Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Assessing change in habitat composition, ecosystem functioning and service supply in Latvian protected stony reefs.

Abstract

Healthy and diverse marine ecosystems are a source of a whole range of ecosystem services (ES) and social, and economic benefits. To preserve and restore biodiversity, and sustain service supply, an international goal was set to protect at least 10% of the global coastal and marine area by 2020. The goal has been achieved mainly through the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs). Whilst activities within the MPAs can be restricted to manage local pressures, the protected habitats and species are still exposed to stressors that originate outside MPA borders (e.g., non-native species, eutrophication). This study investigates the change in the protected stony reef habitat composition using underwater video observation in the coastal area of the eastern Baltic Sea known to be under the pressure of a non-native fish species. Further, assesses what the observed changes have meant for ecosystem functioning and ES supply adopting a tailor-made, expert judgement-based ES supply assessment method developed during the BONUS BASMATI project. The results suggest that the quality of the protected habitats in the case study sites has deteriorated and the transformation in species composition has altered ecosystem functioning and ES supply. The study highlights the importance of rich and diverse habitats for human wellbeing and livelihoods. Further, emphasises the need for more stringent MPA management plans, as well as a wider ecosystem-based approach to decision making in order to limit the impacts of stressors on marine ecosystems and secure ES supply.