THE CONSERVATION APPLICATIONS OF GLOBAL SCALE MODELING: A LOOK AT CLIMATE CHANGE AND BENTHIC BIOMASS DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE
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This project considers the conservation applications of global scale modeling by evaluating the impacts of climate change on benthic biomass distribution and abundance. Marine benthic organisms, the organisms buried in or living on the sea floor, comprise a range of invertebrate phyla, are largely immobile, have distributions and abundances tied directly to physical oceanographic characteristics and provide food and shelter for higher tropic levels. These characteristics suggest that changes in this single class of organisms related to large scale disturbances can be extrapolated to the ecosystem scale and provide guidance for marine conservation planning. Spatial models of benthic biomass abundance for 1997 and 2006 are compared to assess changes in benthic biomass. Changes are summarized within a number of politically and ecologically relevant boundaries. The study shows that, overall, modeled benthic biomass values were 17% lower in 2006 than in 1997, which suggests a potential decrease in benthic biomass due to climate change. However, resulting percent change estimates at smaller scales varied widely and were often unrealistically high. Thus while global scale models are effective at elucidating large scale trends, they are unlikely, on their own, to be useful in guiding conservation planning. In order to maintain biodiversity and ecosystem functionality in the face of climate change, conservation planners should use environmental analysis approaches that incorporate regional and global scale data to develop adaptive management techniques, such as protected areas with mobile boundaries, which foster ecosystem resilience.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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