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The Resilience of Coastal Marine Ecosystems to Climatic Change

Paper Reviewed
O'Leary, J.K., Micheli, F., Airoldi, L., Boch, C., de Leo, G., Elahi, R., Ferretti, F., Graham, N.A.J., Litvin, S.Y., Low, N.H., Lummis, S., Nickols, K.J. and Wong, J. 2017. The Resilience of Marine Ecosystems to Climatic Disturbances. BioScience 67: 208-220.

Noting that gaining an understanding of the various factors that can either enhance or reduce the resilience of coastal marine ecosystems to changes in climate can be of great help to mankind by enabling us to help maintain such ecosystems under changing environmental conditions, O'Leary et al. proceed to describe how they surveyed numerous pertinent publications of 97 expert researchers who had studied six major types of coastal biogenic ecosystems in order to identify what they refer to as "bright spots of resilience" in the face of climate change, while also evaluating additional scientific literature that was recommended to them by the same stellar scientists. And what did they learn by so doing?

O'Leary et al. report that resilience was a commonly reported finding of fully 80% of the expert researchers. In fact, they write that "resilience was observed in all ecosystem types and at multiple locations worldwide." And they thus conclude that these findings suggest that "coastal ecosystems may still hold great potential to persist in the face of climate change and that local- to regional-scale management can help buffer global climatic impacts."

In concluding, therefore, O'Leary et al. say their results indicate that "although marine ecosystems face growing cumulative stress from coupled human perturbations and climatic instabilities, they still harbor enormous capability for resilience." And they thus propose that "maintaining and rebuilding this capacity should be a major focus of marine science and management."

Posted 18 July 2017