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What's new in 'Linking macroecology and models to ecosystem services' (module 5)

Published: 15 October 2015

Ecosystem services workshopThe last few months have flown by for Module 5 with lots of different activities. After our return from Drymen we firstly collated all the information we gathered into the workshop report (on SharePoint in the ‘Meetings’ folder). Many thanks again to all those present for their useful contributions.

One big output was the information we gained about processes and how they feed into each other and into the four ecosystem services we are focusing on, namely food provision, leisure and recreation, biological checks and balances, and bioremediation. This really helps us to improve the conceptual models we are working on in terms of how closely they represent the ecosystem.

Since then we have extended the list of processes and clarified their descriptions, also via feedback from some of you. For example, ‘Benthic (seabed) processes’ has been split into several processes, such as bioturbation and suspension feeding, with input from MERP modellers. We also relabelled some processes from the workshop (e.g. human-induced seabed changes due to trawling/dredging) as stressors and have added others, such as noise and plastic pollution.

Reflecting on discussions at Drymen, we realised that more clarity is needed about the distinction between processes, services and benefits, and there is a need to improve the definitions of these terms and the ecosystem services that MERP is focusing on. We will therefore post a list of descriptions and information on SharePoint. Feedback on these (e.g. whether they are clear and helpful) would be appreciated as they are intended to help communication amongst us all.

We also drew new conceptual models for each of the four ecosystem services (Figure 1) based on the Drymen output. We have particularly enjoyed constructing a model with Dr Peter Evans (Sea Watch Foundation) on cetaceans, which also included work on oceanic fronts by Dr Peter Miller (Plymouth Marine Laboratory).
Figure 1
We have a first, rough draft of a paper on the usefulness of Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) indicators for assessing ecosystem services and we have asked the MERP Stakeholder Advisory Group Chair, Dr Matt Frost, to help us obtain an up-to date list of the UK proposed indicators to enable a more UK- targeted aspect in the paper. We have already assessed indicators from the DEVOTES database, DEVOTOOL.


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