Defining and detecting undesirable disturbance in the context of eutrophication.

Tett, Paul, Gowen, Richard J, Mills, Dave, Fernandes, Teresa, Gilpin, Linda, Huxham, Mark, Kennington, Kevin, Read, P A, Service, Matthew, Wilkinson, Martin and Malcolm, Stephen J (2007) Defining and detecting undesirable disturbance in the context of eutrophication. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 55 (1-6). pp. 282-297. ISSN 0025 326X

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An understanding of undesirable disturbance to the balance of organisms is needed to diagnose marine eutrophication as defined by EU Directives and OSPAR. This review summarizes the findings of the UK Defra-funded Undesirable Disturbance Study Team, which concluded that ‘an undesirable disturbance is a perturbation of a marine ecosystem that appreciably degrades the health or threatens the sustainable human use of that ecosystem’. A methodology is proposed for detecting disturbance of temperate salt-water communities dominated by phytoplanktonic or phytobenthic primary producers. It relies on monitoring indicators of ecosystem structure and vigour, which are components of health. Undesirable disturbance can be diagnosed by accumulating evidence of ecohydrodynamic type-specific changes in: (i) bulk indicators; (ii) frequency statistics; (iii) flux measurements; (iv) structural indicators; and (v) indicator species. These are exemplified by (i) chlorophyll, transparency, dissolved oxygen, and opportunistic seaweed cover; (ii) HABs frequency; (iii) primary production; (iv) benthic and planktonic ‘trophic indices’; (v) seagrasses and Nephrops norvegicus. Ecological Quality Objectives are proposed for some of these. Linking the diagnosis to eutrophication requires correlation of changes with nutrient enrichment. The methodology, which requires the development of a plankton community index and emphasizes the importance of primary production as an indicator of vigour, can be harmonized with the EU Water Framework Directive and OSPAR’s Strategy to Combat Eutrophication.

Item Type: Article
Print ISSN: 0025 326X
Additional Information: The work described here was funded by a Defra contract to Napier University for a study of ‘Undesirable Disturbance in the Context of Eutrophication’ and by Defra contract ME2202 to CEFAS. The PEML sampling programme that provided the data for Fig. 3 was supported by the Isle of Man Government’s Department of Local Government and the Environment, Isle of Man. The authors would like to thank Ms. Theresa Shammon for making the data available.
Uncontrolled Keywords: undesirable disturbance; marine eutrophication; ecosystem; temperate salt-water; phytoplanktonic; phytobenthic; Ecological Quality Objectives;
University Divisions/Research Centres: Faculty of Health, Life & Social Sciences > School of Life Sciences
Dewey Decimal Subjects: 500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology > 570 Life sciences; biology
Library of Congress Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GC Oceanography
Item ID: 1691
Depositing User: RAE Import
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2008 11:25
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2013 14:46

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