distribution range, as well as the impact of this species on communities, habitats, and ecosystems based on surveys and studies over the period 1997-2007. Zebra mussels were found associated with most habitat ranging from rocky shallows to soft sediments in depths to 37m. Abundance and biomass were greatest in lakes/reservoirs and lowest in rivers/canals, and impacts were greatest in assessment units having mainly lentic characteristics. Impacts involved total losses of unionids, declines in chlorophyll, and increases in rooted aquatic macrophytes. Variation in the magnitude of impact within each assessment unit depended upon specific features such as pH, available calcium, and most probably turbulence.
  • Somerfield, P.J. and R.K. Clarke. (2013). Inverse analysis in non-parametric multivariate analyses: distinguishing groups of associated species which covary coherently across samples. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 449, 261-273.
    View abstract For decades multivariate analysis has been recognised as being appropriate for the analysis and description of complex ecological datasets, such as are routinely generated in studies of biota along gradients in time or space. The main focus of analyses tends to be the description and analysis of patterns among samples and groups of samples. Early applications of multivariate analyses to ecological data also recognised the importance of, and gave equal weight to, understanding how variables (species or taxa, in biotic datasets) varied among samples and groups of samples, but such analyses have inherent difficulties. Among these are the facts that species do not vary independently of each other, that responses of species to gradients may not be monotonic, that there are generally many more species than samples, that abundances vary widely within and among species, and that some species are rare. Although some methods are routinely applied to explore species responses across and among samples to environmental gradients, few explicitly recognise that species do not vary independently. Within a very widely-used framework for the nonparametric multivariate analysis of ecological data we demonstrate how Similarity Profiles (SIMPROF) analysis and other approaches may be combined to analyse associations among species and to visualise those relationships. Type 2 SIMPROF determines whether observed associations could have arisen by chance. Type 3 SIMPROF detects statistically distinct subsets of species which respond to gradients in a coherent manner. How different groups respond is visualised using component line plots (coherent curves). We illustrate the method using a range of datasets. We show how the method discriminates groups of species which respond differently to a single gradient, or respond coherently to different environmental or anthropogenic pressure gradients. We demonstrate how these approaches extend naturally to analyses of other types of multivariate data where the identification of coherent groups of variables is of interest.
  • Trimoreau, E., B. Archambault, A. Brind'Amour, M. Lepage, J. Guitton and O. Le Pape. (2013). A quantitative estimate of the function of soft-bottom sheltered coastal areas as essential flatfish nursery habitat. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 133, 193-205. doi:
    View abstract Essential fish habitat suitability (EFHS) models and geographic information system (GIS) were combined to describe nursery habitats for three flatfish species (Solea solea, Pleuronectes platessa, Dicologlossa cuneata) in the Bay of Biscay (Western Europe), using physical parameters known or suspected to influence juvenile flatfish spatial distribution and density (i.e. bathymetry, sediment, estuarine influence and wave exposure). The effects of habitat features on juvenile distribution were first calculated from EFHS models, used to identify the habitats in which juvenile are concentrated. The EFHS model for S. solea confirmed previous findings regarding its preference for shallow soft bottom areas and provided new insights relating to the significant effect of wave exposure on nursery habitat suitability. The two other models extended these conclusions with some discrepancies among species related to their respective niches. Using a GIS, quantitative density maps were produced from EFHS models predictions. The respective areas of the different habitats were determined and their relative contributions (density x area) to the total amount of juveniles were calculated at the scale of stock management, in the Bay of Biscay. Shallow and muddy areas contributed to 70% of total juvenile relative abundance whereas only representing 16% of the coastal area, suggesting that they should be considered as essential habitats for these three flatfish species. For S. solea and P. platessa, wave exposure explained the propensity for sheltered areas, where concentration of juveniles was higher. Distribution maps of P. platessa and D. cuneata juveniles also revealed opposite spatial and temporal trends which were explained by the respective biogeographical distributions of these two species, close to their southern and northern limit respectively, and by their responses to hydroclimatic trends.
  • Llope, M., P. Licandro, K.-S. Chan and N.C. Stenseth. (2012). Spatial variability of the plankton trophic interaction in the North Sea: a new feature after the early 1970s. Global Change Biology 18, 106-117. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02492.x
    View abstract Traditionally, marine ecosystem structure was thought to be bottom-up controlled. In recent years, a number of studies have highlighted the importance of top-down regulation. Evidence is accumulating that the type of trophic forcing varies temporally and spatially, and an integrated view - considering the interplay of both types of control - is emerging. Correlations between time series spanning several decades of the abundances of adjacent trophic levels are conventionally used to assess the type of control: bottom-up if positive or top-down if this is negative. This approach implies averaging periods which might show time-varying dynamics and therefore can hide part of this temporal variability. Using spatially referenced plankton information extracted from the Continuous Plankton Recorder, this study addresses the potential dynamic character of the trophic structure at the planktonic level in the North Sea by assessing its variation over both temporal and spatial scales. Our results show that until the early-1970s a bottom-up control characterized the base of the food web across the whole North Sea, with diatoms having a positive and homogeneous effect on zooplankton filter-feeders. Afterwards, different regional trophic dynamics were observed, in particular a negative relationship between total phytoplankton and zooplankton was detected off the west coast of Norway and the Skagerrak as opposed to a positive one in the southern reaches. Our results suggest that after the early 1970s diatoms remained the main food source for zooplankton filter-feeders east of Orkney-Shetland and off Scotland, while in the east, from the Norwegian Trench to the German Bight, filter-feeders were mainly sustained by dinoflagellates.
  • Lodola, A., D. Savini and A. Occhipinti-Ambrogi. (2012). First record of Tricellaria inopinata (Bryozoa: Candidae) in the harbours of La Spezia and Olbia, Western Mediterranean Sea (Italy). Marine Biodiversity Records 5(e41), 1-7. doi:10.1017/S1755267212000309
    View abstract In summer 2010, a systematic survey was carried out in the harbours of La Spezia (Ligurian Sea) and Olbia (western Tyrrhenian Sea) with the aim of studying alien species in Italian commercial harbours. Biological samples were collected by replicate scraping on the concrete walls of docks at the beginning and at the end of the summer season. Identification to species level revealed the presence of Tricellaria inopinata, an invasive alien cheilostome bryozoan of Pacific origin, first introduced to Europe in the Lagoon of Venice (Italy) in 1982. Thereafter it has been reported in other ports in Britain, Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal, Tunisia, Ireland, Scotland, Germany and Massachusetts (USA). Its finding in the harbours of La Spezia and Olbia represents the first record of the species in the Ligurian Sea and in the western-central Tyrrhenian Sea, respectively. Commercial harbours are common sites of biotic invasions due to the presence of the most important vectors of alien species introduction, namely aquaculture, and shipping. The occurrence of T. inopinata in the harbours of La Spezia and Olbia is discussed, taking into consideration possible pathways of introduction into the western Mediterranean Sea, which very likely is the transfer of molluscs from the northern Adriatic (namely the Lagoon of Venice).
  • Jones, M.C., S.R. Dye, J.K. Pinnegar, R. Warren and W.W.L. Cheung. (2012). Modelling commercial fish distributions: Prediction and assessment using different approaches. Ecological Modelling 225, 133-145. doi:
    View abstract Species distribution models are important tools to explore the effects of future global change on biodiversity. Specifically, AquaMaps, Maxent and the Sea Around Us Project algorithm are three approaches that have been applied to predict distributions of marine fishes and invertebrates. They were designed to cope with issues of data quality and quantity common in species distribution modelling, and especially pertinent to the marine environment. However, the characteristics of model projections for marine species from these different approaches have rarely been compared. Such comparisons provide information about the robustness and uncertainty of the projections, and are thus important for spatial planning and developing management and conservation strategies. Here we apply the three commonly used species distribution modelling methods for commercial fish in the North Sea and North Atlantic, with the aim of drawing comparisons between the approaches. The effect of different assumptions within each approach on the predicted current relative habitat suitability was assessed. Predicted current distributions were tested following data partitioning and selection of pseudoabsences from within a specified distance of occurrence data. As indicated by the test statistics, each modelling method produced plausible predictions of relative habitat suitability for each species, with subsequent incorporation of expert knowledge generally improving predictions. However, because of the differences between modelling algorithms, methodologies and patterns of relative suitability, comparing models using test statistics and selecting a 'best' model are not recommended. We propose that a multi-model approach should be preferred and a suite of possible predictions considered if biases due to uncertainty in data and model formulation are to be minimised.
  • Lyons, D.A., R.C. Mant, F. Bulleri, J. Kotta, G. Rilov and T.P. Crowe. (2012). What are the effects of macroalgal blooms on the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems? A systematic review protocol. Environmental Evidence 1(Art: 7). doi:10.1186/2047-2382-1-7
    View abstract Anthropogenic activities are believed to have caused an increase in the magnitude, frequency, and extent of macroalgal blooms in marine and estuarine environments. These blooms may contribute to declines in seagrasses and non-blooming macroalgal beds, increasing hypoxia, and reductions in the diversity of benthic invertebrates. However, they may also provide other marine organisms with food and habitat, increase secondary production, and reduce eutrophication. The objective of this systematic review will be to quantify the positive and negative impacts of anthropogenically induced macroalgal blooms in order to determine their effects on ecosystem structure and functioning, and to identify factors that cause their effects to vary.
  • Benedetti-Cecchi, L., L. Tamburello, F. Bulleri, E. Maggi, V. Gennusa and M. Miller. (2012). Linking patterns and processes across scales: the application of scale-transition theory to algal dynamics on rocky shores. Journal of Experimental Biology 215, 977-985.
    View abstract Understanding how species and environments respond to global anthropogenic disturbances is one of the greatest challenges for contemporary ecology. The ability to integrate modeling, correlative and experimental approaches within individual research programs will be key to address large-scale, long-term environmental problems. Scale-transition theory (STT) enables this level of integration, providing a powerful framework to link ecological patterns and processes across spatial and temporal scales. STT predicts the large-scale (e.g. regional) behavior of a system on the basis of nonlinear population models describing local (e.g. patch-scale) dynamics and the interaction between these nonlinearities and spatial variation in population abundance or environmental conditions. Here we use STT to predict the dynamics of turf-forming algae on rocky shores at Capraia Island, in the northwest Mediterranean. We developed a model of algal turf dynamics based on density-dependent growth that included the effects of local interactions with canopy algae. The model was parameterized with field data and used to scale up the dynamics of algal turfs from the plot scale (20 20 cm) to the island scale (tens of km). The interaction between nonlinear growth and spatial variance in cover of turfing algae emerged as a key term to translate the local dynamics up to the island scale. The model successfully predicted short-term and long-term mean values of turf cover estimated independently from a separate experiment. These results illustrate how STT can be used to identify the relevant mechanisms that drive large-scale changes in ecological communities. We argue that STT can contribute significantly to the connection between biomechanics and ecology, a synthesis that is at the core of the emerging field of ecomechanics.
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