November 1 – Tipping points, recovery potential and baselines in marine systems

Large-scale changes in marine ecosystems with significant both environmental and economic consequences are observed in increasing numbers worldwide. Alterations in structure and functioning of marine ecosystems have been increasingly reported through the world in relation to overfishing, climate change and for example eutrophication. These pronounced and abrupt multi-trophic level reorganizations of large-scale ecosystems are usually termed ecosystem regime shifts. In my talk, I will provide an overview of some main reported regime shifts in marine ecosystems in relation to potential underlying mechanisms. To exemplify the existence of several potential ecosystem states, I will present the Baltic Sea as a case study, as it offers long-term monitoring data. My presentation will include results from state-of-the-art statistical analysis allowing the detection of non-linearity and thresholds in food-web interactions and their potential to recover. The results suggest that shifts in ecological and economic baselines can lead to higher economic uncertainty and costs for exploited ecosystems, in particular under climate change. Several research needs in the field of regime shifts, recovery and baselines will be discussed.

Speaker: Thorsten Blenckner

Thorsten is currently an Associate Professor and leader of the Marine Theme, at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden. He has a background in aquatic ecology, climate change and ecosystem processes and function.

October 11 – GeoDesign for “Effective” Stakeholder Engagement in Marine Spatial Planning

Marine spatial planning requires effective stakeholder engagement. For the last 12 years, my lab has been developing and implementing geospatial technologies to increase transparency and stakeholder involvement in marine spatial planning around the world. GeoDesign is a simple approach to designing data-driven spatial plans that seems particularly effective at engaging non-technical stakeholders. I will discuss how we have implemented GeoDesign methods in MarineMap and SeaSketch, two web-based applications used for marine planning. I will also discuss how we are tracking how users are using these tools and introduce the idea of using tradeoff models (and other optimization tools) to investigate the degree to which user-generated plans may be improved to meet science-based goals and objectives.

Speaker: Will McClintock

Will is originally from East Lansing, Michigan, and has studied Biology (B.S., Earlham College), Behavioral Ecology (M.S., University of Cincinnati), Psychology (M.A., Pacifica Graduate Institute) and Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology (Ph.D., University of California Santa Barbara). He has worked in over a dozen countries to support marine spatial planning in the form of stakeholder-friendly decision support tools.

October 4 – Precipitation Variability Effect on Primary Production: experimentation, modelling and data synthesis from local to global scale

My talk is focused on responses of arid to sub-humid ecosystems to climate change. The main objective of my research is to study how interannual variability of precipitation affects patterns of primary production and to determine which mechanisms govern such responses. In order to investigate cause-effect relationships between precipitation variability and ecosystem response, I carry out a large-scale manipulative experiment, participate in modeling projects, and analyze worldwide long-term data set. Results from these efforts show that interannual precipitation variability itself has a strong effect on primary productivity and that this relationship is independent from the effects of precipitation amount. At the local scale, precipitation variability effects vary among plant-functional types; and, at the global scale, dry sites respond positively and mesic sites respond negatively to increases in interannual precipitation coefficient of variation.

Speaker: Laureano Gherardi

Laureno is an ecosystem ecologist interested in mechanisms governing ecosystem responses to climate change at multiple temporal and spatial scales. In order to pursue this research he combines different complementary approaches ranging from field manipulative experiments to modeling efforts to synthesis of long-term archived data.