Simple rules can guide whether land- or ocean-based conservation will best benefit marine ecosystems

Saunders, Megan, Bode, Michael, Atkinson, Scott, Klein, Carissa, Metaxas, Anna, Beher, Jutta, Beger, Maria, Mills, Morena, Giakoumi, Sylvaine, Tulloch, Vivitskaia and Possingham, Hugh (2017) Simple rules can guide whether land- or ocean-based conservation will best benefit marine ecosystems. PLoS Biology, 15 9: e2001886. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.2001886

Author Saunders, Megan
Bode, Michael
Atkinson, Scott
Klein, Carissa
Metaxas, Anna
Beher, Jutta
Beger, Maria
Mills, Morena
Giakoumi, Sylvaine
Tulloch, Vivitskaia
Possingham, Hugh
Title Simple rules can guide whether land- or ocean-based conservation will best benefit marine ecosystems
Journal name PLoS Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1545-7885
Publication date 2017-09-06
Year available 2017
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.2001886
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 15
Issue 9
Start page e2001886
Total pages 22
Place of publication San Francisco, CA, United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Language eng
Subject 2800 Neuroscience
1300 Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
2400 Immunology and Microbiology
1100 Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Abstract Coastal marine ecosystems can be managed by actions undertaken both on the land and in the ocean. Quantifying and comparing the costs and benefits of actions in both realms is therefore necessary for efficient management. Here, we quantify the link between terrestrial sediment runoff and a downstream coastal marine ecosystem and contrast the cost-effectiveness of marine-and land-based conservation actions. We use a dynamic land-and seascape model to determine whether limited funds should be directed to 1 of 4 alternative conservation actions-protection on land, protection in the ocean, restoration on land, or restoration in the ocean-to maximise the extent of light-dependent marine benthic habitats across decadal timescales. We apply the model to a case study for a seagrass meadow in Australia. We find that marine restoration is the most cost-effective action over decadal timescales in this system, based on a conservative estimate of the rate at which seagrass can expand into a new habitat. The optimal decision will vary in different social-ecological contexts, but some basic information can guide optimal investments to counteract land-and ocean-based stressors: (1) marine restoration should be prioritised if the rates of marine ecosystem decline and expansion are similar and low; (2) marine protection should take precedence if the rate of marine ecosystem decline is high or if the adjacent catchment is relatively intact and has a low rate of vegetation decline; (3) land-based actions are optimal when the ratio of marine ecosystem expansion to decline is greater than 1:1.4, with terrestrial restoration typically the most cost-effective action; and (4) land protection should be prioritised if the catchment is relatively intact but the rate of vegetation decline is high. These rules of thumb illustrate how cost-effective conservation outcomes for connected land-ocean systems can proceed without complex modelling.
Keyword Sea-Level Rise
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID UQFEL1717597
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Mon, 11 Sep 2017, 13:51:16 EST by Ms Kirsty Fraser on behalf of School of Chemical Engineering