PhD research: Setting thresholds for good status in marine ecosystem management
My PhD research is looking at how we set ecosystem thresholds which determine whether marine areas are in a good or degraded state. By monitoring ecological variables that are proxies for overall ecosystem health, we can get an idea of the state that an ecosystem is in, but defining the point at which that variable reaches a degraded state requires setting a threshold and the methods currently used to do this are not always clearly defined or quantitatively generated. By being able to identify which environments are degraded and which are healthy, governmental bodies can proactively implement ecosystem-based management approaches to improve or maintain the overall state of that area.
As the UN Ocean Decade
gets underway, nations are looking to improve the health of their marine environments but in order to do this there must be a logical, quantitatively robust method of determining the status of each marine ecosystem. Working groups across government advisory bodies are currently working on identifying these methods whilst also considering the impacts on ecosystem services, so the outcomes of this project will not only be relevant and beneficial for these conversations but will result in actionable research that could improve the way in which we manage our marine resources.