Research Topic

Marine Ecosystem Assessment for the Southern Ocean: Meeting the Challenge for Conserving Earth Ecosystems in the Long Term

About this Research Topic

National and international agencies need assessments of change in ecosystems and their drivers in order to sustain natural systems, to maintain the delivery of services and to meet the challenge for conserving Earth ecosystems in the long term. In marine systems, change may arise directly from human activities (e.g. fisheries), indirectly from local or global activities (cascading effects through food webs from fisheries or changing environments from climate change and/or ocean acidification), or from naturally varying processes. A particular challenge for managers is to identify how dangerous future climate change will be for ecosystems and their services and whether mitigation or adaptation may be needed, in advance, in order to achieve the conservation requirements. For regions of international attention, particularly those that have the attention of many management or policy-oriented bodies, a standardized process is needed to harmonize the scientific information on the status and trends in ecosystems used by the different bodies. That process also needs to ensure the information is available in a timely manner.

By example, assessments of change in habitats, species and/or food webs in the Southern Ocean are currently compiled separately for at least ten different international organizations or processes. A Marine Ecosystem Assessment for the Southern Ocean (MEASO) aims to harmonize that information for policy-makers. This assessment began with an international conference in April 2018 (http://www.measo2018.aq/), where it was agreed to undertake the first MEASO over 2018-2019 with the view to provide the outcomes to relevant bodies, such as the Scientific Committee for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, soon after.

In this Research Topic, we encourage articles developed under the following MEASO themes: (i) Context, including changing global and local drivers of change in Southern Ocean ecosystems; (ii) Status and trends of marine biota in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, including details of their critical limits and relationships (attribution of change) to key drivers, such as habitats; (iii) Spatial differentiation and trends in Southern Ocean food webs, (iv) Challenges for policy makers, including ecosystem services, changing habitats and coastal and shelf systems, and sentinels of change, (v) Lessons, methods, gaps, and future priorities from MEASO-1 and other environmental assessments, and (vi) Foundations and extensions of MEASO.

Our objective is to encourage Original Research, Reviews and Policy Briefs within each of the six themes. These synthesis papers should cover the breadth of current scientific views, the strength of evidence and degree of confidence (IPCC-style) around those views, identify the priority gaps for reducing uncertainty, and consolidate key conclusions for policy makers. Contributions synthesizing socio-ecological perspectives on change in the region are welcome. Specific case studies may be developed in the sixth theme, but should take a circumpolar view on one or more habitats/species or a whole-of-system view within one or more MEASO assessment areas (http://soki.aq/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=61210912). Single species assessments within a confined area will not be accepted.


Keywords: Antarctica, CCAMLR, CEP, Polar ecosystems, Risk, Fisheries, MPA, State of the Environment


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.

National and international agencies need assessments of change in ecosystems and their drivers in order to sustain natural systems, to maintain the delivery of services and to meet the challenge for conserving Earth ecosystems in the long term. In marine systems, change may arise directly from human activities (e.g. fisheries), indirectly from local or global activities (cascading effects through food webs from fisheries or changing environments from climate change and/or ocean acidification), or from naturally varying processes. A particular challenge for managers is to identify how dangerous future climate change will be for ecosystems and their services and whether mitigation or adaptation may be needed, in advance, in order to achieve the conservation requirements. For regions of international attention, particularly those that have the attention of many management or policy-oriented bodies, a standardized process is needed to harmonize the scientific information on the status and trends in ecosystems used by the different bodies. That process also needs to ensure the information is available in a timely manner.

By example, assessments of change in habitats, species and/or food webs in the Southern Ocean are currently compiled separately for at least ten different international organizations or processes. A Marine Ecosystem Assessment for the Southern Ocean (MEASO) aims to harmonize that information for policy-makers. This assessment began with an international conference in April 2018 (http://www.measo2018.aq/), where it was agreed to undertake the first MEASO over 2018-2019 with the view to provide the outcomes to relevant bodies, such as the Scientific Committee for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, soon after.

In this Research Topic, we encourage articles developed under the following MEASO themes: (i) Context, including changing global and local drivers of change in Southern Ocean ecosystems; (ii) Status and trends of marine biota in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, including details of their critical limits and relationships (attribution of change) to key drivers, such as habitats; (iii) Spatial differentiation and trends in Southern Ocean food webs, (iv) Challenges for policy makers, including ecosystem services, changing habitats and coastal and shelf systems, and sentinels of change, (v) Lessons, methods, gaps, and future priorities from MEASO-1 and other environmental assessments, and (vi) Foundations and extensions of MEASO.

Our objective is to encourage Original Research, Reviews and Policy Briefs within each of the six themes. These synthesis papers should cover the breadth of current scientific views, the strength of evidence and degree of confidence (IPCC-style) around those views, identify the priority gaps for reducing uncertainty, and consolidate key conclusions for policy makers. Contributions synthesizing socio-ecological perspectives on change in the region are welcome. Specific case studies may be developed in the sixth theme, but should take a circumpolar view on one or more habitats/species or a whole-of-system view within one or more MEASO assessment areas (http://soki.aq/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=61210912). Single species assessments within a confined area will not be accepted.


Keywords: Antarctica, CCAMLR, CEP, Polar ecosystems, Risk, Fisheries, MPA, State of the Environment


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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Submission Deadlines

20 December 2019 Manuscript
19 June 2020 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

20 December 2019 Manuscript
19 June 2020 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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