Habitat dynamics at the catchment coast interface a digest
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habitat dynamics at the catchment-coast interface, a digest. Jan Vermaat, Alison Gilbert Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. Aim To summarise ELOISE findings on the dynamics of European coastal habitats, including the open high sea, for a range of end users.

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Habitat dynamics at the catchment coast interface a digest

habitat dynamics at the catchment-coast interface, a digest

Jan Vermaat, Alison Gilbert

Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

Aim

To summarise ELOISE findings on the dynamics of European coastal habitats, including the open high sea, for a range of end users.

TOC: approach / habitat? / findings / conclusions


Approach

approach

  • ‘digest’: a brief review (20 pp)

  • material: published output of ELOISE projects

  • method: draft subject to electronic discussion and two review cycles (external + internal within the consortium).


Habitat

habitat

  • Ecologists often use ‘habitat’ loosely in their M&M to indicate their working area

  • Textbooks offer different definitions: from ‘real places’ to ‘the spatial subdivision of the environment within an ecosystem into convenient units’ (Desmukh)

  • My favorite: Southwoods population-oriented approach, predictability in time and space scaled against life span and dispersal capacity


Habitat typology

habitat typology

  • Several exist. For the EC a typology has been developed entitled ‘EUNIS’

  • Has developed into a legal entity, with phonebook lists of categories and their area.

  • We aggregated EUNIS into 8 categories

http://eunis.eea.eu.int/


8 aggregate coastal habitat types

8 aggregate coastal habitat types

  • Cliffs, shingle beaches, kelp beds

  • Wetlands and dune complexes

  • Salt marsh

  • Sand-banks and mudflats

  • Seagrass beds

  • Lagoons

  • Subtidal sediments

  • Open sea pelagic


Dynamics

dynamics

  • We searched for ‘dynamics’ or variability, ..

  • Within habitat: internal, due to physical forcing at different time scales, tides, seasons, pluvials (sequences of years)

  • Between habitats: transition, externally forced or internal and cyclic


Findings 6 lengthy tables

findings: 6 lengthy tables

  • Much of ELOISE research has been devoted to biogeochemistry of nutrients, heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants (cf Ledoux et al.)

  • Still we found a substantial contribution:

    • Understanding natural dynamics (13 proj)

    • Understanding anthropogenic state change (27)

    • Provide indicators (13)


Findings 2

findings 2

  • Much of the work was focused on the open water,

  • particularly the upper fringe (cliffs, dunes and saltmarshes) was poorly represented in ELOISE projects


Findings 3 what happens to these habitats

{

findings 3: what happens to these habitats?

  • Mostly related to increased human use, directly or indirectly

This is an excerpt of a DPSIR analysis, idenitfying major driving pressures and their impacts in different European coastal seas


Findings 4 what have we learned

findings 4: what have we learned?


Conclusions

conclusions

  • coastal research occurred outside ELOISE as well, but received less attention…

  • Most of the work has ‘increased our understanding’. A clear focus has been on biogeochemistry of pollution and effects on plankton and benthos.

  • Three habitat types have been studied most intensively: the pelagic, lagoons, and mudflats + sandbanks.

  • Salt marshes, coastal dunes + wetlands and cliffs were under-represented within ELOISE, as was the Atlantic seaboard.

  • Major ongoing societal change across the EU will enhance the pressures affecting the extent and quality of coastal ecosystems.


Gaps for future research

gaps for future research

  • Comparative surveys of spatial pattern such as habitat mosaics and state transitions

  • The Atlantic seaboard and under-represented habitats

  • Fisheries and aquaculture effects

  • Europe-wide stock taking – research or monitoring -- EEA?

  • Disciplinary integration is ‘reaching secondary school stage’ but needs maturation

    Sweeping statement to close off: see the last paragraph of the digest (http://www.research.plymouth.ac.uk/marine-policy/eloise/index.htm)


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