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Marine Ecosystem Assessment for the Southern Ocean (MEASO)

By Andrew Constable1,2, Jess Melbourne-Thomas1,2, Rowan Trebilco2, Madeleine Brasier2

1 Australian Antarctic Division, Channel Highway, Kingston, Tasmania, 7050. Australia
2 Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Hobart, Tasmania, 7001. Australia

Abstract

A first Marine Ecosystem Assessment for the Southern Ocean (MEASO) is under development. MEASO aims to provide a forward-looking assessment of what trends in Southern Ocean ecosystems are happening now and into the future, and what may need to be planned for, in terms of research and management. The aim is to have a quantitative assessment that enables managers to achieve consensus in adapting their management strategies to ecosystem change.  MEASO officially began at an international conference held in Hobart in early April 2018 (http://www.measo2018.aq/). The conference provided an opportunity to share relevant science, enhance community input into the design and planning of the MEASO, and to develop a work plan.  Since the conference, summaries of information available for a MEASO have been compiled in order to determine what can be used to assess status and trends within the Southern Ocean on regional and circumpolar scales. This review includes a record of field programmes and ecological surveys, current Southern Ocean syntheses, model coverage and assessments. The types of biological data collected from the field programmes are also being summarised, based on an open, international survey of researchers.  For this survey, an indication of where and when national research programmes have conducted field work were requested, particularly for measures of density (abundance) for different taxonomic and functional groups within the benthos, pelagos and plankton as well as birds and marine mammals. To date 12 countries have contributed to the data survey, coverage of which can be viewed on the Southern Ocean Knowledge and Information wiki: http://soki.aq/display/MEASO/MEASO+Data+Availability.  The work program for the first assessment is detailed in the paper.

Introduction

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; http://acecrc.org.au/publication/southern-ocean-ecosystems/).  In this paper we summarise the MEASO conference, the first assessment and its four pillars, the timetable of the first assessment (first presented to WG-EMM-18/14), and a brief description of progress of the review of information available to undertake the first assessment

The MEASO Conference

The Conference on a Marine Ecosystem Assessment for the Southern Ocean (MEASO was held in Hobart, Australia on 9-13 April 2018.  It was hosted by the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre.  Major sponsors were SOOS, ICED, Pew Charitable Trusts, and WWF.  Other sponsors included COLTO, Austral Fisheries, Australian Longline, Tasmanian Polar Network, CSIRO, IMAS, NIPR.  The aims, background, themes, program and abstracts can be obtained from the conference web site: www.measo2018.aq.  The Local Organising Committee included 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, and Jake Wallis.   International program support was provided by Andrew Constable, Dan Costa, Karen Evans, Huw Griffiths, Julian Gutt, Eileen Hofmann , Nadine Johnston, Ian McDonald, Eugene Murphy, Yan Ropert-Coudert, Oscar Schofield, and Jan Strugnell.  Supporting Organisations included ICED; SCAR; SOOS; SCOR; IMBeR; and IMOS.

The conference addressed four themes of a MEASO 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 and early 2019.  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

June 2019

-          ICED Workshop on MEASO-I and Benchmarking (UK)

-          submission of report for publication

Review of available data and information

Since the conference, summaries of information available for a MEASO have been compiled in order to determine what can be used to assess status and trends within the Southern Ocean on regional and circumpolar scales. This review includes a record of field programmes and ecological surveys, current Southern Ocean syntheses, coverage of ecological models and assessments. The types of biological data collected from the field programmes are being summarised, based on an open, international survey of researchers.  For this survey, an indication of where and when national research programmes have conducted field work were requested, particularly for measures of density (abundance) for different taxonomic and functional groups within the benthos, pelagos and plankton as well as birds and marine mammals. To date 12 countries have contributed to the data survey, coverage of which can be viewed on the Southern Ocean Knowledge and Information wiki:

http://soki.aq/display/MEASO/MEASO+Data+Availability.

Contributors at present include: Irene Schloss (Argentina), Philippe Ziegler, John Kitchener, Karen Westwood, John van de Hoff, Colin Southwell, Nicole Hill (Australia), Evgeny Pakhomov (Canada), Cesar Cardenas, Humberto Gonzalez (Chile), Yan Ropert-Coudert (France), Julian Gutt, Santiago Pineda Metz. Bettina Meyer, Angelika Brandt, Helen Herr (Germany), Parli Bhaskar (India), Lillo Guglielmo, Iole Leonori, Marino Vacchi, Silvia Olmastroni (Italy), Tsuneo Odate (Japan), Matt Pinkerton (New Zealand), Azwianewi Makhado (South Africa), Martin Edwards, Phil Trathan, Sophie Fielding, Angus Atkinson (United Kingdom), Eileen Hoffman, Christian Reiss, Oscar Schofield, Jefferson Hinke (USA).

Contributors will be approached to participate in regional working groups later in the MEASO process.

Whilst reviewing major ecological syntheses, lead authors for chapters in the SCAR Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean were approached to summarise new findings since its publication in 2014. General themes presented by respondents included the acknowledgement of an improved understanding of the evolution of Antarctic fauna and environmental factors that influence species distribution. With an increase in the number of genetic-level investigations, many new species have since been discovered and/or described. With these results some biogeographic data presented in the Atlas may need updating. Contributors of summary information of what may need to be updated in the SCAR Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean included: Sèverine Alvain, Dave Barnes, Narissa Bax, Simone Brandão, J. Alistair Crame, Rachel Downey, Kai H. George, Julian Gutt, Graham Hosie, Falk Huettmann, Stefanie Kaiser, Juliana H.M. Kouwenberg, Susanne Lockhart, Sophie Mormède, Ute Mühlenhardt-Siegel, Alix Post, Ben Raymond, Yan Ropert-Coudert, Thomas Saucède, Kerrie M. Swadling, Josè Xavier, Wolfgang Zeidler.

This review is intended to help highlight, as part of MEASO, what gaps in knowledge might be priorities for addressing in the future.

What people can do

Contact MEASO using: measo2018@acecrc.org.au

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 (www.soki.aq). Parts of the MEASO pages are in the public domain:   http://soki.aq/display/MEASO

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.

References

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.

 

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