A bottom up approach to marine management: Marine phytoplankton as regulators of ecosystem functions and services
Phytoplankton provide important climate cycle and ecosystem functions, and must be incorporated within marine management considerations. Phytoplankton are currently considered within environmental standards, but often negatively - as indicators of unwanted environmental change, such as eutrophication or harmful algal blooms, with limited effort to consider or support areas of naturally higher productivity. In order for this to change, primary production must be fully recognized by policy makers as a vital ecosystem process, and phytoplankton as supporting other ecosystem services we value. The patchy nature of phytoplankton must also be recognized, as spatial and temporal patchiness in the production of phytoplankton can be related to patchiness in the provision of these ecosystem services.
How can we as researchers support such changes to policy and management processes? Spatial and temporal phytoplankton variability off the east coast of Scotland, with its impacts on monitoring for MSFD and in marine spatial planning and sectoral licensing will be explored as examples. Mapping patches and modelling effects of wind farms provides evidence of the impacts of human developments, and comparing remotely sensed to long term monitoring site data offers implications to methods of monitoring pelagic habitat status.
Finally, I want to share with you information about my new NERC knowledge exchange fellowship, with the Marine Management Organisation (and similar organisations in devolved areas). I am working to feed NERC marine science into the MMO, to fill evidence gaps and support marine policy and management, and to support and facilitate researcher-MMO engagement. I hope we can have a good discussion around this as part of the seminar, so please come along to find out more, and to share your thoughts on what you find out!