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First map of threats to marine ecosystems shows all the world's oceans are affected
Date:2/14/2008

CHAPEL HILL As vast and far-reaching as the worlds oceans are, every square kilometer is affected by human activities, according to a study in the journal Science by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and others.

The international team of scientists integrated global data from 17 aspects of global change from overfishing to global warming that threaten 20 different marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs and continental shelves. Similar to an online satellite map that lets you add layers of highways, retail stores, schools, parks, etc., to find the most congested areas or the highest concentration of fast food restaurants, the global threat map highlights areas in the ocean where threats overlap.

The researchers scored the potential threats from having very-low to very-high impacts and found that affects were ubiquitous, and more than 40 percent of the oceans experience medium- to very high-impact threats.

For the first time we can see where some of the most threatened marine ecosystems are and what might be degrading them, said Elizabeth Selig, an author on the study and a doctoral student in UNCs curriculum in ecology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The study, led by Benjamin Halpern at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, Calif., was presented today (Feb. 14, 2008) in Boston at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

This study quantifies the extent of the problems that marine scientists have long known to be issues. But its not enough to just know somethings a problem, said John Bruno, associate professor of Marine Sciences at UNC. If you want to do something about it you have to know where the problems are and whats causing them.

This information enables us to tailor strategies and set priorities for ecosystem management, Selig said. And it shows that while local efforts are important, w
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Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

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