Return to Neverland: Shifting Baselines Affect Eutrophication Restoration Targets.
Estuaries Coast. 2009; 32:29-36
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This paper examines the responses of four differing coastal ecosystems with long-term records of planktonic annual cycles to the abatement of eutrophication.
The authors report that all 4 sites have behaved differently following reductions in anthropogenic nutrient supply of the 1960/70s and none have returned to a pre-eutrophication baseline. Indeed, they question whether such a baseline can ever be reached by calling it "Neverland" (from Peter Pan) thereby dashing all hopes of ever returning to an original "pristine" condition. But their assessment raises some perplexing questions: why is it that restoration measures have worked in lakes where the effects of eutrophication have been much more severe? Given the fact that early workers (up to the onset of eutrophication) had indeed established a common pattern in most coastal ecosystems that was based on physico-chemical driving factors and summarised in the widely accepted Margalef's Mandala, why is that baseline now proving so elusive? Has the physico-chemical regime changed accordingly and in different ways in all the 4 ecosystems examined? Or were there additional driving forces at work whose impact was underestimated in the Mandala paradigm and have changed in the past decades? Experimental manipulations of lakes have shown that top-down forces mediated by grazing and pathogens play a crucial role in shaping annual cycles of planktonic communities. Again, given the fact that food chains in all coastal ecosystems have been disrupted by a tremendous increase in fishing pressure, could it be that changes in these top-down forces are the reason why we are faced by the bleak prospect of Neverland? The realization that annual cycles of coastal ecosystems have been undergoing profound changes in the course of the past few decades, even in areas not severely affected by eutrophication, is currently dawning on the bio-oceanographic community. This paper is a valuable contribution to this growing field.
Smetacek V and Loebl M: F1000Prime Recommendation of [Duarte CM et al., Estuaries Coast 2009, 32:29-36]. In F1000Prime, 15 May 2009; DOI: 10.3410/f.1159554.619936. F1000Prime.com/1159554#eval619936
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F1000Prime Recommendations, Dissents and Comments for [Duarte CM et al., Estuaries Coast 2009, 32:29-36]. In F1000Prime, 17 Sep 2014; F1000Prime.com/1159554
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