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3 Stressors Impacting Coastal and Ocean Ecosystem Services and Human Health This chapter provides a summary of presentations outlining stressors that can impact coastal and ocean ecosystem services and possible management decisions and prevention strategies. The first presentation describes how ecosystem stressorsâfocusing on rising temperatures, eutrophication, ocean acidification, habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity, and extreme weather eventsâcan modify ecosystem services and impact human health. The second presentation describes a framework to allow decision makers to optimize interventions for managing stressors to marine ecosystems in order to maximize the services that will positively impact human well-being. The third presentation provides an agency perspective (U.S. Geological Survey [USGS]) on the role of science in resource management decisions related to ecosystem services. The presentations are followed by a summary of the discussion that ensued. RELATIONSHIPS AMONG STRESSORS, ECOSYSTEM SERVICES, AND HUMAN HEALTH Paul A. Sandifer, Ph.D. Chief Science Advisor, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Paul A. Sandifer prefaced his remarks by reiterating the four types of ecosystem services described in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA, 2005): supporting, provisioning, regulating, and cultural services. All of these services impact human well-being. Health is one specific component of well-being; other components are security, material, and 23
24 ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND HUMAN HEALTH social relations. Together, these contribute to human health and well- being. Sandifer explained that his presentation is on ecosystem stressors and how those stressors impact changes in ecosystem services, and the ultimate impacts on human health. Health effects, Sandifer said, can be the result of a single stressor, but typically stressors tend to have interacting effects, some antagonistic and some synergistic. However, the greatest likelihood is for stressors to have negative effects on services and ultimately on health outcomes. He pointed out that the presentation would consider the effects of five interacting stressors: rising temperatures, nutrient enrichment, ocean acidification, habitat destruction and its accompanying loss of biodiversity, and extreme weather events and their potential impacts on human health. Rising Temperatures Sandifer began the discussion of rising temperatures by suggesting that as the earthâs climate warms, heat stress would become a more serious human health problem (see Figure 3-1). Already, health impacts, especially among the elderly, have been seen with more frequent and intense heat waves. In addition to the direct impacts of heat on humans, there are additional impacts of rising temperatures on ecosystems and on the ecosystem services associated with them. Sandifer described research by Cheung and colleagues (2013), who conducted theoretical studies on more than 600 species of marine fish to evaluate the likely effects of increasing temperatures associated with climate change. Based on the results of their work, the authors suggest that with rising water temperatures, fish populations change in distribution, phenology, and productivity. Average fish body size is also likely to be reduced. According to the study, fish are likely to decrease in size on average by 14 to 24 percent by 2050. This is because global warming will reduce the amount of oxygen in the oceans, and this may also result in dwindling fish catches. Together with overfishing, pollution, and other stresses, these effects may spell additional trouble for the global protein supply in a time of growing need, Sandifer said. Another impact of rising temperatures relates to food safety. Seafood poisonings are estimated to be underreported, often misdiagnosed, and may be increasing. Pathogenic Vibrio is one cause of seafood poisoning. A number of outbreaks in oyster beds in the Gulf of Mexico, New York,
STRESSORS 25 FIGUR 3-1 Anticip RE pated impacts of rising temp eratures on ecosystem servic ces and hum health. man SOURC Sandifer, 2012. CE: 2 Oregon and Washin n, ngton have be associated with Vibrio parahaemoly een d o yt- icus. During a perio of unusual warm wat D od lly ters in 2004, oyster farms in Prince William Sou e und, Alaska were devastat by an outb w ted break of high hly virulen V. parahaem nt molyticus. The outbreak res e sulted in 62 co onfirmed humman cases (McLaughlin et al., 2005) plus others in marine m n ) mammals. In t the Gulf of Mexico, V. vulnificus is a main cause of wound in o e nfections amon ng seafoo workers. An estimated 200 deaths w attributed to V. vulnific od A were d cus from 1989 to 2004. Illnesses asso 1 ociated with th hese Vibrio sp pecies were n not require to be repor to the Ce ed rted enters for Dis ease Control and Prevention (CDC) on a nationa basis until 2007; thus, it is estimated t ) al 2 that the numb ber of infe ections is likely higher than the CDC an n nnually report (CDC, 2012 ts 2). Shellfi beds are ty ish ypically closed when there is evidence of contamination d by Vib brio or other infectious organisms. S r o Such closures can serious s sly underm public tr in the saf and health qualities of seafood. mine rust fety hful s Th distribution and occurr he rence of zoo notic disease may also be es influennced by tem mperature and other clima d ate-related faactors. Sandif fer describ two rece examples related to th fungal dise bed ent he eases lacaziossis (previoously called lobomycosis) and Cryptoc l ) coccus gattii.1 Both of the ese 1 Lacazziosis a tropica fungal diseas typically rep al se ported in dolph and human hins ns. Cryptococcus gattii is an uncommo fungal patho i on ogen that affec the lungs a cts and can res in death. sult
26 ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND HUMAN HEALTH diseases have been found in marine mammals, as well as humans, and appear to be moving northward. Whether this distributional shift is related to climate change is at present unknown, but the diseases are serious and now appear in places and species where they had not been previously seen. Another zoonotic case of concern Sandifer described was reported by Anthony and colleagues (2012). This case involved harbor seals and avian flu. Between September and December 2011, 162 New England harbor seals died from pneumonia. Postmortem analysis showed the presence of avian influenza virus (H3N8) that was similar to a strain known to be circulating in North American waterfowl since about 2002. The case resulted in a federally recognized unusual mortality event (UME).2 The authors noted that the outbreak was significant, not only because of the disease it caused in seals, but also because the virus had naturally acquired mutations known to increase transmissibility and virulence in mammals. They emphasized that monitoring the spillover and adaptation of avian viruses in mammalian species is critically important for understanding the factors that lead to both epizootic and zoonotic emergence. Nutrient Pollution Sandifer discussed nutrient pollution, another important stressor that causes many problems for coastal and marine environments, including hypoxia and harmful algal blooms (HABs), also known as red tides. Red tides are perhaps the most commonly known HAB, but there are others. Eutrophication, or the overenrichment of water by nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, leads to hypoxia and may increase the occurrence of HABs. These environmental conditions are growing problems worldwide and pose significant human and environmental health risks and can have significant economic impacts, Sandifer said. Although HABs are most common in coastal and ocean waters, some HABs can occur in the Great Lakes and a variety of other freshwater lakes and ponds. HABs produce potent neurotoxins that can cause a variety of serious illnesses and even death among marine organisms. 2 A UME is defined under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, Section 404, as a stranding that is unexpected, involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population, and demands immediate response. See http://www. nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/laws/mmpa.pdf (accessed September 9, 2013).
STRESSORS 27 HABs are also toxic to humans, causing a number of illnesses (gastrointestinal, respiratory, neurological, cognitive) and even death. HABs are associated with amnesic shellfish poisoning, ciguatera fish poisoning, diarrheic shellfish poisoning, neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, and paralytic shellfish poisoning. Exposure to HAB toxins can occur via water, seafood (especially filter-feeding molluscan shellfish and some fish), and through aerosols in sea spray. Aerosolized toxins of the Florida red tide Karenia brevis have been known to be carried onto beaches and several miles inland where they can cause respiratory system irritation and distress for people, especially those with asthma. The economic cost of HABs over the past decade has been conservatively estimated at about $1 billion (Jewett et al., 2008). However, the unknown costs in illness, lost productivity, recreational, and other impacts are probably much, much greater, Sandifer said. HABs pose risks not only for marine life and humans but also for birds and nonmarine mammals. For example, sea birds may be affected by eating HAB-contaminated shellfish or fish (Landsberg et al., 2009). At one point during 2009, officials recommended that visitors not bring dogs to the Padre Island National Seashore as dogs and coyotes had become ill or died possibly as a result of consuming fish that had been killed by a red tide, Sandifer said. Sandifer noted that there is growing evidence for multiple species of HABs and geographic areas, suggesting that a warming climate will result in increased frequency, duration, and geographic extent of HABs (Gilbert et al., 2005; Van Dolah, 2000). For example, Moore and colleagues (2008, 2011) estimated that the window of opportunity for blooms of the toxic alga Alexandrium catanella, which produces saxitoxin, a paralytic toxin, will increase by 13 days on average, begin up to 2 months earlier, and will persist for up to an additional month by the end of the century. In other work, Sun and colleagues (2011) found that increases in dissolved carbon dioxide and reduced phosphate levels, as observed in ocean waters, can increase growth of the toxic diatom Pseudo-nitzschia and production of its toxin, domoic acid, which causes amnesic shellfish poisoning in humans. Sandifer noted that recent coastal surveys of the United States and Europe found that 78 percent of the assessed continental U.S. coastal area and approximately 65 percent of Europeâs Atlantic coast exhibit symptoms of eutrophication and the problem is growing at alarming rates (Diaz and Rosenberg, 2008). In the United States the three largest hypoxic zones are the Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay, and Lake
28 ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND HUMAN HEALTH Erie. In general, nutrient pollution of coastal areas is an important issue and may impact coastal ecosystems services in many ways, including decreases in clean water, safe food, breathable air, and coastal recreational opportunities, Sandifer said. Ocean Acidification Sandifer observed that ocean waters are now 30 percent more acidic than preindustrial levels (NOAA, 2013). This increased acidity is having negative effects on ocean organisms. Sandifer described a recent meta- analysis (Kroeker et al., 2010) that found ocean acidification to have negative effects on survival, calcification, growth, and reproduction of a variety of marine organisms. The study also found significant variation in the sensitivity of marine organisms. Calcifying organisms (e.g., corals, mussels, phytoplankton) generally exhibited larger negative responses than noncalcifying organisms across numerous response variables, with the exception of crustaceans, which calcify but were not negatively affected. Corals, in particular, are negatively affected by ocean acidification. Molluscan shellfish also exhibit a negative response to ocean acid- ification, which threatens the availability and economic benefit of this type of seafood. The aesthetic benefits of coral reefs and the ecotourism opportunities are also affected by ocean acidification. Sandifer provided an example of the impact of ocean acidification on a specific ecosystem service, the production of farmed oysters in the Pacific Northwest. Oyster hatcheries in this area that were on the verge of collapse a few years ago are now again major contributors to the West Coast shellfish industry, he said. Beginning in 2005, production at some Pacific Northwest oyster hatcheries began declining at an alarming rate, posing a severe economic impact and challenging a way of life held by shellfish growers for more than 130 years (Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification, 2012). Oyster production represents about $84 million of the West Coast shellfish industry and supports more than 3,000 jobs. A $500,000 congressional investment in monitoring the pH of coastal seawater, which enables hatchery managers to schedule production when water quality is good, is helping to restore commercial hatcheries.3 However, much more work, including continued monitoring, is needed to help safeguard the ongoing contribution of this important 3 See http://www.noaa.gov/features/01_economic/pacificoysters.html (accessed September 9, 2013).
STRESSORS 29 industry to coastal communities in Oregon and Washington. This example highlights the urgency of this problem and the value of ocean acidification research and monitoring (Barton et al., 2012). Sandifer highlighted that, in addition to negative effects on shellfish production, the health of coral reefs, and potentially food and economic security, the stress of dealing with ocean acidification means that coastal ecosystems may become less resilient to other stressors, including extreme weather, nutrient pollution, or overfishing, becoming less able to recover from these types of challenges. Habitat Destruction and Biodiversity Loss The fourth example Sandifer discussed was habitat destruction and biodiversity loss. Coastal habitats are some of the most threatened in the world. Most of this loss is due to sea-level rise or coastal development, Sandifer said. As these systems are lost, biodiversity and many ecosystem services are lost. For example, oyster reefs provide many services, including seafood, filtration services, and water quality benefits, as well as shoreline protection and stabilization. Similarly, coral reefs provide many ecosystem services, including food, medicines and other products, nursery habitat for other species, and recreational opportunities. Healthy dunes and beaches confer storm protection for shorelines and human habitations, among other services. Degradation and loss of natural coastal habitats and biodiversity results in diminished storm surge protection, seafood supply, nutrient processing, and recreational and aesthetic values and generally decreases the resilience of coastal ecosystems to other stressors. The cumulative effect is greater risk of property damage and loss of life during storms, less seafood, fewer jobs and reduced food security, more risks of water- related illness, and impacts to mental health, Sandifer said. Extreme Weather Events Sandifer noted that degraded coastal habitats often exacerbate impacts of extreme weather, and extreme events often degrade or destroy coastal habitats and the ecosystem services they produce. Such effects were seen with Hurricane Katrina, in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and with posttropical storm Sandy, Sandifer said. He reminded the audience that in 2011 the United States experienced 14 weather and climate disasters, each of which exceeded $1 billion in
30 ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND HUMAN HEALTH losses (Smith and Katz, 2013). These ranged from winter blizzards that affected two-thirds of the United States (from Texas and Oklahoma to New England) early in the year, to a record number of tornadoes in the spring in the Midwest and Southeast (including the deadliest one to date, which killed 160 people), spring flooding in the Mississippi, record wildfires in the West, and Hurricane Irene late in the summer, which produced flooding. The flooding in the Mississippi produced near-record hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico as well (NOAA, 2011). In addition to the lives that are lost due to storms and other extreme weather events, these events also often have a number of impacts on ecosystems and on their ability to provide ecosystem services. For example, storms may damage coastal habitats, causing a loss of coastal habitats and loss of future storm surge protection. Storms also frequently overwhelm sewer systems (particularly combined sewer systems with sewage and stormwater in the same system), resulting in contamination of drinking water and affecting recreational water use (Patz et al., 2010; Portier et al., 2010). Storms also damage human infrastructure, leading to leaks of pollutants which contaminate ecosystems. For example, there was concern over the potential for seafood contaminated by radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power plant that was damaged by the major March 2011 earthquake and tsunami (Reardon, 2011). Contamination of coastal ecosystems with pollutants can decrease water quality, affect seafood safety (radiation, oil, sewage), and contribute to losses of wildlife, and recreational opportunities. Sandifer also noted that, in addition to the direct impacts of weather events on human health, the aftermath of such occurrences may include delayed effects on human and environmental health. For example, infections, illnesses, and mental health issues may arise following weather events, and dealing with these may be complicated by an inability to get medications or medical care due to storm damage to medical or transportation infrastructure. Sandifer noted that the five environmental stressors he discussed are interrelated and all have effects on the provision of ecosystem services, which in turn can have a broad range of effects on human health (see Figure 3-2). He suggested several steps that could be taken to address the stressors and sustain marine and coastal ecosystem services. These include the following:
STRESSORS 31 â¢ explicitly account for ec a cosystem servvices in polici and decision ies making; â¢ protect and restore coa d astal âgreen infrastructur (i.e., inta reâ act coastal habbitat) to provide natural st torm surge p protection, food security, an climate ada nd aptation bene efits; â¢ conduct re esearch to un nderstand the effects of environment e tal stressors on species, hab n bitats and syst tems, and hummans so we c can determine how best to mitigate and ad h m dapt; and â¢ implement better monito oring and hea warning s alth systems. In co oncluding his presentatio on, Sandifer said that the compl r lex interac ctions among multiple str g ressors, ecosyystem services, and humman health highlight th need to more fully u he m understand th connectio he ons among these factor and their ultimate huma health imp g rs u an pact so that t the impact can be min ts nimized. He provided an e xample of the time scales at p e which climate and weather effec are consid cts dered. The Naational Oceannic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) d A A develops longg-term outloooks for cli imate and weeather and th refines th hen hese to finer and finer tim me scales, down to day hours, and minutes of a ctual forecast of impending , ys, ts events so that pre s, eventive or protective acti p ions can be taken with t the greates lead time possible (see Figure 3-3). st p F FIGUR 3-2 Intera RE actions among five environ g nmental stress sors, delivery of ecosyst services, and impacts on human health. tem a . SOURC Sandifer, 2012. CE: 2
32 ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND HUMAN HEAL M D LTH FIGUR 3-3 Time scales and types of climate an weather fore RE s nd ecasts. SOURC Sandifer, 2012. CE: 2 NO OAA is now extending th type of a w his approach in a agency-wi an ide effort to improve ec t ecasts. Initiall the agency is focusing on cological fore ly, y harmfu algal bloo ul oms, hypoxia and pathog a, gens (particu ularly natural lly occurrring Vibrio baacteria) in coastal and ma arine environm ments. Sandif fer noted that capability and resources (includ ding those fo disease an for nd health surveillance and epidem miological stuudiesâto mo onitor, integra ate data, model, and forecast imp pacts to coa astal and ocean ecosyste em service and the re es esulting huma health thre an eats) are need in order to ded provid timely wa de arnings that would enab better preparation an ble nd mitigation, impleme entation of co ontrol and pre egies, reduction evention strate of imppacts, and sho ortened recove times. ery FR RAMEWOR FOR ASS RK SESSING MAARINE ECO OSYSTEM SE ERVICES AN HUMAN HEALTH ND N Jonatha Garber, Ph an h.D. Accting Associate Director fo Ecology, or Na ational Health and Environ h nmental Effec Research L cts Laboratory, U.S. Environme U. ental Protecti Agency ion Jonathan Garbe began his presentation b explaining that enhancin er p by g ng and pr rotecting ecos systems and human health are explicitl central to t h h ly the
STRESSORS 33 mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory. The EPAâs efforts in the ecosystemâhealth connection area of research are a continuing and increasing focus of the agency, he said. The work is supported by both the regulatory and science arms of the agency and is underpinned by a number of statutory authorities such as the Clean Water Act, the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act, the Ocean Dumping Ban Act, the Shore Protection Act, and others. Decision Framework Garber described a process used by the EPA to assess the linkage between ecosystems and human health. The process is based upon a framework that was developed to assist in optimizing management decisions that affect the production of coastal and marine and ocean ecosystem services. The framework explicitly includes linkage to human well-being. As can be seen in Figure 3-4, the framework begins on the left side with potential stressors on marine systems such as temperature rise, eutrophication, and habitat loss. The next step is to consider the potential management decisions and points of intervention in the delivery of ecosystem services and how they affect the production of these services. At the far right of the schematic is the linkage to the desired outcome of human well-being. Also of note is the understanding that there are important feedbacks loops. This framework allows a decision maker to optimize decisions about potential interventions in order to maximize the production of services that will have a positive impact on human well- being. In support of this framework, Garber discussed a critical path for making the connection between ecosystem services and human health outcomes. The first step in the path is to establish inventories of baseline ecosystem services and health conditions. The second step is to translate conditions into quantifiable services. The third step is to link these services to human health outcomes, and the fourth step is to model and predict the impacts of interventions and feedbacks to complete the cycle. As an example, Garber described the use of this path in assessing coastal conditions and human health. The results of the first step to establish inventories of baseline ecosystem services and health conditions are captured in the National Coastal Assessment series of reports.
34 ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND HUMAN HEAL M D LTH FIGUR 3-4 Modif RE fied DPSR (d drivers, pressur res, states, res sponse) decisi ion framewwork for optimmizing manag gement decisio ons that affec production of ct coastal marine and oc cean ecosystem services. m NOTE: HABs = harm algal bloom mful ms. SOURC Garber, 20 CE: 012. Nat tional Coasta Condition Assessment al Th National Coastal Asse he C essment began in 2000 as an integrat n s ted compr rehensive coa astal monitor ring program to assess th condition of he estuari at multipl scales (stat regional, and national) The progra ies le te, ). am included all U.S. coastal states. Another im c . mportant aim w to transf was fer this tecchnology to the states, trib EPA Reg t bes, gions, EPA O Office of Wate er, and oth hers, and to enhance the EPAâs ability to make scien e E ntifically sound assessmments of the condition of U.S. coastal waters. This effort ended in 2006 and was repl a laced by the National Coa astal Conditi Assessme ion ent (NCCA Four NCC reports ha been publ A). CA ave lished. Acccording to Garber, the assessments ha evolved o G ave over the past 20 years and now inclu all the cot a ude terminous U.S coastal wat S. ters, particular rly estuari and are now reaching out to the co ies, n ontinental she and some of elf the terrritories and states that are not cotermi s e inous. Data ccontained in t the last rep port, NCCR IV, includes coastal monito I c oring data, of ffshore fisheriies
STRESSORS 35 data, coastal ocean data, and assessment and advisory data related to fish consumption advisories and beach closures. Data included in the report are indicator based; an illustrative set of indicators is shown in Box 3-1. Synthesis of this information allows for a national assessment to be made of the condition of U.S. coastal waters. The NCCR IV assessment results rated U.S. coastal waters as âfairâ based on a five-point system, where a score of less than 2.0 is rated poor, and greater than 4.0 is rated good. The water quality, sediment quality, benthic condition, and coastal habitat indices also rated fair. The fish tissue contaminants index rated âgood to fairâ (>3.7â4.0). Regional chapters of the NCCR IV provide information on indicators for regional coastal areas. EnviroAtlas and Eco-Health Browser Garber discussed another EPA tool, the EnviroAtlas,4 which is useful in the second step of the framework, translating conditions to quantifiable BOX 3-1 Indicators of Coastal Condition in NCCR IV Report Water Quality Index: â¢ Water clarity â¢ Dissolved oxygen (DO) â¢ Dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) â¢ Dissolved inorganic phosphorus (DIP) â¢ Chlorophyll a Benthic Indexa: â¢ Community diversity â¢ Pollution-tolerant/sensitive species Sediment Quality Index: â¢ Toxicity â¢ Contaminants â¢ Total organic carbon (TOC) Fish Tissue Contaminant Index: â¢ Whole-fish contaminant burden Coastal Habitat Index: â¢ Fish and Wildlife Service National Wetlands Inventory Wetlands Loss Rates ________________________________________________ a Benthic index measures the condition of the benthic organisms living in or on the bottom of water bodies. SOURCE: EPA, 2011. 4 EnviroAtlas is available at: http://www.epa.gov/research/enviroatlas/index.htm (accessed September 9, 2013).
36 ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND HUMAN HEALTH services. The Web-based tool allows research and analysis to be conducted on the relationships between ecosystem services and human well-being. The tool provides easy-to-use geospatial data and maps that allow users to analyze multiple ecosystem services and health conditions in a specific region. These ecosystem benefits include clean air, clean and plentiful water, natural hazard mitigation, biodiversity conservation, food, fuel, materials, recreational opportunities, and cultural and aesthetic value. EnviroAtlas contains information on the status of these benefits, the ecosystems that provide and protect them, and related health and economic impacts. Another tool, the eco-health browser,5 is particularly useful in conducting step three: linking services to human health outcomes. The interactive tool provides information on major ecosystems (e.g., wetlands and forests), the services they provide, and how those services or their degradation and loss may affect human health (see Figure 3-5). Garber ended his presentation by sharing his view that much progress has been made in establishing the baseline of ecological and human health conditions, in translating conditions to quantifiable services, and in linking services to human health outcomes. However, much more work is needed in step four of the framework: modeling and predicting the impacts of interventions and feedbacks. Progress in this area would allow for completing the cycle of optimizing management decisions that affect the production of coastal marine and ocean ecosystem services. A U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY PERSPECTIVE ON STRESSORS IMPACTING COASTAL AND OCEAN SYSTEMS Ione Taylor, Ph.D. Associate Director, Energy and Minerals, and Environmental Health, U.S. Geological Survey Ione Taylor began her presentation by describing the mission of the USGS and how the agencyâs work addresses ecosystem services and its impact on health. The USGS is a science agency within the U.S. Depart- ment of the Interior. The USGS was founded in the late 1800s to classify 5 The eco-health browser is available at: http://www.epa.gov/research/health science/browser/index.html (accessed September 9, 2013).
STRESSORS 37 FIGUR 3-5 Eco-He RE ealth Relations ship Browser. NOTE: The Eco-Healt Relationship Browser is bes viewed in inte th st eractive format at: http://w www.epa.gov/re esearch/healths science/browser (accessed Sep r ptember 9, 2013). SOURC EPA, 2013 CE: 3. the public lands and examine the geological s d e structure, min neral resourcees, and pr roducts of th national do he omain. The mmission of th agency is to he provid reliable sc de cientific inforrmation to d describe and understand t the Earth; minimize th loss of life and proper due to na he fe rty atural disasterrs; manag water, biological, energ and mine ge gy, eral resources and enhan s; nce and pr rotect quality of life. Tay y ylor noted th 2 years ago the USG hat GS underw a reorga went anization to move from a lo history of functioning as m ong a disciipline-based organization with an acad o demic structu to an issu ure ue- based structure of Mission Are eas. Ecosystem services is now a cros m s ss- cutting issue acros all Missio Areas. On area of U g ss on ne USGS focus on ecosysstem services is on valuat s tion and how USGS biop w physical scien nce can coontribute to understanding value, partic u g cularly in the discussion of e trade-o for natura resource management an land mana offs al m nd agement.
38 ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND HUMAN HEAL M D LTH Ecosystem Responsibilities of the Depa s artment of th Interior he As background Taylor des s d, scribed ecosy ystem respons sibilities of t the Depart tment of the Interior. The Department is responsible for managing 35,000 miles of coa 0 illion acres of the seabed a continent astline, 80 bi f and tal shelf and subsurfac minerals, 177 island coa a ce 1 astal refuges, and a fish an , nd wildlif refuge syst fe tem. The Dep partment is als responsible for 74 mari so ine or isla national parks and 92 million acre of coral re ecosystem and p 2 es eef ms. The Department thu has an impo us ortant role in coastal and m marine oversig ght for the nation. e Th Role of Sci he ience in USG Resource Managemen Decisions GS nt Taaylor also not that the USGS is not a regulatory ag ted U gency. It brin ngs unbiassed science research to the Depart rtmentâs land manageme d ent respon nsibilities. She pointed out that the usefu e ence to decision fulness of scie makers for making high-level land managem g l ment decision is related to ns the deegree of synt thesis and in nterpretation of the scien nce. Figure 3 3-6 shows how scienc informs re ce esource man nagement dec cisions. As t the figure shows, there is greater va e alue to the de ecision maker as biophysic r cal data ar transforme to informat re ed tion that can be used to mmake predictio ons and prresent potentia options wit al thin an ecosysstems service framework. es FIGUR 3-6 How sc RE cience informs resource mana agement decisi ions. SOURC Taylor, 20 CE: 012.
STRESSORS 39 To support this effort, the US o SGS is expand ding its basic ccore capabiliti ies in scie ence to develo a capacity to better inte op egrate inform mation to infor rm complex trade-offs and decisio s ons, Taylor s said. Figure 3-7 shows t the USGSâs approach to move from the trad ditional core capabilities to emerging capabiliti The Ener and Mine Resources Mission Ar ies. rgy eral rea is a tra aditional USG core capa GS ability and is shown on the left. The co e ore capabi ility of energy and minera appraisal is assessed for the nation an y al s r nd globally because th future sup he pply of mine erals, and to a great exte ent energy is in the global impor arena. The USGS has long-standing y, rt e s capabi ility in econoomic modelin and the ab ng ability to connduct appraisa als and va aluation for these commodities. Over the past 10 t 15 years t t to the USGS has begun to bring environmental imp o pacts, particu ularly of ener rgy and minerals and water resou m urces, to bear for a broa r ader picture of enviroon-mental im mpact for re esource appr raisal, potenntial extraction scenar rios, and trans sport and use. Most recent an emergi capability is tly ing y the de evelopment of biophysic models i an ecosy o cal in ystems servic ces framew work. Ultima ately the goal is to move to oward buildin the capability ng to gennerate scenario for vulnera os ability and ris optimizati in compl sk ion lex natural resource an land mana nd agement deci isions. This requires taking core capabilities in the biophys c n sical sciences, building in what is know , wn about economic appraisals and services in th energy an mineral are he nd ea, and br ringing a simmilar perspecti into a co ive onsideration o the value of of biolog componen and hydro gic nts ologic compo nents, which typically ha h ave not ha a commodity or price Expanding the core capabilities w ad e. g will require more synth e hesis and mor partnership efforts with other agenci re p h ies such as the EPA and NOAA. d FIGUR 3-7 A deve RE eloping USGS approach: integ a grating tradition and emergi nal ing capabil lities. SOURC Taylor, 20 CE: 012.
40 ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND HUMAN HEALTH The Role of the USGS in Addressing Sea-Level Rise, Methylmercury, and Natural Hazards Taylor provided a brief overview of three stressors that impact coastal and ocean ecosystem services: (1) sea-level rise related to climate and coastal erosion; (2) environmental health related to water quality, disease, mercury contamination, and ocean acidification; and (3) natural hazards such as earthquake, tsunami, and landslide hazard stressors. In the area of sea-level rise the USGS is taking current knowledge based on the geologic and geoscience perspective and the hydrologic perspective to develop high-level national and sometimes international assessments. It is also conducting research on sea-level rise, coastal erosion, fragile shorelines in coastal areas, and wetland vulnerabilities. The USGS is bringing the science to bear to understanding the interplay of sea-level rise, coastal erosion, and a host of other drivers that impact coastal vulnerability and is developing different scenarios of sea-level change to assess impact. Communicating these assessments to the public is a challenge. Taylor turned to the issue of environmental health and described the USGSâs work on methylmercury. The first national map of methylmercury based on a model of surface waters was recently completed by the USGS. In the United States the primary source of mercury over the land mass comes from deposition of ash from coal-fired power plants. Mercury becomes a problem for human environmental health because it becomes toxic through methylation of the mercury, which is a biomediated process. That is, it is the combination of the microbes in the water and mercury that results in toxicity. The USGS is looking at the problem of methylmercury from a regional perspective. One region that has received attention is an area from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Kodiak, Alaska, in the Pacific Ocean. Results of work on this topic in the Pacific indicate concerns for a large plume of methylmercury in the oceans. That plume is associated with atmospheric deposition from coal-fired power plants in Asia which is being deposited into the water due to interactions at the landâsea interface. Taylor emphasized that an important finding from this and other work is that assessments must include consideration of the system as a whole and this requires an interdisciplinary approach to science. This approach is difficult because it requires translating across science cultures, science practice, language, data, and how data are collected.
STRESSORS 41 Taylor described the unique role of the USGS with respect to natural hazards. The USGS has delegated responsibility for the federal government to provide notifications and warnings for earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides. The agency also works to support NOAAâs flood and severe weather (including hurricane) warnings, as well as seismic networks to support tsunami warnings. The agencyâs work around natural hazards such as earthquake and tsunami warnings and landslides is also important with respect to work and concerns related to sea-level rise. Taylor concluded her presentation by presenting six questions and ongoing challenges around the topic of stressors and ecosystem services for coastal and marine ecosystems: 1. How can ecosystem services and their values be routinely incorporated into sustainable marine resource management decisions so that the impacts of decisions across natural, managed, and human systems are understood? 2. What scientific information and what level of certainty are needed to provide a foundation for coastal and marine resource management decisions? 3. How can the value of scientific information be more effectively determined and used to prioritize the science needed to better understand coastal and marine ecosystem services? 4. What metrics should be developed so that we understand the ability of marine systems to recover from expected and unexpected stressors? 5. How can the natural and social sciences collaborate to develop integrated understanding of the consequences expected to result from stressors and management decisions? 6. How can marine ecosystem services be incorporated into adaptive decision making that facilitates the synthesis of learning and management? DISCUSSION A brief discussion followed the panelistsâ presentations. Lynn Goldman stated that there has been much scientific discussion about climate change and the impact of temperature rise, and the role of human activities on greenhouse gases, but yet as a nation we are not managing ecosystems in a holistic fashion, or including humans as a part of that
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