Marine ecologist. PhD student. Naturalist & avid coastal explorer.
I enjoy being outside and exploring natural systems. That is why I've spent the past 10 years studying and working to become a marine ecologist. In my research, I strive to understand the ways in which humans alter these diverse environments and the ways in which we can repair or maintain biodiversity.
Applied understandings of environmental impacts
Natural systems are increasingly modified by human activity. Although my primary research focus is on marine systems, lessons from other systems can be learned and applied elsewhere.
The purpose of this board is to collect information that might help us predict outcomes of habitat alteration or manage current rates of degradation. Science is a collaborative, interdisciplinary field. Thus, our attempts to fix or maintain systems should be as well.
Abstract: Coastal degradation and habitat disruption are severely compromising sessile marine species. The fan shell Pinna nobilis is an endemic, vulnerable species and the largest bivalve in the Mediterranean basin. In spite of species legal protection, fan shell populations are declining. Models analyzed the contributions of environmental (mean depth, wave height, maximum wave height, period of waves with high energy and mean direction of wave source) versus human-derived stressors (anchoring, protection status, sewage effluents, fishing activity and diving) as explanatory variables depicting Pinna nobilis populations at a mesoscale level. Human stressors were explaining most of the variability in density spatial distribution of fan shell, significantly disturbing benthic communities. Habitat protection affected P. nobilis structure and physical aggression by anchoring reveals a high impact on densities. Environmental variables instead played a secondary role, indicating that global change processes are not so relevant in coastal benthic communities as human-derived impacts.
Pub.: 29 Jul '15, Pinned: 30 Nov '17
Abstract: Better stewardship of land is needed to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement goal of holding warming to below 2 °C; however, confusion persists about the specific set of land stewardship options available and their mitigation potential. To address this, we identify and quantify "natural climate solutions" (NCS): 20 conservation, restoration, and improved land management actions that increase carbon storage and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions across global forests, wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural lands. We find that the maximum potential of NCS-when constrained by food security, fiber security, and biodiversity conservation-is 23.8 petagrams of CO2 equivalent (PgCO2e) y(-1) (95% CI 20.3-37.4). This is ≥30% higher than prior estimates, which did not include the full range of options and safeguards considered here. About half of this maximum (11.3 PgCO2e y(-1)) represents cost-effective climate mitigation, assuming the social cost of CO2 pollution is ≥100 USD MgCO2e(-1) by 2030. Natural climate solutions can provide 37% of cost-effective CO2 mitigation needed through 2030 for a >66% chance of holding warming to below 2 °C. One-third of this cost-effective NCS mitigation can be delivered at or below 10 USD MgCO2(-1) Most NCS actions-if effectively implemented-also offer water filtration, flood buffering, soil health, biodiversity habitat, and enhanced climate resilience. Work remains to better constrain uncertainty of NCS mitigation estimates. Nevertheless, existing knowledge reported here provides a robust basis for immediate global action to improve ecosystem stewardship as a major solution to climate change.
Pub.: 29 Oct '17, Pinned: 21 Nov '17
Abstract: Better mitigation of anthropogenic stressors on marine ecosystems is urgently needed to address increasing biodiversity losses worldwide. We explore opportunities for stressor mitigation using whole-of-systems modelling of ecological resilience, accounting for complex interactions between stressors, their timing and duration, background environmental conditions and biological processes. We then search for ecological windows, times when stressors minimally impact ecological resilience, defined here as risk, recovery and resistance. We show for 28 globally distributed seagrass meadows that stressor scheduling that exploits ecological windows for dredging campaigns can achieve up to a fourfold reduction in recovery time and 35% reduction in extinction risk. Although the timing and length of windows vary among sites to some degree, global trends indicate favourable windows in autumn and winter. Our results demonstrate that resilience is dynamic with respect to space, time and stressors, varying most strongly with: (i) the life history of the seagrass genus and (ii) the duration and timing of the impacting stress.
Pub.: 03 Nov '17, Pinned: 21 Nov '17
Abstract: Climate change is projected to change the ecosystems on land and in the sea at rates that are unprecedented for millions of years. The most commonly used approach to derive projections of how ecosystems will look in the future are experiments on living organisms. By their nature, experiments are unlike the real world and cannot capture the ability of organisms to migrate, select and evolve. They are often limited to a select few species and drivers of environmental change and hence cannot represent the complexity of interactions in ‘real’ ecosystems. The fossil record is an archive of responses to climate change at a global ecosystem scale. If, and only if, fossil assemblage variation is combined with independent information of environmental changes, sensitives of species or higher taxa to a specific magnitude of change of an environmental driver can be determined and used to inform future vulnerabilities of this species to the same driver. While records are often fragmented, there are time intervals which, when thoroughly analysed with quantitative data, can provide valuable insights into the future of biodiversity on this planet. This review provides an overview of projected impacts on marine ecosystems including: (1) the range of neontological methods, observations and their challenges; and (2) the complementary information that palaeontologists can contribution to this global challenge. I advocate that, in collaborations with other disciplines, we should aim for a strong visibility of our field and the knowledge it can provide for policy relevant assessments of the future.
Pub.: 07 Nov '17, Pinned: 21 Nov '17
Abstract: Protected areas have become pivotal to the modern conservation planning toolbox, but a limited understanding of marine macroecology is hampering their efficient design and implementation in pelagic environments. We explored the respective contributions of environmental factors and human impacts in capturing the distribution of an assemblage of commercially valuable, large-bodied, open-water predators (tunas, marlins and mackerels).Western Australia.1997–2006.Pelagic fishes.We compiled 10 years of commercial fishing records from the Sea Around Us Project and derived relative abundance indices from standardized catch rates while accounting for confounding effects of effort, year and gear type. We used these indices to map pelagic hotspots over a 0.5°-resolution grid and built random forests to estimate the importance of 33 geophysical, oceanographic and anthropogenic predictors in explaining their locations. We additionally examined the spatial congruence between these hotspots and an extensive network of marine reserves and determined whether patterns of co-occurrence deviated from random expectations using null model simulations.First, we identified several pelagic hotspots off the coast of Western Australia. Second, geomorphometrics explained up to 50% of the variance in relative abundance of pelagic fishes, and submarine canyon presence ranked as the most influential variable in the North bioregion. Seafloor complexity, geodiversity, salinity, temperature variability, primary production, ocean energy, current regimes and human impacts were also identified as important predictors. Third, spatial overlap between hotspots and marine reserves was limited, with most high-abundance areas primarily found in zones where anthropogenic activities are subject to few regulations.This study reveals geomorphometrics as valuable indicators of the distribution of mobile fish species and highlights the relevance of harnessing static topography as a key element in any blueprint for ocean zoning and spatial management.
Pub.: 24 Aug '17, Pinned: 21 Nov '17
Abstract: Global change affects ecosystem functioning both directly by modifications in physicochemical processes, and indirectly, via changes in biotic metabolism and interactions. Unclear, however, is how multiple anthropogenic drivers affect different components of community structure and the performance of multiple ecosystem functions (ecosystem multifunctionality). We manipulated small natural freshwater ecosystems to investigate how warming and top predator loss affect seven ecosystem functions representing two major dimensions of ecosystem functioning, productivity and metabolism. We investigated their direct and indirect effects on community diversity and standing stock of multitrophic macro and microorganisms. Warming directly increased multifunctional ecosystem productivity and metabolism. In contrast, top predator loss indirectly affected multifunctional ecosystem productivity via changes in the diversity of detritivorous macroinvertebrates, but did not affect ecosystem metabolism. In addition to demonstrating how multiple anthropogenic drivers have different impacts, via different pathways, on ecosystem multifunctionality components, our work should further spur advances in predicting responses of ecosystems to multiple simultaneous environmental changes.
Pub.: 04 Nov '17, Pinned: 21 Nov '17
Join Sparrho today to stay on top of science
Discover, organise and share research that matters to you