Project: An ecological history of Australia's temperate marine environments: accounting for the shifting baseline syndrome
CI(s)/Institution: Sean Connell, University of Adeliade, and Michael Graham, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, California. (funding in year 1: $30,000)
Theories of top-down control of temperate rocky coasts have been very successfully applied to the description and management of many of the world's coasts. There is, however, growing dissatisfaction with the uncritical application of this paradigm to reconstruct past histories, and forecast the future of marine resources. In Australia and New Zealand, there is tremendous concern over its application to coastal zoning (e.g. MPA management). Internationally, ecologists look to leadership from some of the best studied systems of the globe, yet substantial confusion emerges from deriving such expectations from some of the most intensely and well understood kelp forests (e.g. Southern California and recent high profile publications). The paradigm has created a difficulty for the context of current studies and their interpretation, but also their peer-review and publication. The workshop seeks to publish a refresh approach that equips the discipline a broader and more incisive understanding for future research and publication.
Outcomes (Year 1) Workshop
LOCAL OUTCOMES: Sean D. Connell has brought together all major stake holders of natural marine resources to collectively reconstruct the lost-baseline of South Australia's metropolitan coast. This includes government and non-government people. The major outcome centres on a first draft manuscript that is currently undergoing internal review (Recovering the lost baseline of a metropolitan kelp forest). This publication reconstructs past kelp forests of >30 years ago and identifies massive habitat loss. Sean Connell asked that the publication be funded via some of the major stakeholders (e.g. South Australian Research and Development Institute who has generously obliged). This progress relied on a workshop, independently circulated questionnaires, a review of archival logbook information, meetings with stakeholders, including representatives of recreational fisher-people.
IMMEDIATE OUTCOME: A publishable manuscript; a fundamental outcome will be the explicit recognition of the proportion and location of coasts requiring a shift in thinking and methodology (i.e. paradigm-shift). Highlight the most significant knowledge gaps limiting our understanding, and hindering the future sustainable management of these environments. Provide the discipline with an explicit framework that captures a broader model, and methodology that is more incisive for future research and publication.
LONGER-TERM OUTCOME: A further aim of this workshop will be to generate a big-picture research agenda for temperate marine environments to stimulate and provide direction for useful large-scale collaborative research programs. Ultimately, the aim is to provide a new generation of marine scientists and managers with fresh perspective and direction.
International participants (#ECR):