51st European Marine Biology Symposium: ECOPOTENTIAL presentation on the role of ecosystems functions and services as requirements for Protected Areas

 26 – 30 September 2016, Rhodes, Greece

At the 51st European Marine Biology Symposium, held from 26 to 30 September in Rhodes, Greece, Herman Hummel and his colleagues illustrated the aims and role of ECOPOTENTIAL in a presentation entitled “The role of ecosystem functions and ecosystem services among the requirements for protected areas”.

In the presentation they showed the different views of scientist versus managers of protected areas (PAs) regarding the importance of various ecological, environmental, and socio-economic indicators for ecosystem functions, ecosystem services and drivers of change. The ECOPOTENTIAL PAs considered in this study were the coastal areas of the Wadden Sea, Dutch Delta, Curonian lagoon, and Camargue and the mountainous areas of Gran Paradiso, Kalkalpen, Sierra Nevada, Peneda-Gerês and Samaria.

They showed that, among scientists, in the coastal areas the abiotic environmental factors (including e.g. habitat heterogeneity and substrate type) were indicated as the most important requirements for (ecosystem functions and services in) Marine Pas, whereas, for the mountainous domain biotic factors (including primary production, biodiversity and food provision) were deemed the most important. In both domains, socio-economic and cultural factors were indicated by scientists as less important. This view of the scientists was at odds with the view of managers of Pas, who indicated that socio-economic factors, including policy and politics are important factors to take into account for the installation of PAs.

Main conclusion is that, in joint cooperation between scientists and managers, social and economic factors need to be more emphasized and integrated with the abiotic and biotic factors in order to qualify and install PAs. Taking into account the social and economic needs of ecosystem services beneficiaries, this study will help supporting the assessment of factors, including ecosystem services and functions, which can set or alter management strategies and policy options for current and novel Protected Areas.

The EMBS is a unique conference series with a history of already over 50 years, yet still in full swing. It is known for its informal atmosphere, moderate size of the audience (around 200 to 250 participants), and proper attention to all presentations (no parallel sessions), all promoting personal contacts to exchange ideas and experiences in vivid discussions and scientific debate. Moreover, the EMBS is known for its traditional annual games of the “Yellow Submarine competition”, in which you can win the ultimate trophy, the EMBS Yellow Submarine.

More information on the EMBS can be found in Hummel, Frost & Hummel, 2015: Celebrating 50 years of the European Marine Biology Symposium. The Marine Biologist 4: 26-27.

Link to the EMBS51 website:  http://www.embs51.org/