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Eight habitats, 38 threats and 55 experts: assessing ecological risk in a multi-use marine region


Doubleday, ZA and Jones, AR and Deveney, MR and Ward, TM and Gillanders, BM, Eight habitats, 38 threats and 55 experts: assessing ecological risk in a multi-use marine region, PLoS ONE, 12, (5) Article e0177393. ISSN 1932-6203 (2017) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright: 2017 Doubleday et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0177393


Identifying the relative risk human activities pose to a habitat, and the ecosystem services they provide, can guide management prioritisation and resource allocation. Using a combination of expert elicitation to assess the probable effect of a threat and existing data to assess the level of threat exposure, we conducted a risk assessment for 38 human-mediated threats to eight marine habitats (totalling 304 threat-habitat combinations) in Spencer Gulf, Australia. We developed a score-based survey to collate expert opinion and assess the relative effect of each threat to each habitat, as well as a novel and independent measure of knowledge-based uncertainty. Fifty-five experts representing multiple sectors and institutions participated in the study, with 6 to 15 survey responses per habitat (n = 81 surveys). We identified key threats specific to each habitat; overall, climate change threats received the highest risk rankings, with nutrient discharge identified as a key local-scale stressor. Invasive species and most fishing-related threats, which are commonly identified as major threats to the marine environment, were ranked as low-tier threats to Spencer Gulf, emphasising the importance of regionally-relevant assessments. Further, we identified critical knowledge gaps and quantified uncertainty scores for each risk. Our approach will facilitate prioritisation of resource allocation in a region of increasing social, economic and environmental importance, and can be applied to marine regions where empirical data are lacking.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ecological risk assessment, benthic habitats, Spencer Gulf
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Environmental assessment and monitoring
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Ward, TM (Associate Professor Timothy Ward)
ID Code:147465
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:12
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2021-11-02
Last Modified:2021-12-07
Downloads:2 View Download Statistics

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