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Marine Ecosystem Assessment for the Southern Ocean

Brief Report, June 2018, By Andrew Constable (AAD)

The Conference

Held in Hobart, Australia on 9-13 April 2018

Hosted by the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre. Major sponsors were SOOS, ICED, Pew Charitable Trusts, WWF. Other sponsors included COLTO, Austral Fisheries, Australian Longline, Tasmanian Polar Network, CSIRO, IMAS, NIPR.
Aims, background, themes, program and abstracts can be obtained from the conference web site:

Local Organising Committee

Andrew Constable, Phil Boyd, Indi Hodgson-Johnston, So Kawaguchi, Stacey McCormack, Klaus Meiners, Jess Melbourne-Thomas, David Reilly, Kerrie Swadling, Wenneke ten Hout, Rowan Trebilco, Jake Wallis

International Program Support

Andrew Constable, Dan Costa, Karen Evans, Huw Griffiths, Julian Gutt, Eileen Hofmann , Nadine Johnston, Ian McDonald, Eugene Murphy, Yan Ropert-Coudert, Oscar Schofield, Jan Strugnell

Supporting Organisations: ICED; SCAR; SOOS; SCOR; IMBeR; IMOS

What is a MEASO?

A Marine Ecosystem Assessment for the Southern Ocean (MEASO) is a quantitative assessment of the status and trends of habitats, species and food webs in different regions. It aims to provide a common foundation for all end-users on which science can be developed, and policies and decisions can be made. It is intended to enable managers to achieve consensus in adapting their management strategies to ecosystem change, in order to continue to achieve their objectives for ecosystems.
A recent analysis by the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (illustrated to the right) explains the importance of a MEASO (Constable et al, 2017;
The Conference
Four themes of a MEASO were considered over 4 days: (1) assessments, (2) responses of biota to change, (3) modelling and analytical methods, and (4) observations for underpinning assessments. A one-day policy forum considered the delivery of science into policy.
173 people attended from 23 countries. (75 women, 98 men). Early careers researchers (APECS) were well represented (57) and contributed greatly.

MEASO-I and its four pillars

A first MEASO is to proceed in 2018. It will build on existing reviews (e.g. Constable et al 2014; Gutt et al 2015), SCAR’s Antarctic Climate Change and Environment report (Turner et al 2009) and the SCAR Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean (de Broyer et al 2014). It will collate knowledge and assessments ready to hand, particularly to assist the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and to provide community input to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The process will then be reviewed to enable improvements in a second cycle over 5-7 years.
The four pillars to deliver a MEASO are: (i) methods for facilitating delivery of the information to non-scientific end-users, (ii) ecologies of key taxa in the ecosystem and their responses to changing habitats, (iii) field observations of status and, where possible, trends in biota, and (iv) methods for analysing distribution, status and trends as well as for modelling the past, present and future.

MEASO-I Timetable

June-July 2018

- design summary reports
- compile summaries of survey activities
- manuscript on MEASO approach

June-August 2018

- science strategy for MEASO (manuscript)
- taxa summaries using templates (status, ecology)
- literature on status of Southern Ocean ecosystems

September-November 2018

- progress report to SC-CAMLR
- feasible analyses & projections of change
- regional reports - habitats, species and food webs

December 2018 - January 2019

- peer-review of reviews and analyses

February-March 2019

- complete drafts following review
- summaries of results for end-users

April-May 2019

- reviews and feedback on draft report
- Workshop on MEASO-I and Benchmarking

June 2019

- submission of report for publication

What people can do

Contact MEASO using:
All Antarctic and Southern biological/ecological researchers are encouraged to be involved in MEASO. The MEASO report will be developed in a part of the Southern Ocean Knowledge and Information (SOKI) wiki ( Parts of the MEASO pages are in the public domain:
Interested people can help with content by signing up to SOKI and working in the fully protected space. Sign up by request through the MEASO email above.


Turner, J., R. Bindschadler, P. Convey, G. di Prisco, E. Fahrbach, J. Gutt, D. Hodgson, P. Mayewski and C. Summerhayes, Eds. (2009). Antarctic climate change and the environment. SCAR, Cambridge, UK.
De Broyer, C., P. Koubbi, H. Griffiths, B. Raymond, C. d'Udekem d'Acoz, A. Van de Putte, B. Danis, B. David, S. Grant, J. Gutt, C. Held, G. Hosie, F. Huettmann, A. Post and Y. Ropert-Coudert (2014). Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean. SCAR, Cambridge UK.
Constable, A. J., J. Melbourne-Thomas, S. P. Corney, et al. (2014). Climate change and Southern Ocean ecosystems I: how changes in physical habitats directly affect marine biota. Global Change Biology 20(10): 3004-3025.
Constable, A. J., J. Melbourne-Thomas, R. Trebilco, A. J. Press and M. Haward (2017). Managing change in Southern Ocean ecosystems. Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Hobart, Australia.
Gutt, J., N. Bertler, T. J. Bracegirdle, A. Buschmann, J. Comiso, G. Hosie, E. Isla, I. R. Schloss, C. R. Smith, J. Tournadre and J. C. Xavier (2015). The Southern Ocean ecosystem under multiple climate change stresses - an integrated circumpolar assessment. Global Change Biology 21(4): 1434-1453.