Publications

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2016
Cloern, JE, Abreu PC, Carstensen J, Chauvaud L, Elmgren R, Grall J, Greening H, Johansson JOR, Kahru M, Sherwood ET, Xu J, Yin KD.  2016.  Human activities and climate variability drive fast-paced change across the world's estuarine-coastal ecosystems. Global Change Biology. 22:513-529.   10.1111/gcb.13059   AbstractWebsite

Time series of environmental measurements are essential for detecting, measuring and understanding changes in the Earth system and its biological communities. Observational series have accumulated over the past 2-5 decades from measurements across the world's estuaries, bays, lagoons, inland seas and shelf waters influenced by runoff. We synthesize information contained in these time series to develop a global view of changes occurring in marine systems influenced by connectivity to land. Our review is organized around four themes: (i) human activities as drivers of change; (ii) variability of the climate system as a driver of change; (iii) successes, disappointments and challenges of managing change at the sea-land interface; and (iv) discoveries made from observations over time. Multidecadal time series reveal that many of the world's estuarine-coastal ecosystems are in a continuing state of change, and the pace of change is faster than we could have imagined a decade ago. Some have been transformed into novel ecosystems with habitats, biogeochemistry and biological communities outside the natural range of variability. Change takes many forms including linear and nonlinear trends, abrupt state changes and oscillations. The challenge of managing change is daunting in the coastal zone where diverse human pressures are concentrated and intersect with different responses to climate variability over land and over ocean basins. The pace of change in estuarine-coastal ecosystems will likely accelerate as the human population and economies continue to grow and as global climate change accelerates. Wise stewardship of the resources upon which we depend is critically dependent upon a continuing flow of information from observations to measure, understand and anticipate future changes along the world's coastlines.

2011
McQuatters-Gollop, A, Reid PC, Edwards M, Burkill PH, Castellani C, Batten S, Gieskes W, Beare D, Bidigare RR, Head E, Johnson R, Kahru M, Koslow JA, Pena A.  2011.  Is there a decline in marine phytoplankton? Nature. 472:E6-E7.   10.1038/nature09950   AbstractWebsite

Phytoplankton account for approximately 50% of global primary production, form the trophic base of nearly all marine ecosystems, are fundamental in trophic energy transfer and have key roles in climate regulation, carbon sequestration and oxygen production. Boyce et al. compiled a chlorophyll index by combining in situ chlorophyll and Secchi disk depth measurements that spanned a more than 100-year time period and showed a decrease in marine phytoplankton biomass of approximately 1% of the global median per year over the past century. Eight decades of data on phytoplankton biomass collected in the North Atlantic by the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) survey, however, show an increase in an index of chlorophyll (Phytoplankton Colour Index) in both the Northeast and Northwest Atlantic basinsFig. 1), and other long-term time series, including the Hawaii Ocean Time-series (HOT)8, the Bermuda Atlantic Time Series (BATS)8 and the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI)9 also indicate increased phytoplankton biomass over the last 20–50 years. These findings, which were not discussed by Boyce et al.1, are not in accordance with their conclusions and illustrate the importance of using consistent observations when estimating long-term trends.

2008
Barlow, J, Kahru M, Mitchell BG.  2008.  Cetacean biomass, prey consumption, and primary production requirements in the California Current ecosystem. Marine Ecology-Progress Series. 371:285-295.   10.3354/meps07695   AbstractWebsite

To better understand the role played by cetaceans as top-level predators in the California Current ecosystem, we estimate the fraction of annual net primary production (NPP) required to support the prey consumed by cetaceans, using a simple trophic transfer model. The biomass of cetacean species in the California Current is calculated as the product of their mean summer and fall abundance during 1991, to 2005 and estimates of mean mass ind.(-1). Total prey consumption by cetaceans is estimated from a mass-specific consumption model. NPP is estimated from remote satellite measurements using the Behrenfeld-Falkowski vertically-generalized production model for each of 4 geographic regions. The total biomass of baleen whales exceeds the biomass of toothed whales by a factor of similar to 2.5; however, the estimated prey consumption by these taxa is nearly equal. Assuming 10% trophic transfer efficiency, cetaceans are estimated to require 32.2 g C m(-2) yr(-1) of primary production, or similar to 12 % of the NPP in the study area, to sustain the prey that they directly consume. Because they feed at a lower trophic level, the primary production requirement (PPR) of baleen whales is similar to 13 % of that of toothed whales, despite their 2.5-fold greater biomass. Uncertainty in trophic transfer efficiency results in the greatest uncertainty in estimating PPR for these upper trophic predators.