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Nov. 3rd, 2006 @ 11:37 am (no subject)
So, I'm guessing by now some of you have seen the huge amount of coverage with headlines somethingn like "NO SEAFOOD BY 2048!" - it's even in The NY Times. What's interesting is that fisheries collapse around the world - not news (well, to those paying attention). Moreso, the 2048 date was a throwaway line from one piece of analysis from this paper in Science. The paper is more focused on the consequences of marine biodiversity loss in the oceans, and uses metaanalysis to show that experimental data is in concordance with what we are seeing in field patterns - that diversity leads to increases in functions and services, and that MPAs and other things that increase and preserve diversity lead to recover of fisheries.

Human-dominated marine ecosystems are experiencing accelerating loss of populations and species, with largely unknown consequences. We analyzed local experiments, long-term regional time series, and global fisheries data to test how biodiversity loss affects marine ecosystem services across temporal and spatial scales. Overall, rates of resource collapse increased and recovery potential, stability, and water quality decreased exponentially with declining diversity. Restoration of biodiversity, in contrast, increased productivity fourfold and decreased variability by 21%, on average. We conclude that marine biodiversity loss is increasingly impairing the ocean's capacity to provide food, maintain water quality, and recover from perturbations. Yet available data suggest that at this point, these trends are still reversible.

I'm heartened that after the "hook" some news agencies are also reporting the main result of the paper, but not everywhere. Interesting how a little piece that is almost tangential to the main point of a major ecological advance can become what gets passed on to the public.
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Date:November 3rd, 2006 08:59 pm (UTC)


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Why do you think that seafood collapse is 'tangential' to the main point? The paper is about how marine biodiversity loss has detrimental effects on the provision of ocean ecosystem services - including fisheries. I'd also suggest that this 'little piece' is the news hook not as a fiat of the new agencies, but because a potential loss of seafood is one of the few things that will make the public sit up and take notice of all the crap happening in our oceans. No one would pay attention if you said that seagrass productivity will decrease with monocultured beds.
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Date:November 4th, 2006 01:43 am (UTC)

Re: Tangential?

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True, true. I just think the point could have been a bit less alarmist. Already, there are a lot of people out there saying "Right, and the sky is falling, too."

There are other ways of stating the central point of the paper that are provocative, and emphasize the more interesting conclusions rather than just the "Beware of 2048!" bit.
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Date:November 3rd, 2006 09:48 pm (UTC)
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I saw that in the Times this morning, and it's the paper I'm taking to discuss at our grad seminar this afternoon :)
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Date:November 28th, 2006 02:03 am (UTC)
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Well, what was the conclusion?
(also, sorry we never got to meet up at WSN!)
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Date:November 4th, 2006 01:44 am (UTC)
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I found it interesting that the release of this article on overfishing came at the same time as the big release about research showing that seafood has many health benefits and encouraging people to eat more seafood (Example).... doh!

Yeah, slightly off topic of your post...but I had been planning on posting something when I saw these within a day of each other.