8 Scientific Questions for Preserving Marine Ecosystems

Intertwined amongst the scientific publications in latest Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology is an essay harboring questions aimed at current environmental themes such as species management , climate change, and terrestrial ecosystems. The idea behind the essay, One Hundred Questions of Importance to the Conservation of Global Biological Diversity, is to evoke thoughts that will ultimately drive solutions for conservation practice and policy…in short protect biodiversity in the long-term.

And of the 100 most critical questions, 8 were organized under the section of Marine Ecosystem and are as follow:

  • How will ocean acidification affect marine biodiversity and ecosystem function, and what measures could mitigate these effects?
  • What are the ecological, social, and economic impacts resulting from the expansion of freshwater and marine aquaculture?
  • Which management actions are most effective for ensuring the long-term survival of coral reefs in response to the combined impacts of climate change and other existing stressors?
  • Which management approaches to fisheries are most effective at mitigating the impacts of fish extraction and fishing gear on nontarget species and their habitats?
  • How does the effectiveness of marine protected areas vary with biological, physical, and social factors and with connectivity to other protected areas?
  • What will be the impacts of climate change on phytoplankton and oceanic productivity, and what will be the feedbacks of these impacts on the climate?
  • How will multiple stressors, especially fishing, pollution, sea temperature fluctuations, acidification, and diseases, interact to affect marine ecosystems?
  • Which mechanisms are most effective at conserving biodiversity in ocean areas occurring outside the legal jurisdiction of any single country?

I anticipated an addressing of bycatch, climate change, and overfishing, but what I found most intriguing is the all encompassing question of the affect of multiple stressors on marine ecosystems.  This is akin to the model for the theory of everything as such an answer is the universal question.  The marine ecosystems are not defined by a single species or environmental threat, but are an interconnected world in which pollution, overfishing, bycatch, and declining biodiversity culminate in a determination of the state of our oceans.   The more stressors we continue to add to the list, the more difficulty we will have in maintaining healthy oceans.

About The Author

Scott serves as Director of Development & Communications for Audubon Canyon Ranch (focusing on preservation, education and conservation science) and has almost fifteen years of experience spanning for-profit and nonprofit sectors in biotech, wildlife conservation and management, communications, and philanthropy. In addition to a strong track record in organizational growth and leadership, he is the founder of Urban Bird Foundation and Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, and presided over ECHO Fund, a coastal protection and restoration organization, as President for four years. Scott holds an M.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Development and Policy, degrees in Micro & Molecular Biology and Environmental Sciences, and has complemented his studies with a Master's certificate in Environmental Resource Management.

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