Research Topic

Bridging the Gap Between Policy and Science in Assessing the Health Status of Marine Ecosystems

About this Research Topic

Traditional and emerging human activities and their resulting pressures are increasingly affecting marine ecosystems and impacting their ability to sustain natural resources, functions and processes and which provide ecosystem services that deliver societal and economic benefits. A science-based, integrated ...

Traditional and emerging human activities and their resulting pressures are increasingly affecting marine ecosystems and impacting their ability to sustain natural resources, functions and processes and which provide ecosystem services that deliver societal and economic benefits. A science-based, integrated Ecosystem Approach is needed to assess the status of marine ecosystems, incorporating a knowledge of ecosystem processes, functioning and services that can be used to determine how human activities change marine ecosystems and their ability to support human society. This important task requires suitable indicators for different ecosystem components and innovative modelling tools to extrapolate the increasingly sparse sampling data to cover broad areas of the oceans. In addition, although very many methods have been developed to assess the status of single components of the marine ecosystem, few exist for assessing multiple ecosystem components in a holistic way. Similarly, while there are many assessments of single activities and impacts, there is a dearth assessing cumulative impacts in addition to the challenge of determining such short term change against a background of climate change over greater spatial and temporal scales. Such an integrative assessment therefore requires us to understand the response of marine systems to human activities and their pressures superimposed on to the effects of climate change. Hence, innovative, cost-effective and cost-efficient monitoring tools are needed to obtain data for estimating the status of large marine areas.

The primary focus of this Research Topic is the science required for implementing the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), and its aim of achieving good environmental status in all European seas by 2020. Manuscripts addressing the requirements of the MSFD, in terms of developing indicators, modeling and methods to assess environmental status in the European regional seas are especially welcome, although manuscripts dealing with similar approaches in other seas are also very welcome, since they allow comparing and discussing the progress in this field in recent years from a broader perspective.

Manuscripts that address one or more of the following themes are invited:
• indicators and frameworks to demonstrate the marine status over large and small spatial and temporal scales;
• innovative methods for monitoring large marine areas, timescales or ecosystem components;
• human pressures and impacts on marine waters and the conceptual basis underpinning this;
• the assessment of marine status and integration at different scales (spatial and temporal), different ecosystem components, and multiple indicators;
• the economics and cost-effectiveness of monitoring and management measures, including ecosystem services and societal benefits;
• science for policy and implementing governance, with clear applications to assist managers in the process of decision making to improve marine health;
• the effective interaction and cooperation with stakeholders and innovative methods of communication between the different stakeholders.

This Research Topic will serve to determine the lessons learnt and future directions in marine management and assessment.


Keywords: marine ecosystems, marine ecology, marine policy, marine management, ecosystem approach, ecosystem monitoring, ecosystem status, MSFD, European seas


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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