Ecological forecasts can help protect marine life a year in advance

by time news

2023-12-04 18:00:14

An article published in Nature Communications suggests that marine management tools could be used to prevent Whales they get tangled up or that the sea ​​turtles sean accidentally captured one year in advance.

The results of this study by Australian researchers show that these tools (which already exist) could be used to warn of ecosystem conditions during extreme weather situations, similar to the Weather forecast.

Climate change is disrupting ecosystems and human society on a global scale, and urgently needed ecological predictions to support resource management and decision making, the authors warn.

Advances in Earth system models can help predict how climate variations will affect marine ecosystems

As society faces uncertain environmental conditionsthere is a need to also have forecasts for the environment, say these experts from the Australian research agency Environment, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

They cite, in this sense, advances in terrestrial system models, which can help predict how climate variations will affect marine ecosystems, which would serve, in turn, to predict and reduce the impact on fishing. However, the current applications of ecological predictions remain limited.

Stephanie Brodie and her colleagues highlight the ability of these forecasts to to anticipate at interactions between man and wildlife caused by extreme weather events.

Loggerhead sea turtle off California, USA, observed during a study by the US Meteorological Agency (NOAA), in 2014. / Paula Olson

Thus, they used management tools already in use in the California Current ecosystem that can identify when colder waters, used by whales such as humpbacks, are pushed toward shore, putting the whales at risk of becoming entangled in networks crab fishing.

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These tools also allow establishing when fishing with drift gillnets should be prohibited to avoid accidental capture of loggerhead turtlesfor example, something that is also due to the temperature anomalies.

The authors demonstrate how these instruments can be incorporated into a forecasting system that provides reliable forecasts up to 12 months in advance.

These models could be extended to numerous coastal ecosystems around the world to help improve marine resource management.

They also point out the usefulness of global forecasts with a relatively low resolution, without the need to adjust them to regional characteristics. This could allow its use in areas that lack the necessary resources to modify the scale of models, as can happen in developing countries.

The authors state that early warning of possible threats is key to developing proactive management strategies that help reduce uncertainty in the face of the challenges of global change.

These procedures could be extended to numerous coastal ecosystems around the world to help improve global management of marine resources, according to scientists.


Brodie, L. et al. “Ecological forecasts for marine resource management during climate extremes”. Nature Communications (2023)

Rights: Creative Commons.

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