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Jueterbock A.,University of Nordland | Tyberghein L.,Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ | Tyberghein L.,Ghent University | Verbruggen H.,University of Melbourne | And 3 more authors.
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2013

The North-Atlantic has warmed faster than all other ocean basins and climate change scenarios predict sea surface temperature isotherms to shift up to 600 km northwards by the end of the 21st century. The pole-ward shift has already begun for many temperate seaweed species that are important intertidal foundation species. We asked the question: Where will climate change have the greatest impact on three foundational, macroalgal species that occur along North-Atlantic shores: Fucus serratus, Fucus vesiculosus, and Ascophyllum nodosum? To predict distributional changes of these key species under three IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) climate change scenarios (A2, A1B, and B1) over the coming two centuries, we generated Ecological Niche Models with the program MAXENT. Model predictions suggest that these three species will shift northwards as an assemblage or "unit" and that phytogeographic changes will be most pronounced in the southern Arctic and the southern temperate provinces. Our models predict that Arctic shores in Canada, Greenland, and Spitsbergen will become suitable for all three species by 2100. Shores south of 45° North will become unsuitable for at least two of the three focal species on both the Northwest- and Northeast-Atlantic coasts by 2200. If these foundational species are unable to adapt to the rising temperatures, they will lose their centers of genetic diversity and their loss will trigger an unpredictable shift in the North-Atlantic intertidal ecosystem. © 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Verbruggen H.,University of Melbourne | Tyberghein L.,Ghent University | Tyberghein L.,Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ | Belton G.S.,University of Adelaide | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The utility of species distribution models for applications in invasion and global change biology is critically dependent on their transferability between regions or points in time, respectively. We introduce two methods that aim to improve the transferability of presence-only models: density-based occurrence thinning and performance-based predictor selection. We evaluate the effect of these methods along with the impact of the choice of model complexity and geographic background on the transferability of a species distribution model between geographic regions. Our multifactorial experiment focuses on the notorious invasive seaweed Caulerpa cylindracea Caulerpa subspecies and uses Maxent, a commonly used presence-only modeling technique. We show that model transferability is markedly improved by appropriate predictor selection, with occurrence thinning, model complexity and background choice having relatively minor effects. The data shows that, if available, occurrence records from the native and invaded regions should be combined as this leads to models with high predictive power while reducing the sensitivity to choices made in the modeling process. The inferred distribution model of Caulerpa cylindracea shows the potential for this species to further spread along the coasts of Western Europe, western Africa and the south coast of Australia. © 2013 Verbruggen et al.


Thierens M.,University College Cork | Pirlet H.,Ghent University | Pirlet H.,Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ | Colin C.,University Paris - Sud | And 11 more authors.
Quaternary Science Reviews | Year: 2012

The Plio-Pleistocene intensification of Northern Hemisphere continental ice-sheet development is known to have profoundly affected the global climate system. Evidence for early continental glaciation is preserved in sediments throughout the North Atlantic Ocean, where ice-rafted detritus (IRD) layers attest to the calving of sediment-loaded icebergs from circum-Atlantic ice sheets. So far, Early-Pleistocene IRD deposition has been attributed to the presence of high-latitudinal ice sheets, whereas the existence and extent of ice accumulation in more temperate, mid-latitudinal regions remains enigmatic.Here we present results from the multiproxy provenance analysis of a unique, Pleistocene-Holocene IRD sequence from the Irish NE Atlantic continental margin. There, the Challenger coral carbonate mound (IODP Expedition 307 site U1317) preserved an Early-Pleistocene record of 16 distinctive IRD events, deposited between ca 2.6 and 1.7 Ma. Strong and complex IRD signals are also identified during the mid-Pleistocene climate transition (ca 1.2 to 0.65 Ma) and throughout the Middle-Late Pleistocene interval. Radiogenic isotope source-fingerprinting, in combination with coarse lithic component analysis, indicates a dominant sediment source in the nearby British-Irish Isles, even for the oldest, Early-Pleistocene IRD deposits. Hence, our findings demonstrate, for the first time, repeated and substantial (i.e. marine-terminating) ice accumulation on the British-Irish Isles since the beginning of the Pleistocene. Contemporaneous expansion of both high- and mid-latitudinal ice sheets in the North Atlantic region is therefore implied at the onset of the Pleistocene. Moreover, it suggests the recurrent establishment of (climatically) favourable conditions for ice sheet inception, growth and instability in mid-latitudinal regions, even in the earliest stages of Northern Hemisphere glacial expansion and in an obliquity-driven climate system. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


van Soest R.W.M.,Netherlands Center for Biodiversity Naturalis | Boury-Esnault N.,Aix - Marseille University | Vacelet J.,Aix - Marseille University | Dohrmann M.,Smithsonian Institution | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

With the completion of a single unified classification, the Systema Porifera (SP) and subsequent development of an online species database, the World Porifera Database (WPD), we are now equipped to provide a first comprehensive picture of the global biodiversity of the Porifera. An introductory overview of the four classes of the Porifera is followed by a description of the structure of our main source of data for this paper, the WPD. From this we extracted numbers of all 'known' sponges to date: the number of valid Recent sponges is established at 8,553, with the vast majority, 83%, belonging to the class Demospongiae. We also mapped for the first time the species richness of a comprehensive set of marine ecoregions of the world, data also extracted from the WPD. Perhaps not surprisingly, these distributions appear to show a strong bias towards collection and taxonomy efforts. Only when species richness is accumulated into large marine realms does a pattern emerge that is also recognized in many other marine animal groups: high numbers in tropical regions, lesser numbers in the colder parts of the world oceans. Preliminary similarity analysis of a matrix of species and marine ecoregions extracted from the WPD failed to yield a consistent hierarchical pattern of ecoregions into marine provinces. Global sponge diversity information is mostly generated in regional projects and resources: results obtained demonstrate that regional approaches to analytical biogeography are at present more likely to achieve insights into the biogeographic history of sponges than a global perspective, which appears currently too ambitious. We also review information on invasive sponges that might well have some influence on distribution patterns of the future. © 2012 Van Soest et al.


Lescrauwaet A.-K.,Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ | Debergh H.,Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ | Vincx M.,Ghent University | Mees J.,Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ
Marine Policy | Year: 2010

In Belgium, centralized reporting on landings of sea fisheries at the species level started in 1929. This paper summarizes the process and the results of integrating time-series, based on fragmented and disperse data sources for the period 1929-1999. The resulting database contains data by species (41), by port of landing in Belgium (4) and in 'foreign ports,' and by fishing area of origin (31). After quality control, total reported landings over the period 1929-2008 amounted to 3,320,518. tonnes, of which 90% was landed in the Belgian ports. After a maximum of 75,370. tonnes in 1947, annual landings declined steadily to only 26% of this peak by 2008. Currently, landings are below those achieved in 1929. The most important species in terms of landings (1929-1999) were cod (17% of all landings) and herring (16%). In terms of economic value, sole (31%) and cod (15%) were the most valuable. Close to 73% of all landings originated from 5 of the 31 fishing areas. Twenty percent of all landings (1929-1999) originated from the 'coastal waters', while these waters contributed nearly 60% of all landed pelagic species and 55% of all landed 'molluscs and crustaceans'. Compared to the currently available ICES data, this local database offers advantages in temporal coverage (data from 1929 onwards), temporal scale (monthly values), and at the taxonomic level. It also provides more detailed information at the spatial scale of the southern and central North Sea, and it is the only source of historical information on landings originating from the coastal waters. Given the importance of the shallow and productive 'Flemish banks' as a local source of food in historical and recent times, this data is valuable for further research on the productivity of the coastal ecosystem and the local impact of fisheries. The database broadens the historical view on fisheries, underlines the decline in landings since reporting started, and serves as a basis for further (fisheries) research and policy-making in Belgium. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Van Cauwenberghe L.,Ghent University | Vanreusel A.,Ghent University | Mees J.,Ghent University | Mees J.,Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ | Janssen C.R.,Ghent University
Environmental Pollution | Year: 2013

Microplastics are small plastic particles (<1 mm) originating from the degradation of larger plastic debris. These microplastics have been accumulating in the marine environment for decades and have been detected throughout the water column and in sublittoral and beach sediments worldwide. However, up to now, it has never been established whether microplastic presence in sediments is limited to accumulation hot spots such as the continental shelf, or whether they are also present in deep-sea sediments. Here we show, for the first time ever, that microplastics have indeed reached the most remote of marine environments: the deep sea. We found plastic particles sized in the micrometre range in deep-sea sediments collected at four locations representing different deep-sea habitats ranging in depth from 1100 to 5000 m. Our results demonstrate that microplastic pollution has spread throughout the world's seas and oceans, into the remote and largely unknown deep sea. © 2013.


Lescrauwaet A.-K.,Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ | Torreele E.,Belgium Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research | Vincx M.,Ghent University | Polet H.,Belgium Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research | And 2 more authors.
Fisheries Research | Year: 2013

Publicly reported statistics on the production of fisheries refer to 'landings' as opposed to 'catch'. However, well-informed decisions and evaluation of the impacts of fisheries on ecosystems must be based on total removals, so including the part of the catch that is discarded at sea or not reported as landings. Total removals by Belgian fisheries from all ICES fishing areas and from the Belgian part of the North Sea (BNS) from 1929 to 2010, were reconstructed by including unreported and misreported landings of the commercial fleet, unreported landings by the recreational and artisanal/subsistence fisheries and by estimating discards for the most important fisheries. Total reconstructed removals were estimated at 5.2. million. t or 42% higher than the 3.7. million. t publicly reported over this period. Unreported landings and discards were estimated to represent respectively 3.5% (0.2. million. t) and 26% (1.3. million. t) of these total reconstructed removals. The reconstructed total removals on the BNS were estimated to be 55% higher than the 0.8. million. t publicly reported over this period. Discards represent an average annual of 34% of the total removals on the BNS over the entire period. The results suggest that since the 2000s, approximately 50% of all Belgian removals from its EEZ are unreported landings and discards (IUU). The unreported landings and discards are increasingly taken by non-commercial, small-scale (<12. m) vessels that are not subject to reporting and not taken into consideration in planning, monitoring and enforcement. While the present paper provides a first attempt to reconstruct historical total removals for Belgium's sea fisheries, it also addresses the gaps in data and information that need to be resolved to improve the reliability of the estimates of unaccounted removals. The reconstructed time series provides a context for the wider debate about how to move to more sustainable fisheries, what the role of small-scale fisheries are, how to achieve the agreed policy targets in Belgian marine waters and in particular in the marine areas protected under the EU Habitat and Bird directives. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Wasmund N.,Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research | Tuimala J.,Finnish Red Cross Blood Service | Suikkanen S.,Finnish Environment Institute | Vandepitte L.,Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ | Kraberg A.,Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research
Journal of Marine Systems | Year: 2011

The phytoplankton biomass data of the period 1979-2005 of the Belt Sea area and the Baltic Proper, separated into spring, summer and autumn data, were checked for trends, together with the relevant abiotic factors (temperature, salinity, and nutrient concentrations). The Mann-Kendall test was used for detecting monotonic trends over the whole investigation period or, if trend breaks occurred, over the period before and after the trend breaks. The relationships between phytoplankton community composition and the environmental variables were assessed by a redundancy analysis (RDA), which could support some results of the trend analyses. Water temperature increased but salinity and inorganic nitrogen concentrations decreased in the southern Baltic Proper. Spring phytoplankton biomass and chlorophyll a concentrations increased in the Baltic Proper and decreased in Mecklenburg Bight. The biomass of Diatomophyceae decreased in spring at some stations but increased in autumn. If the Diatomophyceae spring blooms decreased, the total Dinophyceae biomass increased. Strong spring blooms of Diatomophyceae occurred in the 1980s and since 2000, but those of Dinophyceae in the 1990s. These two groups showed alternating oscillations. Trends in most phytoplankton components were different in the Baltic Proper and the Belt Sea area, confirming that Darss Sill is a biological border. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Van Cauwenberghe L.,Ghent University | Claessens M.,Ghent University | Claessens M.,DuPont Company | Vandegehuchte M.B.,Ghent University | And 3 more authors.
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2013

A comprehensive assessment of marine litter in three environmental compartments of Belgian coastal waters was performed. Abundance, weight and composition of marine debris, including microplastics, was assessed by performing beach, sea surface and seafloor monitoring campaigns during two consecutive years. Plastic items were the dominant type of macrodebris recorded: over 95% of debris present in the three sampled marine compartments were plastic. In general, concentrations of macrodebris were quite high. Especially the number of beached debris reached very high levels: on average 6429 ± 6767 items per 100. m were recorded. Microplastic concentrations were determined to assess overall abundance in the different marine compartments of the Belgian Continental Shelf. In terms of weight, macrodebris still dominates the pollution of beaches, but in the water column and in the seafloor microplastics appear to be of higher importance: here, microplastic weight is approximately 100 times and 400 times higher, respectively, than macrodebris weight. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Costello M.J.,University of Auckland | Appeltans W.,Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ | Appeltans W.,Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO | Bailly N.,Aquatic Informatics | And 10 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2014

Scientists should ensure that high quality research information is readily available on the Internet so society is not dependant on less authoritative sources. Many scientific projects and initiatives publish information on species and biodiversity on the World Wide Web without users needing to pay for it. However, these resources often stagnate when project funding expired. Based on a large pool of experiences worldwide, this article discusses what measures will help such data resources develop beyond the project lifetime. Biodiversity data, just as data in many other disciplines, are often not generated automatically by machines or sensors. Data on for example species are based on human observations and interpretation. This requires continuous data curation to keep these up to date. Creators of online biodiversity databases should consider whether they have the resources to make their database of such value that other scientists and/or institutions would continue to finance its existence. To that end, it may be prudent to engage such partners in the development of the resource from an early stage. Managers of existing biodiversity databases should reflect on the factors being important for sustainability. These include the extent, scope, quality and uniqueness of database content; track record of development; support from scientists; support from institutions, and clarity of Intellectual Property Rights. Science funders should give special attention to the development of scholarly databases with expert-validated content. The science community has to appreciate the efforts of scientists in contributing to open-access databases, including by citing these resources in the Reference lists of publications that use them. Science culture must thus adapt its practices to support online databases as scholarly publications. To sustain such databases, we recommend they should (a) become integrated into larger collaborative databases or information systems with a consequently larger user community and pool of funding opportunities, and (b) be owned and curated by a science organisation, society, or institution with a suitable mandate. Good governance and proactive communication with contributors is important to maintain the team enthusiasm that launched the resource. Experience shows that 'bigger is better' in terms of database size because the resource will have more content, more potential and known uses and users of its content, more contributors, be more prestigious to contribute to, and have more funding options. Furthermore, most successful biodiversity databases are managed by a partnership of individuals and organisations. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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