Marine Biologists global work to save the world’s coral reefs has drawn attention to the fact that the reefs are being increasingly affected by human activity. This has led for such scientists to push for the inclusion of the assessment of the effects of non-direct activities, such as activities occurring in markets or cities.
Writing in a special issue of Functional Ecology, “Coral reef functional ecology in the Anthropocene”, and using coral reefs as an example, the scientists call for the inclusion of socio-economic activity into account when predicting future ecosystem responses of coral reefs.
This is in contrast to previous approaches which focused on the local human impacts such as fishing, and nutrient run-offs from agriculture, or the sedimentation as a result of coastal developments. The new proposition pushes for models to include the effect of economic or demographic activity in distant markets, through increases in global CO2 levels, global demands for fish or tourist numbers.
Dr. Gareth Williams, School of Ocean Sciences and lead author of the paper and guest editor of the special edition explains: “Measuring only local effects such as fishing is missing the wider picture. In fact, there are complex socio-economic drivers that ultimately dictate fishing levels on a reef, drivers such as trade, consumer demands, distance to markets and human migration. We need to work to understand how these global human activities are linked to local-scale effects such as fishing, and how they interact across scales.”