The Charisma of Coastal Ecosystems: Addressing the Imbalance
Coastal ecosystems including coral reefs, mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, and salt marshes are being lost at alarming rates, and increased scientific understanding of causes has failed to stem these losses. Coastal habitats receive contrasting research effort, with 60% of all of the published research carried out on coral reefs, compared to 11–14% of the records for each of salt marshes, mangrove forests, and seagrass meadows. In addition, these highly connected and interdependent coastal ecosystems receive widely contrasting media attention that is disproportional to their scientific attention. Seagrass ecosystems receive the least attention in the media (1.3% of the media reports) with greater attention on salt marshes (6.5%), considerably more attention on mangroves (20%), and a dominant focus on coral reefs, which are the subject of three in every four media reports on coastal ecosystems (72.5%). There are approximately tenfold lower reports on seagrass meadows in the media for every scientific paper published (ten), than the 130–150 media reports per scientific paper for mangroves and coral reefs. The lack of public awareness of losses of less charismatic ecosystems results in the continuation of detrimental practices and therefore contributes to continued declines of coastal ecosystems. More effective communication of scientific knowledge about these uncharismatic but ecologically important coastal habitats is required. Effective use of formal (e.g., school curricula, media) and informal (e.g., web) education avenues and an effective partnership between scientists and media communicators are essential to raise public awareness of issues, concerns, and solutions within coastal ecosystems. Only increased public understanding can ultimately inform and motivate effective management of these ecologically important coastal ecosystems.
- Achard, F., H.D. Eva, H.J. Stibig, P. Mayaux, J. Gallego, T. Richards, and J.P. Malingreau. 2002. Determination of deforestation rates of the world’s humid tropical forests. Science 297: 999–1002. CrossRef
- Adam, P. 2002. Saltmarshes in a time of change. Environmental Conservation 29: 39–61. CrossRef
- Adger, W.N., T.P. Hughes, C. Folke, S.R. Carpenter, and J. Rockström. 2005. Social-ecological resilience to coastal disasters. Science 309: 1036–1039. CrossRef
- Balmford, A., and W. Bond. 2005. Trends in the state of nature and their implications for human well-being. Ecology Letters 8: 1218–1234. CrossRef
- Bellwood, D.R., T.P. Hughes, C. Folke, and M. Nystrom. 2004. Confronting the coral reef crisis. Nature 429: 827–833. CrossRef
- Cohen, J.E., C. Small, A. Mellinger, J. Gallup, and J. Sachs. 1997. Estimates of coastal populations. Science 278: 1211–1212.
- Costanza, R., R. d’Arge, R. de Groot, S. Farber, M. Grasso, B. Hannon, K. Limburg, S. Naeem, R.V. O’Neill, J. Paruelo, R.G. Raskin, P. Sutton, and M. van den Belt. 1997. The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 387: 253–260. CrossRef
- Curran, S.R., A.A. Kumar, W. Lutz, and M. Williams. 2002. Interactions between coastal and marine ecosystems and human population systems: perspectives on how consumption mediates this interaction. Ambio 31: 264–268. CrossRef
- Dennison, W.C., T.R. Lookingbill, T.J.B. Carruthers, J.M. Hawkey, and S.L. Carter. 2007. An eye opening approach to developing and communicating integrated environmental assessments. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5: 307–314. CrossRef
- Duarte, C.M. 2002. The future of seagrass meadow. Environmental Conservation 29: 192–206. CrossRef
- Ellison, J.C., and D.R. Stoddart. 1991. Mangrove ecosystem collapse during predicted sea-level rise: Holocene analogues and implications. Journal of Coastal Research 7: 151–165.
- Gardner, T.A., I.M. Cote, J.A. Gill, A. Grant, and A.R. Watkinson. 2003. Long-term region-wide declines in Caribbean corals. Science 301: 958–960. CrossRef
- Jackson, J.B.C., M.X. Kirby, W.H. Berger, K.A. Bjorndal, L.W. Botsford, B.J. Bourque, R.H. Bradbury, R. Cooke, J. Erlandson, J.A. Estes, T.P. Hughes, S. Kidwell, C.B. Lange, H.S. Lenihan, J.M. Pandolfi, C.H. Peterson, R.S. Steneck, M.J. Tegner, and R.R. Warneret. 2001. Historical overfishing and the recent collapse of coastal ecosystems. Science 293: 629–638. CrossRef
- Inglehart, R. 1995. Public support for environmental protection: Objective problems and subjective values in 43 societies. Political Science and Politics 28: 57–72. CrossRef
- Kathiresan, K., and N. Rajendran. 2005. Coastal mangrove forests mitigated tsunami. Estuarine Coastal Shelf Sci. 65: 601–606. CrossRef
- LOICZ. 2002. Report of the LOICZ synthesis and futures meeting 2002: coastal change and the anthropocene. 91The Netherlands: LOICZ international project office (IPO), Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), Texel.
- Lotze, H.K., H.S. Lenizan, B.J. Bourque, R.H. Bradbury, R.G. Cooke, M.C. Kay, S.M. Kidwell, M.X. Kirby, C.H. Peterson, and J.B.C. Jackson. 2006. Depletion, degradation, and recovery potential of estuaries and coastal seas. Science 312: 1806–1809. CrossRef
- Marbà, N., C.M. Duarte, E. Díaz-Almela, J. Terrados, W. Álvarez, R. Martínez, R. Santiago, E. Gacia, and A.M. Grau. 2005. Direct evidence of imbalanced seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) shoot population dynamics along the Spanish Mediterranean. Estuaries 28: 53–62. CrossRef
- National Research Council (NRC). 1990. Managing Coastal Erosion. Washington, DC, USA: National Academy Press.
- Orth, R.J., T.J.B. Carruthers, W.C. Dennison, C.M. Duarte, J.W. Fourqurean, K.L. Heck, A.R. Hughes, G.A. Kendrick, W.J. Kenworthy, S. Olyarnik, F.T. Short, M. Waycott, and S.L. Williams. 2006. A global crisis for seagrass ecosystems. Bioscience 5612: 987–996. CrossRef
- Pernetta, J.C., and J.D. Milliman. 1995. Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone – Implementation Plan. IGBP Global Change Report No. 33. 215. Stockholm, Sweden: International Geosphere- Biosphere Programme.
- Rose, O.H., and P. Bridgewater. 2003. New approaches needed to environmental education and public awareness. Prospects 33: 263–272. CrossRef
- Short, F.T., and S. Wyllie-Echeverria. 1998. Natural and human-induced disturbance of seagrasses. Environmental Conservation 23: 17–27. CrossRef
- Thomas, J.E., T.A. Saxby, A.B. Jones, T.J.B. Carruthers, E.G. Abal, and W.C. Dennison. 2006. Communicating Science Effectively: A practical handbook for integrating visual elements. 132. London: IWA Publishing.
- Tibbetts, J. 2006. Louisiana’s wetlands: A lesson in nature appreciation. Environmental Health Perspectives 114A: 40–43. CrossRef
- Valiela, I., J.L. Bowen, and J.K. Cork. 2001. Mangrove forests: One of the world’s threatened major tropical environments. Bioscience 51: 807–815. CrossRef
- The Charisma of Coastal Ecosystems: Addressing the Imbalance
- Open Access
- Available under Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Estuaries and Coasts
Volume 31, Issue 2 , pp 233-238
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links
- Coastal habitats
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados, CSIC-UIB, Miquel Marqués 21, 07190, Esporles (Mallorca), Spain
- 2. University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Cambridge, MD, 21613, USA
- 3. School of Marine Science, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, Gloucester Point, VA, 23062, USA