Eight habitats, 38 threats & 55 experts

Our new paper "Eight habitats, 38 threats and 55 experts: Assessing ecological risk in a multi-use marine region" is just out in PLoS ONE and is available for free download (see below). The research focused on Spencer Gulf in South Australia, a key region for development in the state. We conducted a risk assessment for 38 human-mediated threats to eight marine habitats (totalling 304 threat-habitat combinations). We got experts to complete surveys indicating the likely effect of each threat on each habitat (effect score) along with an indication of uncertainty. We also estimated spatial overlap between each threat and each habitat (spatial exposure score). The effect score and the spatial exposure score were multiplied to provide a risk score.

Overall, climate change threats received the highest risk rankings, with nutrient discharge identified as a key local-scale stressor (see word cloud below). 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. Our approach allowed us to identify critical knowledge gaps and quantify uncertainty for each threat providing guidance for research and management. The framework presented in our paper can be applied to marine regions where empirical data are lacking.

For more information see: Doubleday, Jones, Deveney, Ward & Gillanders (2017) Eight habitats, 38 threats and 55 experts: assessing ecological risk in a multi-use marine region. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0177393.