Animal Forests Through Time: Historical Data to Understand Present Changes in Marine Ecosystems

  • Ruth H. Thurstan
  • John M. Pandolfi
  • Philine S. E. zu Ermgassen
Living reference work entry

Abstract

Animal forests form the foundation of many important marine benthic habitats. However, a near ubiquitous lack of long-term scientific data raises significant challenges in assessing how these communities have changed over time in response to human impacts and how they might respond to future perturbations. To address these questions, alternative sources of data have to be gathered. Marine historical ecology is a rapidly growing field of research that uses historical sources to challenge our assumptions about what is natural in our marine environments. This discipline thus has the potential to fill some of the gaps in our understanding of animal forests through time. This chapter reviews how historical ecology research helps us to better understand the changes that have occurred in marine animal forests, focusing in particular upon oyster and shallow-water coral communities. The variety of data sources available and the methodologies that have been used to uncover past changes in these and related ecosystems are highlighted. The use of historical data to inform restoration efforts and emerging concepts in marine ecology, such as ecosystem service provision, is examined. Finally, the limitations of historical data and remaining knowledge gaps with regard to past animal forest communities are discussed.

Keywords

Benthic communities Demersal trawling Exploitation Historical ecology Marine fisheries 

References

  1. Alleway HK, Connell SD. Loss of an ecological baseline through the eradication of oyster reefs from coastal ecosystems and human memory. Conserv Biol. 2015;29:795–804.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Barnosky AD, Matzke N, Tomiya S, Wogan GOU, Swartz B, Quental TB, Marshall C, McGuire JL, Lindsey EL, Maguire KC, Mersey B, Ferrer EA. Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived? Nature. 2011;471:51–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck MW, Brumbaugh RD, Airoldi L, Carranza A, Coen LD, Crawford C, Defeo O, Edgar GJ, Hancock B, Kay M, Lenihan H, Luckenbach MW, Toropova CL, Zhang G. Oyster reefs at risk and recommendations for conservation, restoration and management. Bioscience. 2011;61:107–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bradshaw C, Veale LO, Brand AR. The role of scallop dredge disturbance in long-term changes in Irish Sea benthic communities: a re-analysis of an historical dataset. J Sea Res. 2002;47:161–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bradstock M, Gordon DP. Coral-like bryozoan growths in Tasman Bay, and their protection to conserve commercial fish stocks. N Z J Mar Freshw Res. 1983;17:159–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chesapeake Research Consortium. Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration consensus of a meeting of scientific experts Virginia Institute of Marine Science, vol. 7. Virginia: Wachapreague; 1999. [cited 2015 Aug 15]. http://web.vims.edu/vimsnews/CBOysRestor.pdfc.
  7. Cramer KL, Jackson JBC, Angioletti CV, Leonard-Pingel J, Guilderson TP. Anthropogenic mortality on coral reefs in Caribbean Panama predates coral disease and bleaching. Ecol Lett. 2012;15:561–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Dame RF. Ecology of marine bivalves: an ecosystem approach. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 2011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Edgar GJ, Samson CR. Catastrophic decline in mollusc diversity in eastern Tasmania and its concurrence with shellfish fisheries. Conserv Biol. 2004;18:1579–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Engelhard GH. One hundred and twenty years of change in fishing power of English North Sea trawlers. In: Payne A, Cotter J, Potter T, editors. Advances in fisheries science: 50 years on from Beverton and Holt. Oxford: Blackwell; 2008.Google Scholar
  11. Greenstein BJ, Pandolfi JM. Escaping the heat: range shifts of reef coral taxa in coastal Western Australia. Glob Chang Biol. 2008;14:513–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Heck Jr KL, Hays G, Orth RJ. Critical evaluation of the nursery role hypothesis for seagrass meadows. Mar Ecol Prog Ser. 2003;253:123–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hughes TP, Linares C, Dakos V, van de Leemput IA, van Nes EH. Living dangerously on borrowed time during slow, unrecognized regime shifts. Trends Ecol Evol. 2013;28:149–55.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Hutchings P. Review of the effects of trawling on macrobenthic epifaunal communities. Aust J Mar Freshwat Res. 1990;41:111–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jackson JBC, Sala E. Unnatural oceans. Sci Mar. 2001;65:273–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jackson JBC, Kirby MX, Berger WH, Bjorndal KA, Botsford LW, Bourque BJ, Bradbury RH, Cooke R, Erlandson J, Estes JA, Hughes TP, Kidwell S, Lange CB, Lenihan HS, Pandolfi JM, Peterson CH, Steneck RS, Tegner MJ, Warner RR. Historical overfishing and the recent collapse of coastal ecosystems. Science. 2001;293:629–38.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Jones JB. Environmental impact of trawling on the seabed: a review. N Z J Mar Freshw Res. 1992;26:59–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jones CG. Positive and negative effects of organisms as physical ecosystem engineers. Ecology. 1997;78:1946–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Josupeit H. Sponges: world production and markets. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organisation; 1990.Google Scholar
  20. Kerby TT, Cheung WWL, Engelhard GH. The United Kingdom’s role in North Sea demersal fisheries: a hundred year perspective. Rev Fish Biol Fish. 2012;22:621–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kirby MX. Fishing down the coast: historical expansion and collapse of oyster fisheries along continental margins. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2004;101:13096–9.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Koslow JA, Gowlett-Holmes K, Lowry JK, O’Hara T, Poore GCB, Williams A. Seamount benthic macrofauna off southern Tasmania: community structure and impacts of trawling. Mar Ecol Prog Ser. 2001;213:111–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lindeboom H, de Groot SJ. The effects of different types of fisheries on the North Sea and Irish Sea benthic ecosystems. Brussels: European Commission; 1997.Google Scholar
  24. Lotze HK, Worm B. Historical baselines for large marine animals. Trends Ecol Evol. 2009;24:254–62.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Lybolt M, Neil D, Zhao J-X, Yu KF, Feng Y-X, Pandolfi JM. Instability in a marginal coral reef: the shift from natural variability to a human-dominated seascape. Front Ecol Environ. 2011;9:154–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McClenachan L. Social conflict, overfishing and disease in the Florida sponge fishery, 1849–1939. In: Starkey D, editor. Oceans past: management insights from the History of Marine Animal Populations. London: Earthscan Publications Limited; 2008.Google Scholar
  27. Millar RH. Scottish oyster investigations 1946–1958, vol. 3. Edinburgh: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland: Marine Research; 1961.Google Scholar
  28. Möbius K. The oyster and oyster-culture. Washington, DC: Report of the United States Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries for 1880; 1883.Google Scholar
  29. Olsen OT. The piscatorial atlas of the North Sea, English Channel, and St. George’s Channels: illustrating the fishing ports, boats, gear, species of fish (how, where, and when caught), and other information concerning fish and fisheries. Grimsby:Taylor and Francis; 1883.Google Scholar
  30. Pandolfi JM, Jackson JBC. Community structure of Pleistocene coral reefs of Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles. Ecol Monogr. 2001;71:49–67.Google Scholar
  31. Pandolfi JM, Jackson JBC. Ecological persistence interrupted in Caribbean reef coral communities. Ecol Lett. 2006;9:818–26.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Pandolfi JM, Bradbury RH, Sala E, Hughes TP, Bjorndal KA, Cooke RG, McArdle D, McClenachan L, Newman MJH, Paredes G, Warner RR, Jackson JBC. Global trajectories of the long-term decline of coral reef ecosystems. Science. 2003;301:955-–958.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Roberts CM. The unnatural history of the sea. The past and future of humanity and fishing. Washington, DC: Island Press; 2007.Google Scholar
  34. Roff G, Clark TR, Reymond CE, Zhao J-x, Feng Y-x, McCook LJ, Done TJ, Pandolfi JM. Palaeoecological evidence of a historical collapse of corals at Pelorus Island, inshore Great Barrier Reef, following European settlement. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci. 2013;280:20122100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rossi S. The destruction of the animal forests in the oceans: towards an over-simplification of the benthic ecosystems. Ocean Coast Manag. 2013;84:77–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rumohr H, Kujawski T. The impact of trawl fishery on the epifauna of the southern North Sea. ICES J Mar Sci. 2000;57:1389–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sandin SA, Smith JE, DeMartini EE, Dinsdale EA, Donner SD, Friedlander AM, Konotchick T, Malay M, Maragos JE, Obura D, Pantos O, Paulay G, Richie M, Rohwer F, Schroeder RE, Walsh S, Jackson JBC, Knowlton N, Sala E. Baselines and degradation of coral reefs in the Northern Line Islands. PLoS One. 2008;3(2), e1548.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Saville-Kent W. The great barrier reef of Australia: its products and potentialities. London: WH Allen; 1893.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schulte DM, Burke RP, Lipcius RN. Unprecedented restoration of a native oyster metapopulation. Science. 2009;325:1124–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Swetnam TW, Allen CD, Betancourt JL. Applied historical ecology: Using the past to manage for the future. Ecol Appl. 1999;9:1189–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Thurstan RH, Brockington S, Roberts CM. The effects of 118 years of industrial fishing on UK bottom trawl fisheries. Nat Commun. 2010;1:15.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Thurstan RH, Hawkins JP, Raby L, Roberts CM. Oyster (Ostrea edulis) extirpation and ecosystem transformation in the Firth of Forth, Scotland. J Nat Conserv. 2013;21:253–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Thurstan RH, Hawkins JP, Roberts CM. Origins of the bottom trawling controversy in the British Isles: 19th century witness testimonies reveal evidence of early fishery declines. Fish Fish. 2014;15:506–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wachenfeld D. Long-term trends in the status of coral-flat benthos: the use of historical photographs. In: Wachenfeld D, Oliver J, Davis K, editors. State of the great barrier reef world heritage area workshop : proceedings of a technical workshop held in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, 27–29 November 1995. Townsville: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority; 1997.Google Scholar
  45. Watling L, Norse EA. Disturbance of the seabed by mobile fishing gear: a comparison to forest clearcutting. Conserv Biol. 1998;12:1180–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. zu Ermgassen PSE, Spalding MD, Blake B, Coen LD, Dumbauld B, Geiger S, Grabowski JH, Grizzle R, Luckenbach M, McGraw K, Rodney W, Ruesink JL, Powers SP, Brumbaugh R. Historical ecology with real numbers: past and present extent and biomass of an imperilled estuarine ecosystem. Proc R Soc B. 2012;279:3393–400.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. zu Ermgassen PE, Spalding M, Grizzle R, Brumbaugh R. Quantifying the loss of a marine ecosystem service: filtration by the Eastern oyster in US estuaries. Estuar Coasts. 2013a;36:36–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. zu Ermgassen PSE, Gray MW, Langdon CJ, Spalding MD, Brumbaugh RD. Quantifying the historic contribution of Olympia oysters to filtration in Pacific Coast (USA) estuaries and the implications for restoration objectives. Aquat Ecol. 2013b;47:149–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth H. Thurstan
    • 1
  • John M. Pandolfi
    • 1
  • Philine S. E. zu Ermgassen
    • 2
  1. 1.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and School of Biological SciencesThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations