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ICES WKFOOWI REPORT 2014
ICES A DVISORY C OMMITTEE
ICES CM 2014\ACOM:48
Report of the Workshop to develop
recommendations for potentially useful Food Web Indicators (WKFooWI)
31 March–3 April 2014
ICES Headquarters, Copenhagen, Denmark
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
Conseil International pour l’Exploration de la Mer
H. C. Andersens Boulevard 44–46
DK-1553 Copenhagen V
Denmark
Telephone (+45) 33 38 67 00
Telefax (+45) 33 93 42 15
www.ices.dk
[email protected]
Recommended format for purposes of citation:
ICES. 2014. Report of the Workshop to develop recommendations for potentially useful Food Web Indicators (WKFooWI), 31 March–3 April 2014, ICES Headquarters, Copenhagen, Denmark. ICES CM 2014\ACOM:48. 75 pp.
For permission to reproduce material from this publication, please apply to the General Secretary.
The document is a report of an Expert Group under the auspices of the International
Council for the Exploration of the Sea and does not necessarily represent the views of
the Council.
© 2014 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
| i
C on t en t s
Executive summary ................................................................................................................ 5
1
2
3
4
5
Introduction and Expectations .................................................................................... 6
1.1
Background and Rationale for WKFooWI......................................................... 6
1.2
A brief Primer on Food Webs.............................................................................. 7
1.3
Emergent properties of food webs ..................................................................... 7
1.4
Expectations for the workshop ........................................................................... 7
Policy and Management Needs for Indicators ......................................................... 9
2.1
MSFD Context for FooWIs .................................................................................. 9
2.2
Other Contexts for FooWIs .................................................................................. 9
2.3
Key Discussion Points regarding FooWI Contexts ........................................ 10
Review of Indicator Selection Criteria .................................................................... 11
3.1
Background & the WKFooWI approach .......................................................... 11
3.2
7 step framework (Rice and Rochet) ................................................................ 11
3.3
A methodology to assess OSPAR Common Indicators ................................. 12
3.4
Criteria selection ................................................................................................. 13
3.5
Further considerations relevant to the selection of a portfolio of food
web indicators ........................................................................................................ 15
3.6
Key Discussion Points regarding Indicator Selection Protocols &
Criteria.................................................................................................................. 16
Indicator Responses and Thresholds ....................................................................... 17
4.1
The need for Indicator Responses and Thresholds ........................................ 17
4.2
Methods and Examples for Estimating Indicator Responses and
Thresholds ........................................................................................................... 17
4.3
Resilience and Indicators ................................................................................... 18
4.4
Key Discussion Points regarding Indicator Responses and
Thresholds ........................................................................................................... 18
Indicators presented to WKFOOWI ......................................................................... 19
5.1
Presentation of food web indicators................................................................. 19
5.2
Functional Indicators linked to Energy Flow.................................................. 24
5.2.1 Seabird breeding success ...................................................................... 24
5.2.2 Productivity (production per unit biomass) of key predators
24
5.2.3 Mean weight at age of predatory fish species from data.................. 24
5.2.4 Total Mortality (Production:Biomass ratio)........................................ 25
5.2.5 Primary Production Required to support fisheries ........................... 25
5.2.6 Productive pelagic habitat index (chlorophyll fronts) ...................... 25
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ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
5.2.7
5.2.8
5.2.9
5.2.10
5.2.11
5.2.12
5.2.13
5.2.14
5.2.15
5.2.16
5.2.17
5.3
Ecosystem exploitation (fisheries) ....................................................... 26
Community Condition .......................................................................... 26
Mean trophic level of the catch ............................................................ 26
Marine trophic index of the community (MTI).................................. 26
Mean trophic level of the community ................................................. 26
Disturbance index .................................................................................. 27
Loss in secondary production index (L index) .................................. 27
Cumulative distribution of biomass assessment ............................... 27
Trophic balance index (Fishing pattern) ............................................. 28
Mean transfer efficiency for a given TL or size .................................. 28
Finn Cycling Index................................................................................. 28
Functional Indicators linked to ecosystem resilience .................................... 28
5.3.1 Mean trophic links per species ............................................................. 28
5.3.2 Ecological Network Analysis derived indicators (overall
mean Transfer Efficiency) ..................................................................... 28
5.3.3 Gini-Simpson dietary diversity index ................................................. 29
5.3.4 Herbivory : detritivory ratio ................................................................. 29
5.3.5 Ecological Network indices of ecosystem status and change
(Ulankowicz) .......................................................................................... 29
5.3.6 System omnivory index ........................................................................ 30
5.4
Structural Indicators linked to diversity and ‘canary’ species ..................... 30
5.4.1
5.4.2
5.4.3
5.4.4
5.4.5
5.4.6
5.4.7
5.4.8
5.4.9
5.4.10
5.4.11
5.4.12
5.4.13
5.4.14
5.4.15
5.4.16
5.4.17
6
Guild Surplus Production models ....................................................... 30
Total biomass of small fish ................................................................... 31
Proportion of Predatory Fish................................................................ 31
Pelagic to demersal ratio ....................................................................... 31
Biomass of trophic guilds ..................................................................... 31
Lifeform-based indicator for the pelagic habitat ............................... 32
Region-specific indicators of abundance & spatial
distribution, ............................................................................................ 32
Fish biomass/benthos biomass from models...................................... 32
Zooplankton spatial distribution and total biomass ......................... 33
Scavenger biomass ................................................................................. 33
Geometric mean abundance of seabirds ............................................. 33
Gini-Simpson diversity index (species dominance) of large
and small fish by biomass ..................................................................... 34
Species Richness Index .......................................................................... 34
The large fish indicator (LFI) ................................................................ 34
Mean length of surveyed community ................................................. 35
Size spectra slope ................................................................................... 35
Zooplankton Size-Biomass index ........................................................ 35
Application of agreed evaluation criteria to proposed Food Web
Indicators ....................................................................................................................... 37
6.1
Applying Selection Criteria ............................................................................... 37
6.2
Using Selection Criteria ..................................................................................... 37
6.3
Challenges and Observations concerning application of the
Selection Criteria ................................................................................................. 37
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
7
| iii
Selection of appropriate food web indicators ........................................................ 38
7.1
Indicator appraisal: Food web function........................................................... 38
7.1.1 Productivity (production per unit biomass, including
seabird breeding success) ..................................................................... 38
7.1.2 Total Mortality (Production:Biomass ratio)........................................ 39
7.1.3 Primary Production required to sustain a fishery ............................. 39
7.1.4 Productive pelagic habitat index (Chlorophyll fronts) ..................... 39
7.1.5 Ecosystem exploitation (fisheries) ....................................................... 39
7.1.6 The suite of marine trophic level indicators ....................................... 39
7.1.7 Other low scoring functional indicators ............................................. 40
7.1.8 Indicator appraisal: Resilience Indicators ........................................... 40
7.2
Indicator appraisal: Structural Indicators........................................................ 40
7.2.1 Guild-level biomass across ecosystem components.......................... 41
7.2.2 Validity of Results .................................................................................. 41
8
Roadmap highlighting process for further development of indicators
where necessary ........................................................................................................... 42
8.1
. Choosing Suggested Indicators ...................................................................... 42
8.1.1
8.1.2
8.1.3
8.1.4
8.1.5
8.2
Suggested FooWIs for Current Use ..................................................... 43
Future development of FooWIs ........................................................... 44
Other Considerations for Future Indicator Development ................ 46
Protocols to Evaluate future FooWIs (and other indicators)............ 46
Protocols to establish more rigorous thresholds for FooWIs
(and other indicators) ............................................................................ 47
Timelines .............................................................................................................. 47
9
Recommendations ....................................................................................................... 48
10
References ..................................................................................................................... 49
Annex 1: List of participants............................................................................................... 59
Annex 2: Agenda................................................................................................................... 65
Annex 3: WKFOOWI terms of reference .......................................................................... 67
Annex 4: Technical Review of Indicators for MSFD Descriptor 4 .............................. 69
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
| 5
Executive summary
This workshop brought together international experts in food webs, marine ecology,
and management, to identify appropriate Food Web Indicators. The work contributed
to ongoing requirements in Europe, North America and elsewhere to manage marine
ecosystems in a holistic manner. The workshop built on progress already made to support Descriptor 4 (Food Webs) through a joint JRC/ DG ENV task force, and guidance
from the European Commission on provisional guidelines for setting targets and defining indicators. The workshop applied standard evaluation criteria to progress the
(i) identification and evaluation of practical food web indicators (FooWIs) ready for
operational use, and (ii) identification of FooWIs that hold reasonable promise in the
near- to medium term future but that require further development. It was recognized
that structure and functioning of food webs were the major attributes for which indicators were required, following earlier guidance by the Commission. In addition,
WKFooWI emphasized that resilience of food webs was a key aspect of ecosystem behaviour and environmental status and so was treated as an additional attribute. Over
60 potential food web indicators were evaluated in these three categories. WKFooWI
concluded that in the short term for the specific Descriptor 4 context, indicators on; the
primary production required to sustain a fishery, the productivity of seabirds (or similar charismatic megafauna), zooplankton indicators based on community biomass,
size structure and productivity, integrated trophic indicators (including e.g. mean
trophic level, mean size, etc), and the biomass of trophic guilds, should be considered
for application at a Regional Seas scale. Suggestions were also made for areas for further development in the medium-term future (i.e. 2–3 years). It was emphasized that
more efforts should be made to encourage a greater level of integration in the development of indicators elsewhere in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and Regional Seas Conventions, in order to encourage more coherence at a regional seas scale.
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ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
1
Introduction and Expectations
1.1
Background and Rationale for WKFooWI
Modern approaches to sustainable use of marine resources must account for the myriad impacts (exploitation, deposition, disruption, and other stressors) accrued from utilizing the goods and services from the entire ecosystem. An important aspect of any
marine ecosystem is its food web, i.e. the network of feeding interactions between coexisting species and populations. This workshop on Food Web Indicators (WKFooWI)
brought together experts in food webs, marine ecology, and management, to identify
available indicators that can be used to inform marine management.
There is a well-established need to use indicators of food webs that reflect characteristics of energy flow, resilience, structure and functioning in the management of marine
ecosystems, and the management of the components in those marine ecosystems (Shin
et al., 2010, 2012, Link 2005, Rice and Rochet 2005, Fulton 2005, etc.). Food web indicators better and more directly represent key features of marine ecosystems and living
marine resources that are often missed with less integrative measures. As such they
can provide useful information pertaining to Good Environmental Status.
Such foodweb indicators are called for by, among others, the European Commission’s
Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), an overarching plan to reach and maintain Good Environmental Status (GES) for all marine waters bordering the EU. The
MSFD characterises the status of the marine environment into 11 Descriptors. One of
these, D4, addresses specifically Elements of marine food webs. Other Descriptors, such
as D1 (Biological diversity), D3 (Population of commercial fish / shell fish), D5 (Eutrophication), D6 (Sea floor integrity), cover additional information relevant to interpreting the
status of foodweb. Building on the work of a joint JRC/ DG ENV task force (Rogers et
al. 2010), a Decision by the European Commission provided provisional guidelines for
setting targets and defining indicators for GES under D4 (2010/477/EU), understanding
that these need further development as experience with food web indicators (FooWI)
increases.
The workshop used the best available knowledge from ICES science experts to inform
and advise the Commission and EU member states on options available to implement
Descriptor 4 of the MSFD. It was recognized that an evaluation of food web indicators
also had broader potential application.
There were some general and important indicator-related principles that informed the
workshop deliberations. These have originated from observations, simulations, and
studies from a variety of other, diverse efforts that have evaluated indicators, including:
•
The need to have a suite of indicators, and not just the “one” indicator
•
The need to have clear criteria for selecting indicators
•
The need to have clear objectives for why indicators shall be developed and
used
•
The need to have clear venues for evaluating, vetting and referencing indicators
•
The need to have clear “clients” who will use the indicators and are asking for
them
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
1.2
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A brief Primer on Food Webs
Food webs are the networks formed by the trophic (feeding) interactions between species in ecological communities. The study of food webs developed from a science that
simply recorded data, through a phase of cataloguing and identifying patterns in the
data, and then moved towards interpreting data and patterns, first in terms of phenomenological models and later in terms of general ecological mechanizms and accounting of the transfer of mass and energy among biota (Bersier 2007, Rossberg 2012).
Key concepts in foodweb studies are consumer, denoting any species feeding on other
species, producer, often denoting any species which is not a consumer, resource, usually
a species being fed on by a consumer, and trophic link, a direct consumer-resource interaction. A food chain is sequence of successive consumer-resource pairs, and the
trophic level of a species is defined as 1 plus the mean length of all food chains linking
it to producers, weighted by biomass flow (Levin 1980). Among representations of food
webs in the literature are simple directed graphs (topological webs), flow diagrams
(energy budgets), representations aggregated by size or trophic level, and complex dynamic models (biodemographic webs). Depending on the representation, different
structural and dynamic properties of food webs emerge from the data. The relationships between these emergent patterns are the subjects of much ongoing research (de
Ruiter et al., 2005, Duffy et al. 2007, Thompson et al. 2012, Rossberg 2013).
Key attributes of food webs are structure, functioning and resilience and these are used
here to guide the selection of food web indicators.
1.3
Emergent properties of food webs
Emergent properties are those that can be predicted without understanding in detail
the complexities of a food web. This predictability is reflected in the existence of simplified models or representations of food webs addressing specific emergent properties
(ICES, WGECO 2012). Examples are representations of food webs as food chains passing energy and biomass from lower to higher trophic levels, representations in form of
dynamically interacting aggregated groups of species, representations as graphs with
arrows (feeding interaction) linking nodes (species), where a small number of top predators are supported by increasing numbers of species at lower trophic levels (de Ruiter
et al. 2005), or, complementarily, representation of the distribution of community biomass over body sizes (Kerr and Dickie 2001). It will be important that we take account
of these properties in forming our FooWI advice in order to develop pragmatic indicators at regional seas levels.
The link with emergent properties (i.e. the highest hierarchical levels of organization)
allows the FooWI to address cumulative impacts, integrated dynamics and responses,
detect indirect and unintended consequences, and evaluate trade-offs in the food web.
These are often examined in the context of management strategy evaluation for evaluating and mitigating pressures.
Thus, here we define a FooWI as a quantifiable metric that elucidates important features or attributes (i.e., processes and properties) of food webs.
1.4
Expectations for the workshop
There were two main expectations for this workshop. First, we wanted two primary
outcomes:
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ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
•
A Short list of Suggested FooWIs for the MSFD Descriptor 4, but germane to other, related management contexts in Europe and Globally;
and
•
A Defined Process for selecting and developing such indicators.
This approach led to a two-part set of efforts: (i).identification and evaluation of those
FooWIs that can be used, operationally, now, and (ii) identification of those FooWIs
that hold promise in the near- to medium term future but that also require further development. One important corollary was, while in the process of broader FooWI evaluation, to also evaluate the three extant MSFD D4 indicators for their continued use or
possible replacement. We also noted that the approach and indicator suite evaluated
here will have global application. Thus, while maintaining an MSFD focus, we conducted the workshop cognizant of broader uses of FooWIs.
Second, we particularly wanted the workshop to avoid esoteric and highly theoretical
debates; requests for monitoring or research to develop indicators without cognizance
of existing FooWIs; advocating for non-FooWI and/or hyper-specific indicators; overemphasizing select indicators without exploring the full suite of possible FooWIs; or
using the workshop as a primary venue for proposal development for limited subsets
of specific indicators. The emphasis was very much on pragmatic approaches to identify, use and continue to develop FooWIs.
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
2
Policy and Management Needs for Indicators
2.1
MSFD Context for FooWIs
| 9
The workshop was building on considerable work by EU Member States and Contracting Parties to Regional-Seas Conventions to develop coherent sets of FooWI for the
MSFD. Earlier JRC/ICES work reported in Rogers et al (2010) identified three criteria
of energy flows in the food web which were considered feasible to measure and apply
at a regional scale: a) ratios of production at different trophic levels, b) the productivity
(production per unit biomass) of key species or groups, and c) trophic relationships.
At a structural level, monitoring the rate of change of functionally important species to
highlight rapid in-creased or decreased abundance would also help to identify where
future management action may be required.
To support their marine strategies, Member States had submitted sets of environmental
targets and associated indicators to the EC in late 2012 (DG JRC (Palialexis et al. 2014)
and DG ENV (COM/2014/097; SWD/2014/049). A recent evaluation of the submitted
FooWI by the EU suggested that clearer guidance would allow Member States to
choose FooWI more coherently within and across regions and lead to clearer state and
pressure targets for GES for Descriptor 4, in accordance with the Commission’s observation (2010/477/EU) that additional scientific and technical support is required for D4
targets and indicators.
The EC has therefore requested ICES to develop proposals on indicators for Descriptor
4 of MSFD (DG ENV request 1d). In this framework, ICES shall work towards recommendations for potentially useful indicators (to be considered for the revision of the
Commission Decision) with a roadmap of how to get there. Needs for quantification
and assessment of foodweb processes have become clear also in other European contexts. For example, HELCOM (2013) have established a set of core indicators within the
CORESET project, and OSPAR Ecological Quality Objectives (OSPAR 2009), some of
which relate to foodweb processes. Foodweb related indicators will also be among the
products of marine surveys under the Data Collection Multi-Annual Plan (DC-MAP),
and under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reductions of discards and adjustments of stock sizes to maximize yields are expected to affect the marine environment
through foodweb processes of which management must be mindful.
2.2
Other Contexts for FooWIs
Examples of needs for FooWIs recognized by policy and management can also be
found in North America and at an international level.
Food web indicators are central in Ecosystem Based Management activities of a diversity of U.S. government agencies and non-governmental organizations, and are used
to support a number of management actions. For example, food web indicators are
central to NOAA’s Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEAs). Food web indicators are
important to IEAs because they serve as proxies for many of the ecosystem services
about which policy-makers and stakeholders are concerned. As such, food web indicators are one of the primary contact points between policy and science. A critical step
in the IEA process is to generate food web indicators that are compelling to the public
and decision-makers, but also capture the key food web states and processes that underlie critical ecosystem dynamics.
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ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
Canada’s Oceans Act received Royal Assent in 1996, signalling a new direction for
oceans management in Canada: sustainable; precautionary; ecosystem-based; integrated; and adaptable. The Oceans Act is the basis for an ecosystem approach to oceans
management. Since 1996, DFO has developed new programs for oceans management
and has been working to incorporate the principles of the Oceans Act into its traditional
management sectors. A critical part of DFOs EAM is the development of ecological,
foodweb indicators to assess the status of ecosystems. See Curran et al. 2012 for further
details.
The IndiSeas project was established with the goal to conduct comparative analyses of
ecosystem indicators to quantify the impact of fishing and to provide decision support
for global policy drivers such as the 2020 targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity and for fisheries management in a context of climate variability and change.
IndiSeas was established in 2005 as an international collaborative program under the
auspices of the EUROCEANS European Network of Excellence and endorsed by
IOC/UNESCO. Food web indicators are a critical component of this work and IndiSeas
has published a series of papers assessing the status of ecosystem in a global, comparative framework (Shin et al. 2010, 2012 and references therein; www.indiseas.org). Currently IndiSeas is conducting analyses to evaluate the performance of a range of
ecological indicators, including the MSFD large fish indicator and mean maximum
length, using a multi-modelling, multi-ecosystem comparative approach.
There are many other instances where policy is dictating that ocean resource managers
ask for scientists to provide and evaluate food web indicators. The instances above are
meant to be exemplary, are by no means exhaustive, and signify the broader, potential
applications of this work.
2.3
Key Discussion Points regarding FooWI Contexts
The explicit call for GES targets for food webs and supporting indicators by the MSFD
is the expression of an emerging recognition of the need for working with FooWI when
managing the marine environment. This trend reflects advances in science and management practices, by which the impacts of feeding interactions have moved into the
centre of attention of management, policy, and the public.
However, the science of marine food webs continues to develop. As we continue to
understand and predict the dynamics of food webs, we will need to simultaneously
glean pertinent information to inform management. The most pragmatic approach towards a management of marine food webs will therefore often be that of carefully advancing as new information is developed.
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
3
Review of Indicator Selection Criteria
3.1
Background & the WKFooWI approach
| 11
Globally a set of best-practices is coalescing around indicator selection. A plethora of
indicator selection criteria (which are distinct for indicator use criteria or for sets of
criteria) have been developed that identify key facets of indicators. Largely building
off the work of Rochet and colleagues (Rice and Rochet 2005, Rochet and Rice 2005,
Piet et al 2008) a body of core criteria have been iteratively explored and mostly converged upon in the ICES context (e.g., WGECO 2008, 2010, WGBIODIV, WGFE,
WGSAM). Other indicator efforts have also developed comparable selection criteria
(FAO 1999, INDECO, IndiSeas, Methratta and Link, 2006; Link, 2005; Fulton, 2005).
These are all based on a multicriteria decision analytic approach.
Indicator selection criteria will obviously depend on the use intended for the selected
indicators. For example, it has often been recommended that indicators used for communication should be concrete, easy to understand, and the target audiences should
be aware of the issue they are informing about. Other selection criteria might be more
appropriate to indicators used in support of decision-making. Another important point
is that indicators are generally not used in isolation – there is broad agreement that
portfolios of indicators are required to address a given management problem. Therefore in the selection of criteria it is important to consider whether these criteria apply
to individual indicators or to the suite of indicators, or both.
3.2
7 step framework (Rice and Rochet)
Criteria are just one ingredient in the process for selecting indicators. To organize the
selection process, Rice and Rochet (2005) proposed a seven-step framework to be
adapted to the specific settings and requirements of a given management problem:
1 ) Determine user needs
2 ) Develop a list of candidate indicators
3 ) Determine screening criteria
4 ) Score indicators against criteria
5 ) Summarize scoring results
6 ) Decide how many indicators you need
7 ) Final selection
The indicators discussed at WKFooWI are principally related to Descriptor 4 of the EU
MSFD and other contexts of ecosystem-based management; therefore criteria related
to practical management implementation were given specific emphasis. For management use, primary requirements are that indicators should be sensitive, have a basis in
theory and be measurable. Broadly defined management objectives such as those in
MSFD descriptor 4 need to be broken down into operational objectives for practical use
in regional seas. Since food webs differ among regional seas, operational objectives
might differ as well. The short list of evaluated, acceptable food web indicators provided does not imply that all should be developed and implemented in all regional
seas – nor that other indicators should not be developed. Rather, Member States will
need to select those appropriate to their regional seas, depending on the specific settings of the regional ecosystems and on data availability. Further, the phrasing of the
MSFD descriptor 4 (“All elements of the marine food webs […] occur at normal abundance
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ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
and diversity and levels […]”) also suggests that food web indicators may include metrics
related to the state of food web components (e.g., species or species groups), in addition
to the core attributes previously identified.
As for indicator scoring and score summaries, previous exercises have demonstrated
that a misleading sense of precision can be gained from complex scoring systems
(Rochet and Rice 2005, Piet et al. 2008). Robust outcomes would be expected from selection procedures relying on short lists of criteria – the most relevant to the management problem. However, this would only be the case if each criterion still addressed
only single discrete aspects of indicator performance. Reducing a list of criteria by combining several, possibly closely related, aspects of indicator performance within a single criterion is not helpful. Should an indicator have variable levels of performance
against these different aspects, this would present difficulties in assigning a particular
score to the criterion, and tend to introduce variability of criterion scoring between
individual expert assessors.
3.3
A methodology to assess OSPAR Common Indicators
In previous exercises, ICES have been asked to provide OSPAR with advice regarding
the selection of a small coherent set of “common indicators”, indicators to be used by
all Member States sharing particular MSFD Regions or Subregions, from all possible
indicators proposed by the individual Member States concerned.
To address this task WGECO and WGBIODIV recently developed a table of 16 criteria
against which to assess the performance of each of the potential “common indicators”.
These criteria were initially synthesized from a set of criteria presented by Kershner et
al., (2011). Additional more recent papers dealing with indicator assessment criteria
were also reviewed, but found to add no further criteria (WGBIODIV 2014). The resulting 16 criteria therefore take account of over 20 peer-reviewed publications.
WGBIODIV then developed an indicator assessment process based on these 16 criteria.
Several of the indicators proposed by Member States were in fact pressure indicators
and not state indicators, and some criteria were not applicable to pressure indicators.
Criterion 1 therefore determined whether the indicator in question was a pressure indicator, and if so it was not subjected to further assessment. Criteria 2 to 15 constituted
the actual assessment criteria and these were weighted in their importance; “core” criteria were given a weighting score of 3, “desirable” criteria a score of 2 and “informative” a score of 1. When assessing each indicator against each criterion, a “compliance”
score of 1, 0.5 or 0 was given, and guidance was provided to indicate the type and level
of compliance required to merit a particular score. An overall score for each indicator
against each criterion was obtained by multiplying the “weighting” and “compliance”
scores. Summing these overall scores across all 14 criteria (or 10 criteria for a pressure
indicator) provided a “final assessment” score for each indicator.
Criterion “weighting” scores were agreed in consensus by WGBIODIV members prior
to undertaking the assessment. WGBIODIV members then made their own “compliance” score assessments. Mean “final assessment” scores for each indicator could
therefore be determined along with the range of values obtained. Where the range in
“final assessment” scores was large, this provided an indication of higher than usual
disagreement among expert group members concerning the performance of an indicator against a particular criterion. This could then be reviewed within the group to identify the issues involved. A simulation procedure, simulating 100,000 “virtual”
indicators and assigning compliance scores at random, was used to provide an objective means of identifying indicators that might be considered to have a satisfactory
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
| 13
level of performance. Thus in WGBIODIV’s assessment, a “final assessment” benchmark score of 69% placed an indicator in the top 5% performance range.
Criterion 16 was a “tie-breaker”, intended to guide selection between high-performing
indicators, by forcing a choice between indicators that essentially fulfilled the same
role.
WGECO (2013) followed this general protocol, evaluating some common and some
novel indicators. The point being that WGECO used these best practice methods and
obtained a similar set of consensus-based results.
3.4
Criteria selection
WGBIODIV undertook their assessment using 16 analytical criteria and accordingly
the range of scores for each indicator against particular criteria tended to be narrow.
To reduce the number of criteria used to assess potential food web indicators,
WKFooWI discarded criteria in WGBIODIV’s table that we felt were less relevant to
food web indicators.
WKFooWI then cross-mapped these high-level considerations to more detailed criteria
developed by work executed by ICES WGs (WGECO 2013). We settled upon very
moderate revision to mostly extant and, increasingly within the ICES community, accepted definitions of indicator selection criteria.
The high level criteria applied incorporated the following concepts:
1 ) Availability of data. Measurability, robust quantifiable data covers range of
spatial & temporal natural variability of suitable (historic) duration and resolution, availability of historic data or other reference points for benchmarking,
2 ) Quality of underlying data. Data that are Sensitive to the magnitude and
direction of response to underlying attribute/pressure with high signal to
noise ratio, and Responsive at an appropriate time-scale. A tangible indicator
that is intuitive to understand.
3 ) Conceptual, Theoretical basis, with indicator behaviour (in response to pressure) that is understood to support management advice,
4 ) Communication, an indicator that is simple, credible, unambiguous, comprehensible and can be easily communicated
5 ) Manageable, an indicator that is relevant to management, with estimable
targets and thresholds and which are responsive, sensitive and cost-effective to
develop,
The salient points are that: there is consensus on the high level selection criteria; particular subcriteria definitions can always be argued over but were mostly agreed upon
in principle; these criteria built upon extent work from ICES and related indicator WG
efforts; and that this criteria-based selection process is coalescing into a best practice
for indicators. (Table 3.1).
14 |
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
Table 3.1. Criteria used to evaluate food web indicators, based on those developed by WGBIO, and
modified by WGECO.
C RITERIA
I SSUES
R ATIONALE
Availability of
underlying data
(Measurable)
Existing and ongoing
data
Indicators must be supported by current or planned
monitoring programmes that provide the data
necessary to derive the indicator. Ideal monitoring
programmes should have a time-series capable of
supporting baselines and reference point setting. Data
should be collected on multiple sequential occasions
using consistent protocols.
Relevant spatial
coverage
Data should be derived from an appropriate
proportion of the regional sea, at appropriate spatial
resolution and sampling design, to which the
indicator will apply.
Relevant temporal
coverage
Data should be collected at appropriate sampling
frequency and for an appropriate extent of time relevant to the time-scale of the process or attribute
the indicator describes.
Indicators should be
technically rigorous
(tangible)
Indicators should ideally be easily and accurately
determined using technically feasible and quality
assured methods.
Reflects changes in
ecosystem
component that are
caused by variation
in any specified
manageable
pressures
The indicator reflects change in the state of an
ecological component that is caused by specific
significant manageable pressures (e.g. fishing
mortality, habitat destruction). The indicator should
therefore respond sensitively to particular changes in
pressure. The response should based on theoretical or
empirical knowledge, thus reflecting the effect of
change in pressure on the ecosystem component in
question; signal to noise ratio should be high. Ideally
the pressure-state relationship should be defined
under both the disturbance and recovery phases.
Magnitude, direction
and variance of
indicator estimable
The indicator should exhibit a predictable direction,
exhibit clear sense of magnitude of any change, and
estimates of precision should allow for detection of
trends or distinct locales - requiring that some
measure of sampling error or variance estimator is
available.
Scientific credibility
Scientific, peer-reviewed findings should underpin
the assertion that the indicator provides a true
representation of process, and variation thereof, for
the ecosystem attribute being examined.
Associated with Key
processes
The link between the indicator and a process that is
essential to food web functioning should be clear and
established, based on our current understanding of
trophic dynamics.
UnAmbiguous
The indicator responds unambiguously to a pressure.
Comprehensible
Indicators should be interpretable in a way that is
easily understandable by policy-makers and other
non-scientists (e.g. stakeholders) alike, and the
consequences of variation in the indicator should be
easy to communicate.
Quality of
underlying data
(Sensitivity)
(Responsive)
Conceptual
(Theoretical
Basis)
Communication
(Concrete)
(PubleAware)
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
C RITERIA
I SSUES
R ATIONALE
Management
(Measureable)
(Sensitivity)
(Responsive)
Relevant to
management
Indicator links directly to mandated management
needs, and idealy to management response. The
relationship between human activity and resulting
pressure on the ecological component is clearly
understood.
[MSFD]
management
thresholds (targets)
estimable
Clear targets that meet appropriate target criteria
(absolute values or trend directions) for the indicator
can be specified that reflect management objectives,
such as achieving GES. Ideally control rules can be
developed.
Cost-effectiveness
Sampling, measuring, processing, analysing indicator
data, and reporting assessment outcomes should
make effective use of limited financial resources.
Indicator correlation
& ambiguity (Size,
Production, Canary,
Aggregate, Energy
Flow) [Aggregate =
Guild, Functional
Group, Structural
partly, etc.; Network
= Resilience,
Structural partly,
Functional partly
etc.; Energy Flow =
Functional partly]
Different indicators making up a suite of indicators
should each reflect variation in different attributes of
the ecosystem component and thus be
complementary. Correlation between indicators
should be ideally be avoided, and multiple aspects of
the food web should be examined.
Useful for other
MSFD Descriptors
The indicator obviously relates to foodwebs, but may
be useful to adress issues linked to or be informed by
other MSFD descriptors too.
Functional Group
coverage (PP, ZP,
Benthos, Forage Fish,
Fish, Charismatic
Megafauna)
Functional Group coverage (PhytoPlankton,
ZooPlankton, Benthos, Cephalopods, Forage Fish,
Fish, Birds, Mammals, Reptiles). Integrated is for
indicators that cover processes or attributes across the
whole food web.
FW Attributes
Coverage
Attributes include: structure (that is, related to the
components of the food web and the distribution of
matter among them); functioning (that is, related to
the flows through and/or between these components);
and resilience (that is, properties that contribute to the
ability of the ecosystem to recover after a significant
perturbation).
Indicator suites
(Redundancy)-post criteria
evaluation
3.5
| 15
Further considerations relevant to the selection of a portfolio of food web indicators
In addition to the specific criteria for each FooWI, we also noted a broader set of features to consider when evaluating the full suite of FooWIs (Table 3.1). These are variously termed attributes, categories, indicator suite criteria, or similar phraseology
depending upon the context. The point of our using these was to establish them so that
key Food Web attributes were not omitted by any unintended potential biases by expertise and participation at the workshop.
These additional considerations include:
•
Relation to other MSFD Descriptors
16 |
3.6
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
•
The primary food web attribute (structural, functional, resilience);
•
Indicator class (energy flow, network, canary, diversity, size, aggregate);
•
Food Web Functional group:
•
PhytoPlankton
•
ZooPlankton
•
Benthos
•
Cephalopods
•
Fish
•
Birds
•
Mammals
•
Reptiles
•
Integrated (that cover processes or attributes across the whole food web.)
Key Discussion Points regarding Indicator Selection Protocols & Criteria
•
WKFooWI built on prior ICES work related to indicators, and particularly
FooWIs selection criteria
•
WKFooWI used internationally recognized best practices to identify and utilize indicator selection criteria
•
Ensuring the selection criteria follow generally accepted protocols and delineations is useful, but any given exercise or context warrants the need for
necessary modifications as is appropriate. Fortunately, those were relatively minor in this instance.
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
4
Indicator Responses and Thresholds
4.1
The need for Indicator Responses and Thresholds
| 17
There is a clear need to establish indicator responses and thresholds. A general overview of different processes for examining thresholds in indicators, and their potential
use for informing ecosystem-based management reference points was presented. First
introduced was a quantitative, transferable method for identifying utility thresholds.
A utility threshold is the level of human-induced pressure at which small changes produce substantial improvements toward the EBM goal of protecting an ecosystem's
structural and functional attributes. The analytical approach is based on the detection
of nonlinearities in relationships between ecosystem attributes and pressures, and the
method was illustrated with a case study of (1) fishing and (2) nearshore habitat pressure for British Columbia, Canada. Secondly, a structured approach for choosing
among three classes of reference points was noted, including: (1) functional relationships that establish the ocean state that can be produced and sustained under different
environmental conditions, (2) time-series approaches that compare current to previous
capacities to obtain a particular ocean state in a specific location, and (3) spatial reference points that compare current capacities to achieve a desired ocean state across regional (or, if necessary, global) scales.
Finally, Levin provided an overview of a method in which indicator-pressure relationships were examined and used to inform target setting in Puget Sound. In this case, all
indicators where examined as a portfolio, and targets for individual indicators were
developed through stakeholder process that focused on stakeholder’s desire for specific ecosystem states.
These examples demonstrated not only the need for thresholds, but also how they have
been obtained elsewhere.
4.2
Methods and Examples for Estimating Indicator Responses and
Thresholds
Establishing decision criteria that trigger management actions for EBFM requires an
understanding of how pressure variables influence indicators, as well as the level of a
particular pressure at which significant changes in ecosystem structure or function appear (Martin et al., 2009; Samhouri et al., 2010). Samhouri et al. (2010) used simulation
models that examine ecosystem response to fishing pressure and nearshore habitat exploitation. In both scenarios, increased pressure resulted in a shift towards negative
ecosystem status and decision criteria were suggested for management action. Similarly, empirical approaches (Link et al., 2002; Coll et al., 2010; Link et al., 2010; Blanchard
et al., 2010) have also been used to examine pressure – response relationships and determine indicator levels where pressure variables result in ecosystem change. However, these studies only provide general levels where pressure variables result in
ecosystem change.
Using indicators to inform management to the point of delineating control rules or decision points requires an understanding of potential ecological thresholds, which occur
when a small change in a pressure results in a large response in ecosystem state or
function (Groffman et al. 2006, Martin et al. 2009). Mathematically, univariate thresholds occur when the second derivative of a function crosses zero, denoting a change in
the function (e.g., from concave-up to concave-down) and can be calculated from
18 |
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
known functional forms such as piecewise regression models (Chaudhuri and Marron
1999, Toms and Lesperance 2003, Sonderegger et al. 2008, Samhouri et al. 2010), or estimated from generalized additive models using finite differences (Fewster et al. 2000,
Large et al. 2013). Ecological thresholds have been theoretically and empirically evaluated in response to fishing and environmental pressure (Link 2005, Samhouri et al.,
2010, Fay et al., 2013, Large et al., 2013). These univariate relationships are useful for
establishing decision criteria (Fay et al. 2013, Large et al. 2013), however, they do not
fully account for multiple pressures that likely interact and occur concurrently.
Univariate thresholds have been extended into bivariate space by translating indicator
response into a surface dependent on multiple pressures (i.e., fishing and environmental pressure; Frederickson et al., 2004; Scott et al., 2006; Large et al., In Review). Critical
points, or bivariate thresholds, occur when the slope (i.e., partial first derivative) of
both pressure variables is equal to zero, and with the second partial derivative test,
local maximum, local minimum, and saddle points can be identified. Therefore, critical
points in bivariate response-pressure relationships describe regions where both pressures result in a large response (i.e., change in magnitude or direction) in ecosystem
state or function. Therefore, we identify levels of multiple pressure variables (i.e., fishing and environmental pressure) that result in a significant response of indicator value.
Understanding how multiple pressure variables concurrently influence ecosystem status provides much more salient management advice.
4.3
Resilience and Indicators
Resilience is a key aspect of ecosystem behaviour and environmental status. A resilient
system reacts only weakly to pressure, until resilience is overcome and the system then
changes rapidly to a different state or regime. Such transition is thus the result of an
accumulation of the disturbing effects of pressure. Additionally, ecosystems may exhibit legacy effects of earlier pressures. Whereas an indicator (I1) that points to a disturbed component may show an immediate response to a change in pressure, a more
holistic indicator (I2) of ecosystem structure or functioning may lag the pressure
change and show a significant response only as the system changes. Ideally, ecological
understanding will allow present changes in I1 to predict future changes in I2, but this
is not currently possible in all cases. Indicators of type I2 are needed for evaluation of
GES, whereas those of type I1 are more directly useful for guiding management action.
So while it was recognized that structure and functioning of food webs were the major
attributes for which indicators were required, the resilience of food webs was a component which in this exercise was treated as an additional attribute.
4.4
Key Discussion Points regarding Indicator Responses and Thresholds
•
Thresholds are needed for indicators if they are to directly inform management decisions
•
There are many extant methods to determining thresholds of FooWIs
•
These are not commonly practiced, but represent a key need for future indicator development
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
5
Indicators presented to WKFOOWI
5.1
Presentation of food web indicators
| 19
Members of the workshop were asked to prepare short presentations of indicators of
the structure and functioning of food webs: over 60 candidate indicators were described. Each presenter was asked to address a common set of questions for each indicator to enable subsequent evaluation. Presentations covered all marine functional
groups and all attributes of food webs that were considered necessary for a comprehensive evaluation. Sufficient information was provided to allow the indicators presented to be scored against a set of criteria, and later prioritized to support the
development of a Roadmap.
On further review of the indicators presented, it was evident that several were duplicates and some were inappropriate. A list of 40 candidate FooWIs is given in Table 5.1,
grouped into the three main food web attributes, Functional Indicators linked to Energy Flow, Functional Indicators linked to Ecosystem Resilience and Structural Indicators linked to diversity and ‘canary’ species.
20 |
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
Table 5.1a Assessment of selected food web indicators, grouped by attribute, against the criteria listed in Table 3.1. ranking applied was 0 = no, 1 = somewhat, 2 =
very much, as following the protocol devised by WGBIODIV. Table comprises of four panels with the indicators divided into 2 groups, with scorings provided in
first two panels and the synthesis given in the second two panels.
Scoring of candidate indicators (first grouping)
Selection Criteria
Avalability of underlying data
(Measurable)
Existing
Relevant Relevant
and
spatial temporal
ongoing
coverage coverage
data
Name of candidate indicator
Seabird breeding success
Productivity (production per unit biomass) of key predators.
Mean weight at age of predatory fish species from data
Total Mortality (Production:Biomass ratio)
Primary production required to support fisheries
Productive pelagic habitat index (chlorophyll fronts)
Ecosystem Exploitation (fisheries)
Community Condition
Mean trophic level of catch
Marine Trophic Index of the community (MTI)
mean trophic level of the community
Disturbance index
Loss in secondary production index (L index)
Cumulative distribution of biomass assessment
Trophic Balance Index (fishing pattern)
Mean transfer efficiency for a given TL or size.
Finn Cycling Index
2
2
2
2
1
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
1
1
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
1
1
2
2
1
1
1
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
Quality of underlying data (Sensitive)
(Responsive)
Conceptual (Theoretical Basis)
Indicators
should be
technically
rigorous
(tangible)
Reflects
changes in
ecosystem
component
that are caused
by variation in
any specified
manageable
pressures
Magnitude,
direction
and
variance of
indicator
estimable
Scientific
credibility
1
1
2
2
1
2
1
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
0
0
1
1
1
2
1
1
2
1
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
1
1
1
0
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
0
1
0
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
Associated
with Key UnAmbiguous
processes
2
2
2
2
2
2
0
1
0
2
2
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
1
1
1
2
1
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Communication
(Concrete) (Public
Aware)
Comprehensible
2
1
2
1
0
1
1
2
1
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
Management (Measureable) (Sensitive)
(Responsive)
manageme
Relevant to
nt
management thresholds
(targets)
estimable
1
1
1
2
2
1
2
1
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
0
0
2
1
2
2
1
0
2
1
1
1
1
0
1
1
2
0
0
Costeffectivene
2
2
2
1
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
| 21
Table 5.1b Assessment of selected food web indicators, grouped by attribute, against the criteria listed in Table 3.1. ranking applied was 0 = no, 1 = somewhat, 2 =
very much, as following the protocol devised by WGBIODIV. Table comprises of four panels with the indicators divided into 2 groups, with scorings provided in
first two panels and the synthesis given in the second two panels.
Scoring of candidate indicators (second grouping)
Avalability of underlying data
(Measurable)
Quality of underlying data (Sensitive)
(Responsive)
Reflects
changes in
Magnitude,
ecosystem
component direction and
that are caused variance of
by variation in
indicator
any specified
estimable
manageable
pressures
Existing
and
ongoing
data
Relevant
spatial
coverage
Relevant
temporal
coverage
Indicators
should be
technically
rigorous
(tangible)
Mean trophic links per species
Ecological Network Analysis derived indicators (overall mean transfer E
Gini-Simpson dietary diversity index
Herbivory : detritivory ratio
Ecological network indices of ecosystem status and change (Ulanowicz)
System Omnivory Index
1
2
1
1
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
0
2
0
0
0
0
1
0
1
1
1
Guild surplus production models
Total biomass of small fish
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
1
2
2
1
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
2
1
2
2
1
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
2
1
2
2
1
2
1
2
1
1
2
2
1
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
0
1
1
1
1
0
0
2
2
1
1
Name of candidate indicator
Proportion of Predatory Fish
Pelagic to demersal ratio
Biomass of trophic guilds
Lifeform-based indicator for the pelagic habitat
Region-specific indicators of abundance & spatial distribution
fish biomass/benthos biomass from models
Zooplankton spatial distribution and total biomass
Scavenger biomass
Geometric mean abundance of seabirds
Gini-Simpson diversity index (species dominance) of large & small fish
Species Richness Index
Large Fish Indicator LFI)
Mean length of surveyed community
Size spectra slope
Zooplankton Mean Size - Total community biomass index
Conceptual (Theoretical Basis)
Communication
(Concrete) (Public
Aware)
Management (Measureable) (Sensitive)
(Responsive)
Scientific
credibility
Associated
with Key
processes
UnAmbiguous
Comprehensible
Relevant to
management
management
thresholds
(targets)
estimable
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
2
2
1
2
1
2
2
2
2
2
1
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
1
1
1
0
0
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
1
1
1
2
2
1
2
1
2
2
1
1
2
1
1
1
2
2
1
1
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
1
1
2
2
1
1
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
2
2
1
1
2
2
2
2
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
0
1
1
0
0
1
0
0
0
1
2
2
2
2
1
1
2
2
1
1
0
2
2
2
1
2
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
1
2
1
1
1
2
1
1
1
2
2
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
1
1
0
2
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
1
2
1
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
1
Costeffectiveness
22 |
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
Table 5.1c Synthesis of scoring of selected food web indicators, grouped by attribute. (first grouping)
Indicator suites (Redundancy)--post criteria evaluation
Useful for
Indicator correlation with other MSFD
Descriptors
attribute
(Note which
Current Functional Group
Food Web Attributes
max
score 13
x2
Future Functional Group
Descriptor)
Name of candidate indicator
Seabird breeding success
Productivity (production per unit biomass) of key predators.
Mean weight at age of predatory fish species from data
Total Mortality (Production:Biomass ratio)
Primary production required to support fisheries
Productive pelagic habitat index (chlorophyll fronts)
Ecosystem Exploitation (fisheries)
Community Condition
Mean trophic level of catch
Marine Trophic Index of the community (MTI)
mean trophic level of the community
Disturbance index
Loss in secondary production index (L index)
Cumulative distribution of biomass assessment
Trophic Balance Index (fishing pattern)
Mean transfer efficiency for a given TL or size.
Finn Cycling Index
Energy Flow; Canary
Energy Flow; Canary
Energy Flow; Aggregate
Energy Flow
Production
Production
Energy Flow
Energy Flow; Aggregate
Energy Flow; Aggregate
Energy Flow; Aggregate
Energy Flow; Aggregate
Energy Flow
Energy Flow
Energy Flow
Energy Flow
Energy Flow
Network; Energy Flow
D1
D3
D3
D3, D1
D5, D3, D1
D3
D3
D3
D3
D3
D3
bird
mammals, birds, reptiles, fish
fish
fish, ceph, benthos, mammal, bird, reptile
Integrated, fish, benthos, ceph
PP, fish, mammals
fish, ceph, benthos, mammal, bird, reptile
fish
fish, benthos, ceph
fish, Integrated
Integrated
fish, ceph, benthos, mammal, bird, reptile
fish, Integrated
Integrated
fish, ceph, benthos, mammal, bird, reptile, Forage
Integrated
Integrated
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
Functioning
22
18
21
19
18
18
16
16
15
15
15
14
14
14
13
10
9
26
85%
69%
81%
73%
69%
69%
62%
62%
58%
58%
58%
54%
54%
54%
50%
38%
35%
bird
mammals, birds, reptiles, fish
fish
fish, ceph, benthos, mammal, bird, reptile, Forage
Integrated, fish, benthos, ceph, mammals
PP, fish, mammals, LTL, birds
fish, ceph, benthos, mammal, bird, reptile, Forage
fish, benthos
fish, benthos, ceph
Integrated
Integrated
fish, ceph, benthos, mammal, bird, reptile, Forage
Integrated
Integrated
fish, ceph, benthos, mammal, bird, reptile, Forage
Integrated
Integrated
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
| 23
Table 5.1d Synthesis of scoring of selected food web indicators, grouped by attribute. (second grouping)
Indicator suites (Redundancy)--post criteria evaluation
Indicator correlation with
attribute
Name of candidate indicator
Useful for
other MSFD
Descriptors
(Note which
Descriptor)
Current Functional Group
Food Web Attributes
max score
13 x 2
Future Functional Group
26
Mean trophic links per species
Network
Ecological Network Analysis derived indicators (overall mean traNetwork; Energy Flow
Gini-Simpson dietary diversity index
Network
Herbivory : detritivory ratio
Network; Energy Flow
Ecological network indices of ecosystem status and change (Ula Network; Energy Flow
System Omnivory Index
Network; Energy Flow
D1
fish
Integrated
fish,
Integrated
Integrated
Integrated
Resilience
Resilience ; Functioning
Functioning; Resilience
Functioning; Resilience
Resilience ; Functioning
Functioning; Resilience
12
12
11
10
10
7
46%
46%
42%
38%
38%
27%
fish, integrated
Integrated
fish, ZP, Benthos, Forage, Charismatic
Integrated
Integrated
Integrated
Guild surplus production models
Total biomass of small fish
D3
D3
D1, D3
D3, D5
D3, D1
D5, D6 , D1
D1, D3
D6, D3, D1
D1, D5
D6, D1
D1
D1
D1
D3, D3
D3, D1
D3, D1, D6
D1, D5
fish, benthos
fish
fish
fish
fish
PP
fish
fish, Benthos
ZP
Benthos, fish
birds
fish
Integrated
fish
fish
fish, intergrated
ZP
Structure
Structure
Structure
Structure
Structure
Structure; Functioning
Structure
Structure
Structure
Structure
Structure
Structure
Structure
Structure
Structure
Structure
Structure
25
23
22
21
20
20
19
17
17
19
19
14
14
25
22
19
17
96%
88%
85%
81%
77%
77%
73%
65%
65%
73%
73%
54%
54%
96%
85%
73%
65%
fish, ZP, Benthos, Forage, Charismatic
fish
fish
fish
fish, all
pelagic habitat (LTL)
fish, all
fish, Benthos
pelagic habitats
Benthos, fish
birds, all verts or UTL
Integrated and subsets
Integrated
fish
UTL, LTL, Benthos
Integrated and subsets
ZP
Production; Aggregate
Aggregate
Proportion of Predatory Fish
Aggregate
Pelagic to demersal ratio
Aggregate
Biomass of trophic guilds
Aggregate
Lifeform-based indicator for the pelagic habitat
Aggregate
Region-specific indicators of abundance & spatial distribution Aggregate
fish biomass/benthos biomass from models
Aggregate
Zooplankton spatial distribution and total biomass
Aggregate
Scavenger biomass
Canary
Geometric mean abundance of seabirds
Canary
Gini-Simpson diversity index (species dominance) of large & smDiversity
Species Richness Index
Diversity
Large Fish Indicator LFI)
Size
Mean length of surveyed community
Size
Size spectra slope
Size
Zooplankton Mean Size - Total community biomass index
Size; Aggregate
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Functional Indicators linked to Energy Flow
5.2.1
Seabird breeding success
Many species of seabirds feed on lower trophic level forage species such as krill, squid,
and pelagic fish. Seabirds summarize changes in these forage species communities that
are often linked to patterns of exploitation (Cury and Christensen, 2005, Cury et al.,
2011). Seabird breeding success has been consistently monitored across many ecosystems and provides robust estimates of both forage fish abundance and success of charismatic species (Cury et al. 2011, Wooler et al., 1992). Seabird breeding success can be a
useful indicator, however, it may overlap with other measures of forage fish success.
5.2.2
Productivity (production per unit biomass) of key predators
Metrics characterizing productivity of predators at high trophic levels have been identified by Rogers et al., (2010) as an important class of foodweb indicators. They argued
that “[t]he abundance of species in the food web will generally be determined by the
abundance of suitable prey taxa on which they can feed. Some species, or groups of
species, may play a significant part in food web dynamics and so their population status will effectively summarize the main predator-prey processes in the part of the food
web that they inhabit.” Food quantity or quality is known to affect survival and reproduction of many marine species including birds (Wanless et al.; 2005), mammals (Soto
et al., 2006) and fish (Litzow et al., 2006). It has been argued (Boyd et al 2006, Rogers et
al., 2010, Cury et al., 2011) that required prey abundance to quantitatively and qualitatively sustain viable populations of predators constitutes a threshold value which can
serve as a reference point for productivity based indicators. “Productivity (production
per unit biomass) of key species or trophic groups” was listed among the Criteria for
GES by the EC (EU, 2010). Among others, it has been implemented in form of the HELCOM (2013) core indicators “Pregnancy rates of marine mammals”, “White-tailed eagle productivity”, “Abundance of sea trout spawners and parr”, and “Abundance of
salmon spawners and smolt”.
5.2.3
Mean weight at age of predatory fish species from data
Fish weight and condition metrics provide information on state (e.g., food limitation)
in an ecosystem. The indicator proposed by Shephard et al., (2014) describes the average “weight anomaly” for the pelagic fish community in a given year, which is the
deviation around an observed long-term mean. The youngest and oldest age-groups
of each stock are excluded to avoid sampling bias (see Table 1 for selected age ranges).
Values are then averaged over all ages for each stock to obtain a mean annual anomaly
for that stock. Stock anomalies are then averaged by year to obtain a regional mean
weight anomaly for the whole pelagic or predatory fish communities, respectively,
where indicator values should fluctuate around zero in the long term. The comparison
between species and stocks can give additional information on whether food becomes
limiting in general or whether just some species or trophic guilds are impacted.
Changes in this indicator can be caused by changes in food availability as well as an
increase or decrease in predator populations. The demand for food can be also influenced by temperature. Therefore, the indicator should be only interpreted in conjunction with additional information (e.g. biomass of forage fish, benthos, sea temperature,
predator abundance, etc.). The indicator will respond predominantly to non-anthropogenic impacts, and to a lesser degree to indirect anthropogenic impacts through food
limitation.
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5.2.4
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Total Mortality (Production:Biomass ratio)
Total mortality has a large effect on both year-to-year survival, long-term reference
points such as FMSY and resilience. If mean weight of a species in the stock and catch
remain constant over time, this indicator is conceptually equivalent to production/biomass. Further, the inverse of total mortality is a direct indicator of longevity, an indicator which is often more readily communicated outside the scientific community. It
responds to management through direct fishing mortality and the abundance of predatory fish (WGSAM; ICES 2012, 2013).
5.2.5
Primary Production Required to support fisheries
Solar radiation is fixed by phytoplankton and provides energy for marine ecosystems.
Subsequently, energy is transferred through food webs by predation and lost through
metabolic processes. Ecosystem production results from the conversion of organic matter at each trophic level and depends on ecological features such as the number of feeding links, the efficiency of energy transfer from one trophic level to the next, and
temperature (Chassot et al., 2010). Production available to fisheries depends upon fishing mortality and targeted trophic levels in the food web. Fisheries focusing only on
lower trophic levels may be energetically more efficient than those focused on top
predators (Pauly & Christensen 1995; Gascuel & Pauly 2009).
Primary Production Required (PPR) is the primary production and detritus flows from
TL 1 that are required to sustain fisheries (expressed as t/km²/year). This allows the
evaluation and comparison of fishing activities across ecosystems. The PPR is obtained
by calculating the flows backwards, expressed in primary production and detritus
equivalents, for all pathways from the caught species down to the primary producers
and detritus. The PPR increases with fishing intensity. PPR has been analysed also in
reference to PP, to reflect a percentage of PP used to sustain catches.
5.2.6
Productive pelagic habitat index (chlorophyll fronts)
Productive fronts (chlorophyll-a fronts) are key features in marine ecosystems since
they last long enough to sustain zooplankton production and are considered one of the
main vectors of ocean’s productivity along the food chain (Le Fèvre 1986, Olson et al.,
1994, Kirby et al., 2000, Polovina et al., 2001, Belkin et al., 2009, Druon et al., 2011, 2012).
Pelagic habitats can be considered to indicate the general ecosystem productivity or
related to a specific species.
The frequency of chlorophyll-a fronts within an intermediate range of chlorophyll-a
content identifies the productive features that attract top-predators, i.e. areas of efficient energy transfer between trophic levels outside of low and high chlorophyll levels
(from about 0.1 to 3.0 mg.m-3). Indeed, high chlorophyll levels potentially correspond
to potentially eutrophic areas where the food chain is disrupted and primary production is not available to upper trophic levels. Eutrophication and hydrological and atmospheric forcing are captured by this indicator, but it provides in particular the
variability of ecosystem productivity available to high tropic levels independently of
fishing pressure.
The indicator of pelagic productivity results from the demonstrated links between toppredators and chlorophyll-a fronts such as for fast-moving predators (Atlantic bluefin
tuna, Druon 2010, Druon et al., 2011, and fin whale, Druon et al., 2012) and demersal
nurseries (hake, Druon et al., in prep.) in the Mediterranean Sea. The generic index of
productive pelagic habitats yet requires a formal validation at European scale
(https://fishreg.jrc.ec.europa.eu/fish-habitat).
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5.2.7
Ecosystem exploitation (fisheries)
This estimates the level of exploitation, integrated over all trophic levels, as the total
yield divided by total production for all exploited species. Required data: Yield, biomass and production to biomass ratio for each species in the yield.
5.2.8
Community Condition
Community condition is a measure of the overall condition (average weight at length)
at the functional group level, and the overall community condition. Condition reflects
food availability: fish are heavier per unit length when food abundance is plentiful
and/or competition for food is low, and lighter when food abundance is low and/competition for food is high. It is a reflection of energy flow, food availability and resilience.
Area and functional group specific mean community condition “K” was calculated as
the abundance (a) weighted K from all individual species (i) within the functional
group with length (l) and weight (w) data.
5.2.9
Mean trophic level of the catch
Mean trophic level of the catch is one of a suite of trophic level indicators that is based
on the average biomass weighted trophic level across all species. Initial work considered the mean trophic level of the catch, based on fishery-dependent catch or landing
statistics (Pauly et al., 1998). It describes the average trophic level at which species are
removed by the fisheries. As more valuable upper-trophic level fish stocks are depleted, fishers may target lower-value, lower- trophic level fish stocks (Pauly et al 1998).
Recent work suggests that this indicator is a better indicator of fishing pattern and
pressure than an indicator of ecosystem state (Shannon et al., MEPS, in press).
5.2.10 Marine trophic index of the community (MTI)
The marine trophic index (MTI) (Pauly and Watson 2005) is another trophic level indicator, calculated with a cut-off point of trophic level greater than 3.25. Originally calculated from fisheries landings data, here it is presented as the MTI of the community,
based on scientific survey data, and is considered an indicator of food web functioning
(Shannon et al in press). It has most commonly been applied to fish (and cephalopods),
but could be extended to a wider range of taxa. The marine trophic index of the community, like the mean trophic level of the community (see below), provides a measure
of ecosystem integrity and resilience. Declining trophic levels may result in shorter
food chains, which may leave ecosystems less able to cope with natural or human-induced change.
5.2.11 Mean trophic level of the community
Average trophic level (TL) obtained from fishery-independent surveys is a commonly
used metric that can be used to measure status and trends of ecosystem structure and
functioning (Shin et al., 2010). Average TL of the community is expected to decrease in
response to fishing, as fisheries tend to target species at upper trophic levels (Pauly et
al., 1998). Additionally, fishing can also change the structure of marine food webs by
reducing the mean TL and might also influence ecosystem functioning by shortening
the length of food chains and releasing predation on lower trophic level organisms
(Shin et al., 2010).
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5.2.12 Disturbance index
The disturbance index (DI) measures the change in trophic (or size) structure of the
ecosystem and is calculated as the sum, across all TLs ≥2 (or size classes), of the absolute
difference in the relative biomass (B TL /B Total ) within each TL for each year, relative to a
reference period (Bundy et al., 2005). The reference period can represent a preferred
state of the ecosystem, an ideal state, a theoretical state estimated from an ecosystem
model or the beginning to the time period for which there is data. The DI has been
shown to respond directly to fishing pressure, but may also be affected by other pressures such as environmental change.
The DI was originally proposed as one of 4 indicators comprising a 4D ecosystem exploitation index (Bundy et al., 2005).
5.2.13 Loss in secondary production index (L index)
The decrease in secondary production was proposed as a proxy for quantifying ecosystem effects of fishing on the basis of a theoretical development and application to a
large set of data (Libralato et al., 2008). L index is calculated by integrating the primary
production required to sustain the catches (PPR; Pauly and Christensen, 1995) relative
to the primary production (PP) in the ecosystem, the transfer efficiencies (TE, i.e., the
efficiency in the transfer of energy from a trophic level to another; Lindeman, 1942)
and the trophic level of the catches (TLc; Pauly et al., 1998). Theoretically, these inputs
can be combined to measure the loss in secondary production due to fishing (L index)
and to evaluate ecosystem effects of all fished species (Libralato et al., 2008).
The application of the L index to a set of well-studied models allowed a probability of
being sustainably fished (Psust) to be associated with each L index value, and, by fixing
desired sustainability levels (e.g., 75% and 95%) it provide the basis for back-estimating
the associated Ecosystem-based Maximum Sustainable Catches (EMSC) (Libralato et
al., 2008).
Thus L index is formally defined as an index of ecosystem overfishing and allows application of the index using both landings data and ecosystem models. L index can give
rough estimates of overfishing status and management advice measures allowing definition of a region of viable solutions (sensu Cury et al., 2005). L index quantification
can be adapted to specific spatial scales (regional spatial assessment) and to large pelagic areas exploiting data from satellite for estimating PP, catches and available data
on diets (for TL estimates).
5.2.14 Cumulative distribution of biomass assessment
Accumulation of biomass has been documented for many marine food webs, with the
intermediate TLs exhibiting the largest increase in the system cumulative biomass
(Gascuel et al., 2005, Link et al., 2009). Changes in this accumulation may reflect shifts
in the ecosystem structure and function. According to these observations, from a theoretical point of view, a perturbed ecosystem should lower the stored, cumulative biomass and “stretch out” across TLs. To describe and quantify these curve shape
modifications, the biomass distribution across TLs is fitted to a logistic non-linear regression model in order to estimate the main curve parameters: steepness (that is the
slope of the tangent passing through the inflection point), inflection TL (that is the projection of the inflection point on the x-axis), inflection CumB (that is the projection of
the inflection point on the y-axis), and the basal biomass (that is the y-axis intercept of
the fitted curve). Applications, carried out by using both surveys and landings data,
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showed that the method is robust to possible 'sampling errors' (in terms of TL assignment), sensitive to both environmental and anthropogenic drivers, and when applied
to fishery dependent data, responsive (Pranovi et al., 2012; 2014).
5.2.15 Trophic balance index (Fishing pattern)
This index measures the evenness (pattern) of exploitation across TLs by comparing
their exploitation rates, which are estimated as the sum of yield (Y) divided by the sum
of production (P) at each TL. The evenness of exploitation is then given by the coefficient of variation of all Y/P. Required data: Yield, biomass and P/B for each species in
the yield.
5.2.16 Mean transfer efficiency for a given TL or size
The transfer Efficiency (TE TL ) is defined as the fraction of production that is passed
from one integer trophic level to the next (Lindeman, 1942; Pauly and Christensen,
1995). It is thus quantifiable as the ratio between the production of the trophic level
(TL) and the production at the precedent trophic level (TL-1). Several studies have estimated the pattern of TE by different trophic level after Lindeman's work (Lindeman
1942; Burns, 1989; Strayer, 1991). It has been used as a diagnostic indicator in some
cases (e.g., Libralato et al., 2004) but in most instances it has been used as a mean ecosystem average (the overall mean transfer efficiency).
5.2.17 Finn Cycling Index
The Finn’s cycling index (FCI, Finn 1976) is the proportion of the total sum of flows in
the food web that is recycled in the system. It is measured as the proportion of the total
flow that is flowing within circular pathways. Recycling is considered to be an indicator of an ecosystem’s ability to maintain its structure and integrity through positive
feedback and is used as an indicator of stress and maturity (Ulanowicz, 1986; Christensen 1995; Monaco and Ulanowicz 1997; Vasconcellos et al.,\ 1997). FCI is an indicator
of the recovery time of an ecosystem through development of routes to conserve nutrients. A high FCI would mean the system would recover faster from a perturbation,
whereas a system would be expected to take longer to recover (lower FCI) when it is
in a more degraded state.
5.3
Functional Indicators linked to ecosystem resilience
5.3.1
Mean trophic links per species
The mean trophic links per species reflects how connected a food web is and, potentially, how stable a food web may be (Link 2002, Link 2005, Methratta and Link 2006).
Changes to this indicator reflect notable differences in the structure and dynamics of a
food web. As an understanding of temporal and spatial characteristics of marine
trophic interactions it may not be entirely complete. This index should be used only as
a tool to invoke further precautionary action (Link 2005).
5.3.2
Ecological Network Analysis derived indicators (overall mean Transfer
Efficiency)
The mean transfer efficiency (TE m ) for the food web is calculated as the geometric mean
of transfer efficiencies for each of the integer trophic levels II to IV from models (Christensen et al., 2008). There have been attempts to estimate average TE also on the basis
of catches over trophic levels on the assumption that fisheries were in balance for some
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periods (Pauly and Palomares, 2005) – which would provide a fishing pressure indicator. Average transfer efficiency by ecosystem type based on model outputs have shown
some variability across ecosystem types (Libralato et al., 2008) and other pressure factors as it has been shown in Heymans et al., (2012). It has been proposed as a descriptor
of ecosystem health in lakes (Xu & Mage 2001, Hecky 2006).
5.3.3
Gini-Simpson dietary diversity index
The Gini-Simpson dietary diversity index is defined as the average, over a representative sample of consumer species, of the Gini-Simpson diversity of the contributions of
resource species to consumer diets, by volume or biomass (Rossberg et al 2011, ICES,
[WGSAM] 2012, Rossberg 2013). It can be determined from stomach-content data. The
metric attains values between 0 and 1, with 0 implying no diversity and 1 high diverse.
The indicator may be applied to any component of the ecosystem for which diet data
are available, but has so far been computed only for fish (Rossberg et al 2011). A target
for the metric near 0.5 has been proposed (Rossberg et al 2011, Rossberg 2013), based
on theory and observation data. The indicator may respond to pressures (e.g. Rossberg
et al., 2011).
5.3.4
Herbivory : detritivory ratio
This indicator, proposed by Ulanowicz (1992), is the ratio of the values of the detritivory flow (from detritus to level II) divided by the value for the herbivory flow (from
primary producers to level II). It is sometimes presented as H/D (then abbreviated
HDR). This indicator was inspired by Lindeman (1942) when he referred to the role of
saprophageous organisms and heterotrophic bacteria. This ratio has already been
tested as a candidate for defining functional indicators of the food web, but results
seem to be case sensitive. For example, Ulanowicz (1992) observed a lower Detritivory
/ Herbivory ratio in disturbed situations whereas Dame & Christian (2007) observed
exactly the opposite trend. Then the disturbed situation showed a shift to a more detritus-based food web.
5.3.5
Ecological Network indices of ecosystem status and change
(Ulankowicz)
The Redundancy (R) (Monaco and Ulankowicz 1997) indicates the system’s energy in
reserve and is an indicator of a change in the degrees of freedom of the system, and
describes the distribution of energy flow among the ecosystem pathways (Heymans et
al., 1997). Based on the description of R by Ulanowicz (2004), who suggested that “it
strongly ties to the effective multiplicity of parallel flows by which medium passes between any two arbitrary system components”. Redundancy is linked by Christensen
(2005) with system stability and proposed by Heymans et al., (1997) as an index of foodweb resilience. According to Bondavalli et al., (2000) high redundancy signifies that
either the system is maintaining a higher number of parallel trophic channels in order
to compensate for the effects of environmental stress, or that it is well along its way to
maturity. With regard to overall performance and robustness, ecosystem level indicators based on ecological network analysis and foodweb analysis are informative on
intermediate and long time-scales (Curry et al., 2005, Moloney et al. 2005, IEEP 2005).
But they are also difficult to use in annual updates and operational approach, and may
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be more difficult for stakeholders to understand (IEEP 2005). In addition, using foodweb models and the ecological network analysis approach to explore different management scenarios, through simulation fishery and nutrients management, could
deliver integrated overview on ecosystem level.
5.3.6
System omnivory index
The system omnivory index (SOI) measures the distribution of feeding interactions
among trophic levels of food webs, thus SOI allows for evaluating the complexity and
connectivity of food webs, that have been associated to ecosystems ability to recover
from perturbation (Christensen, 1995). Given a food web with n elements, the SOI is
calculated as the weighted average of the elements' omnivory, this latter calculated as
the omnivory index (OI) . The OI of each consumer element i with trophic level TL i is
quantified as the variance of the trophic levels of its preys (TL j ) (Williams and Martinez, 2004). The SOI of a given trophic network is quantified as the weighted average
of the OI of all consumers of the network, where the weighting factors are taken as the
logarithm of each consumer food intake (Q i ) (Christensen and Pauly, 1993). This allows
for accounting of the different strengths of consumer interactions and the logarithm is
used on the observation that consumptions are approximately log–normally distributed within the system (Christensen and Pauly, 1993).
Topological configuration of links and their weights affect SOI altough it is quite robust
to the number of nodes in the web (Libralato, 2013). Comparison of stability and complexity indices including SOI for coastal marine food webs, highlighted positive correlation between SOI, magnitude of change and recovery time , thus suggesting that SOI
is inversely related to stability in the marine ecosystems analysed (Perez-Espana & Arreguin-Sanchez, 1999). Moreover, application of SOI and other ecological indicators on
the basis of outputs of protected and fished marine food webs standardized by number
of elements, suggest that SOI is sensitive to fishing (Libralato et al., 2010).
5.4
Structural Indicators linked to diversity and ‘canary’ species
Indicators that have been suggested in the workshop to relate to biodiversity in food
webs or to highlight the fate of particular “canary species” (Link 2005) include scavenger biomass, geometric mean abundance of seabirds, productivity of key predators, a
general Species Richness Index, and the Gini-Simpson diversity index (species dominance) of large fish and of small fish by biomass.
5.4.1
Guild Surplus Production models
Guild Surplus Production is tracked in the annual Ecosystem Assessment document
for the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (e.g.. Zador 2013). Species are
grouped into functional guilds based on feeding and life-history studies. Survey and
catch time-series for each species are used to calculate the surplus production for each
guild. To use as a catch limit, in addition to a single-species limit for each managed
stock, the sum of quotas for each guild cannot exceed the MSY for the guild as defined
by a standard surplus production model. Per-species reductions to meet this overall
limit are not proscribed by this index; reductions can be made for stakeholder or economic reasons. For Bering Sea (ecosystem-wide) indicator example, see Meuter and
Megrey (2006). The indicator uses the same data collected for the individual species
within each guild (survey biomass and catch).
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5.4.2
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Total biomass of small fish
This indicator uses survey catch biomass of predefined small (pelagic) fish to assess
exploitation levels of commercial stocks. The amount of energy transferred from zooplankton to higher trophic levels by pelagic fish is ultimately limited by the biomass of
pelagic fish available. Shephard et al., (2014) therefore suggest that both the biomass of
individual stocks should be above precautionary reference points on average and the
total stock biomass of all pelagic fish together should be above a joint community reference point. In practice, the community reference point is always reached when all
individual stocks are above precautionary reference levels. However, in the case where
one or more stocks are substantially below single-stock reference points, additional
care should be taken in the exploitation of the remaining stocks in the area.
5.4.3
Proportion of Predatory Fish
Predatory fish species are defined as all surveyed fish species that are not largely planktivorous (i.e. phytoplankton and zooplankton feeders should be excluded, Shin et al.
2010). A fish species is classified as predatory if it is piscivorous, or if it feeds on invertebrates that are larger than the macrozooplankton category (.2 cm). Detritivores
should not be classified as predatory fish. This indicator captures changes in the
trophic structure and changes in the functional diversity of fish in the ecosystem. It is
sensitive to fishing pressure, but since it is a ratio, it will also be subject to changes in
non-predatory fish, whose biomass may vary for other reasons (e.g. environmental
driver, Bundy et al., 2010).
This indicator is calculated as the biomass of predatory fish surveyed / biomass surveyed, and the data required are trawl survey data and food habits data (or if not available locally, from information in the literature, or from comparable systems).
5.4.4
Pelagic to demersal ratio
The ratio of pelagic to demersal fish (P:D ratio) obtained from fishery-dependent or independent surveys is a commonly used metric that describes trophic energy flow
and community structure (Caddy 2000, de Leiva Moreno et al 2000, Rochet and Trenkel
2003, Link 2005). Changes in P:D ratio have been linked to anthropogenic pressures
such as fishing and eutrophication. Targeted fishing can result in notable shifts in this
indicator, however, changes may be not be entirely clear, as an increase in the P:D ratio
could be caused by an increase in pelagic fish or a relative decrease in demersal fish.
As an indicator of food web properties, P:D ratio may overlap with other large and/or
forage fish indicators, but does capture important trophic relationships.
5.4.5
Biomass of trophic guilds
Biomass of trophic guilds is a measure of ecosystem structure, estimated as the aggregate biomass of each trophic guild. Individually they provide a measure of the change
in biomass of trophic guilds. Collectively used they provide a measure of change in
overall structure. It can be applied to all marine species if the information is available,
based on survey data or model results. Work to date has largely focused on fish trophic
guilds (Shackell et al., 2012; Rochet et al., 2013), but could be extended to invertebrates
birds, and marine mammals. Measures of functional diversity could also be developed
using these data. Data sources can be from research surveys or models.
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5.4.6
Lifeform-based indicator for the pelagic habitat
Ecosystem health theory (reviewed by Tett et al., 2013) suggests that ecosystem resilience, and the sustainability of services, depends inter alia on the abundance and relationships of non-substitutable `functional groups' or 'lifeforms'. The abundances and
trophic structural relationships of phytoplankters, and their protozoan and mesozooplankton consumers, change seasonally. The Plankton Index (Pi) method takes account
of such seasonality and requires the plotting of log-transformed lifeform abundances,
based on at least monthly samples, in sets of 2-D state spaces (Gowen et al., 2011). These
plots (Tett et al., 2008) often suggest a fuzzy doughnut. When the data relate to a reference period, an envelope can be drawn to include a fixed proportion (usually 90%) of
points in this doughnut. Data from other years can be plotted against this envelope;
the Pi[j,t] value (for lifeform pair j and year t) is the proportion of new points that fall
inside the envelope. For a given value of t, values of Pi for different lifeform pairs can
be averaged. A UK project has identified sets of lifeform pairs that may serve for assessment of environmental status in relation to COM (2010) criteria 1.4, 1.6, 1.7, 4.3, 5.2
and 6.2. The lifeform pairs relevant to Food Webs and criterion 4.3 are: (i) chlorophyll
concentration and mesozooplankton abundance; (ii) phytoplankton >= 20 µm abundance and phytoplankton < 20 µm abundance; (iii) [adult] copepods >= 2 mm abundance and [adult] copepods < 2 mm abundance. Reference conditions for any of the Pi
are expected to be dependent on ecohydrodynamic (EHD) conditions (van Leeuwen et
al., ms). The UK is currently seeking EHD-specific references at sites in the Celtic or
Greater North Sea MSFD ecoregions that are, according to expert judgement, in GES.
Meanwhile, time-series of Pi will be generated from conditions during an agreed (but
arbitrary) period of 3 years, and the time-series will be assessed for (a) significant trend,
and (b) significant correlation with relevant pressures.
5.4.7
Region-specific indicators of abundance & spatial distribution,
Indicators can be selected to track the abundance and spatial distribution of major species which represent key community and or/ecosystem properties. Ideally, species representing different communities or habitats (benthos, plankton, fish, top predators)
should be selected, in this way covering a large part of the ecosystem. As ecosystems
are typically characterized by few strong links and many weak links among species or
trophic levels, one (or few) indicator populations can describe broader ecosystem state
and/or human perturbation. Criteria in the MSFD for selecting the groups/species that
could be included in this category are those with fast turnover rates, groups/species
that are targeted by fisheries, the habitat-defining groups/species, those at the top of
the food web, and those tightly linked to other trophic levels (Rogers, et al., 2010).
5.4.8
Fish biomass/benthos biomass from models
Ratios are used to measure changes in community structure indicating the distribution
of energy in the ecosystem. They are a supplement to biomass indicators and have the
advantage that they do not reflect general increases or decreases in biomass in all components but only changes in the relative importance between the two groups. Hence,
pelagic biomass/demersal biomass represents the balance between pelagics and demersals whereas the fish/benthos ratio reflects the proportion of the biomass which is
diverted to benthos, including detritivores. The indicator captures changes in the
trophic structure and changes in the functional diversity of the ecosystem. It is sensitive
to fishing pressure, but since it is a ratio, it will also be subject to changes in non-manageable benthos, whose biomass may vary for other reasons (e.g. environmental driver,
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Bundy et al., 2010). Data sources can be from research surveys (mainly nekton) or models (often benthos, since this is often not surveyed on appropriate spatial and temporal
scales).
5.4.9
Zooplankton spatial distribution and total biomass
This indicator, which describes the distribution of zooplankton, is still at the developmental stage with methods, threshold and target value still to be developed. The reasoning for this indicator is that zooplankton constitutes an important link between
primary producers and higher trophic levels in the food web. Zooplankton plays an
important role in the energy transfer and nutrient cycling in the food web. The changes
of the composition of the zooplankton community is coupled to environmental
changes and can respond quickly to ecosystem changes. Zooplankton biomass and
abundance can e.g. quickly respond to invasive species and local oil spills.
5.4.10 Scavenger biomass
Fishery discards provide food subsidies that help maintain fish and seabird populations and may allow some of these populations to be more abundant than they would
be with just ambient resources (e.g. Polis and Strong, 1996, Link and Almeida 2002).
Surveys of non-targeted scavenger biomass or abundance may provide an index of
disturbance (Methratta and Link 2006, Link and Almeida 2002). Additionally, some
scavenger species might be viewed as a “canary” or “iconic” species that can be used
as an early warning of disturbance or fishing pressure.
5.4.11 Geometric mean abundance of seabirds
The indicator Geometric Mean Abundance of Seabirds is computed in regular intervals
(e.g. yearly) as the geometric mean of the population sizes (e.g. numbers of individuals
or breeding pairs) of those seabirds in the assessment region for which population
time-series are available, normalized such that the indicator value at the beginning of
the indicator time-series is one. The indicator is designed after the Living Planet Index
(LPI, Loh et al. 1998, 2005), which now underlies Aichi Target 5 of the Convention for
Biological Diversity. Modern indicator protocols take into account that species may
enter or leave the set of species for which time-series are available, and that population
sizes at low abundances become uncertain (Loh et al., 2005, Buckland et al. 2011). Methods to compute indicator confidence intervals have been developed (Loh et al., 2005,
Buckland et al., 2011). By its definition, the proportional rate of change of the indicator
equals the average population growth rate of all populations contained in the indicator
(here seabirds). Under conditions where populations fluctuate and turn over but overall biodiversity does not change, the indicator is expected not to deviate significantly
from one. A steady decline of geometric mean abundance signals biodiversity loss.
Seabird populations are known to be highly sensitive to food availability (Cury et al.,
2011), and their differentiation of foraging niches (Fasola et al., 1989) is evidence of
competition for food among them. Competitive exclusion resulting from loss of biodiversity among their marine resources (e.g. forage fish), or even at lower trophic levels
(Rossberg 2013), can be expected to induce the slow decline of seabird diversity to
which this indicator is designed to be sensitive. Geometric mean abundance of seabirds
is therefore sensitive to a collapse of the pyramidal distribution of species over trophic
levels in food webs (de Ruiter et al., 2005).
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5.4.12 Gini-Simpson diversity index (species dominance) of large and small
fish by biomass
It is incompatible with GES to bring the foodweb into a state where only a few (large)
predator or prey species dominate the system when the biomass of predators and prey
was distributed more evenly in the system during the reference period. Species richness may be inadequate as an indicator as it often takes a long time to completely lose
a species, while management should be informed and act earlier. The Gini-Simpson
index (1-D) applied to the predator and/or prey community provides the possibility to
detect unwanted changes in diversity. Simpson's Diversity Index is a measure of diversity which takes into account the number of species present, as well as the relative
abundance of each species. As species richness and evenness increase, so does diversity
(ICES, WGSAM, 2012).
5.4.13 Species Richness Index
Species richness measures the number of species within a community. A well-structured and functioning ecosystem will generally have many species; as a side effect of
fishing, species richness may decrease (Rice 2000, 2003). However, as a food web indicator species richness may provide ambiguous information, since multiple community
configurations may produce similar values (Rice and Gislason 1996, Gislason and Rice
1998). This was calculated as the number of species in any year whose numerical abundance or biomass was larger than some percentage of their value in a reference year.
The IUCN Red List criterion of 20% was used as the reference value. Required data:
species or functional group P/B, and species or functional group biomass/abundance
to compare to refefence point.
5.4.14 The large fish indicator (LFI)
The Large Fish Indicator (LFI) is defined as the proportion by weight of large fish in
the sample of a specified survey (SEC 2008, Greenstreet et al., 2011), where large fish
are defined as those longer than a threshold length L th , a region-specific threshold
value. The value is chosen such as to optimize the responsiveness of the indicator to
fishing pressure, as determined from historic data (Shepherd et al. 2011). The LFI takes
no account of species identity but rather of individual sizes. However, it was shown to
reflect mostly the proportion (by weight) of large-bodied species in communities
(Shephard et al., 2012). Large-bodied species tend to be more vulnerable to fishing,
which is why the LFI is sensitive (Greenstreet et al., 2011, ICES 2011, Shephard et al.,
2013) and specific (Houle et al., 2012) to fishing pressure. Furthermore, by expressing
the indicator in terms of proportions by weight, and not by numbers, and through judicious choice of the appropriate length threshold to define large fish, the indicator can
be desensitised to variation in the abundance of small fish. The influence of environmentally driven recruitment events on indicator values can therefore be minimized
(Greenstreet et al. 2011). Foodweb models (Shephard et al., 2013, Fung et al. 2013) and
data (Fung et al. 2012) suggest that recovery of the indicator from pressures can be slow
(decadal scale). The LFI, as an OSPAR EcoQO for the North Sea, is fully operational. It
is part of the indicator suite that member states have to report on under the Data Collection Framework to evaluate the effects of fishing on the ecosystem (2010/93/EU). It
was named as an indicator for foodweb GES (EU, 2010), and has been chosen as a common foodweb indicator by HELCOM and OSPAR (in some OSPAR Subregions as a
priority candidate indicator).
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5.4.15 Mean length of surveyed community
Mean length (ML) of all species caught in survey, whether fishery-independent, fishery-dependent, or as landings, can be a useful and simple indicator to evaluate the
overall effects of fishing on an ecosystem (Bellail et al. 2003, Shin et al., 2005, Dulvy et
al., 2004, Nicholson and Jennings 2004, Rochet and Trenkel 2003). ML quantifies relative abundances of large and small individuals and describes the size distribution of a
community (Shin et al. 2005), and is relatively responsive to key pressures (Pauly et al.
1998, Link et al. 2010). ML is considered measurable and generally robust, however, the
direction of response may be caused by increasing stocks of large fish or decreasing in
stocks of small fish, leading to potential ambiguity. Whilst the metric is sensitive to
fishing pressure, it can also be strongly influenced by environmentally driven recruitment events that introduce large numbers of small fish into the community (Badalamenti et al., 2002; Lekve et al., 2002; Wilderbuer et al., 2002).
5.4.16 Size spectra slope
Various measures of the change in size can be a useful indicator to describe composition of communities (Nicholson and Jennings 2004). Size spectrum slope measures the
relationships between the biomass (y) of individuals within a body size class and body
size (x), both normally plotted on logarithmic scales. Frequently a log to the base 2
transformation is applied to the body size class, particularly when weight classes are
used so that each increase in body size classes represents a doubling in body mass.
When applied to fish communities, the slope of the relationship becomes increasingly
negative in response to fishing pressure; fisheries reduce the abundance of large sized
fish, the direct effect of fishing, and as a consequence of reduced predation pressure
from large fish, the abundance of small fish increases, the indirect effect of fishing (Rice
and Gislason 1996, Gislason and Rice 1998, Nicholson and Jennings 2004; Daan et al.,
2005). The size spectra slope is considered measurable and robust. However, the direction of response may not be entirely clear (Trenkel and Rochet 2004), as the steepening
of the slope could indicate a decrease of large fish or an increase of small fish. The slope
is particularly sensitive to changes in the abundance of small fish, which markedly affect the intercept of the regression line, as such the size spectra slope can be influenced
by environmental driven recruitment events, which raise the abundance of small fish
(Badalamenti et al., 2002; Lekve et al., 2002; Wilderbuer et al., 2002).
5.4.17 Zooplankton Size-Biomass index
This is a zooplankton indicator reflecting both mean individual size and total biomass
of zooplankton community. The indicator represents food web capacity to sustain fish
feeding conditions and exert grazing on primary producers. The rationale is that both
mean body size in the community and total community biomass are positively related
to fish feeding conditions, whereas total biomass alone is just representative of grazing
pressure and trophic transfer efficiency (Stemberger and Lazorchak, 1994; Fuchs and
Franks, 2010). The effects of zooplankton community structure on energy transfer and
food web resilience have been demonstrated in both freshwater and marine systems
(Lougheed and Chow-Fraser 2002; Kane et al., 2005; Jeppesen et al., 2011). The index is
currently considered as a core indicator for the Baltic Sea (HELCOM 2012, 2013). In
semi-enclosed seas, such as the Baltic Sea, with strong salinity and temperature gradients, no single zooplankton group can adequately reflect community properties
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(Remm 1984), hence the need for this two-dimensional index. The index value decreases with increasing fishing pressure. Protocols for indicator assessment have been
developed by HELCOM Zooplankton Expert Network (ZEN) using nine long-term
monitoring datasets in the Baltic Sea (HELCOM 2012, 2013). In all datasets, the indicator was found to predict deviations from GES conditions. Determination of GES
boundaries for the indicator is straightforward and based on the regional basin-specific
Environmental Quality Ratios for chlorophyll accepted within Water Framework Directive and weight-at-age for zoo-planktivorous fish (HELCOM 2012, 2013).
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
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Application of agreed evaluation criteria to proposed Food Web
6.1
Applying Selection Criteria
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Indicators
The indicator evaluation criteria noted in Section 3 (Table 3.1), grouped into five broad
themes, were used to evaluate the full suite of FooWIs (Table 5.1; section 5).
6.2
Using Selection Criteria
Each indicator presented under Section 5 (Table 5.1) was evaluated against the selection criteria and scored as either 0, 1 or 2, where 0 = not met, 1 = partly met, and 2 =
fully met. We used a Delphic method whereby sets of indicators were scored by small
groups based as far as possible on consensus, following a discussion and common understanding of the indicators themselves and how to apply the criteria to the indicators.
These were then examined individually and in plenary so that all scores were adjusted
based on consensus-based discussions. We recognize there are other methods for arriving at these scores, but this approach was amenable to this particular working group
structure.
Each of the 13 subcriteria was scored equally and no weighting was applied. Particular
issues or concerns with individual scores were highlighted for subsequent discussion
in plenary.
Scores were presented as a %age of the total score available (max score x number of
categories; i.e. 2 x 13 = 26). Indicators were ranked within the agreed Attributes of food
webs (Functioning (energy flows), Resilience (ability to recover from perturbation),
Structure (species organization)).
The outcome of the scoring system was discussed and agreed in plenary before being
used to inform the process of indicator prioritization and Roadmap development.
6.3
Challenges and Observations concerning application of the Selection
Criteria
Although the scoring system provided a quantitative basis from which to select indicators, there was opportunity to allow for human judgement and other qualitative considerations when making the final selection.
Scoring outcomes were specific to the indicator as currently used and understood by
the presenter. A different set of scores could have materialized if the indicator was
applied to a different ecosystem component and for which data were less readily available.
A low score for an indicator was not necessarily a poor outcome. It suggested either
that there were difficulties with the theoretical basis or applicability of the indicator in
the context for which it was applied, or that the indicator was a good one but required
more time to fully evaluate before putting into operational use.
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Selection of appropriate food web indicators
The ranked indicators (Table 5.1) within the three food web attributes were evaluated
in plenary to confirm the scoring so that priority indicators within each attribute could
be identified. In the process, indicators were annotated to support and justify their
position or to add further context and explain why scores were lower than perhaps
expected. This annotation is used to support the discussion of the prioritization below.
It was clear that the group of functional (section 5.2.1 to 5.2.17) and resilience (section
5.3.1 to 5.3.6) indicators were generally applicable to D4 (food webs) and to some extent
also D3 (fish communities). This suggested that the opportunity to provide guidance
on this suite of indicators remained firmly within WKFooWI. In contrast, those allocated to the ‘structural’ category (section 5.4.1 to 5.4.17) were also appropriate to other
descriptors of GES, especially D1 (biodiversity), D5 (eutro), D3 (fisheries) and D6 (sea
floor integrity). As a result WKFooWI felt that it would be most appropriate to provide
an opinion on which of the structural indicators scored most highly against the food
web criteria. WKFooWI also felt that, without a fundamental review of the biodiversity
attributes applied for indicator selection in D1, it was unlikely that specific structural
biomass/abundance metrics required to support food web indicator development
would be generated under this Descriptor.
Within each attribute, indicators tended to cluster into groups where those based on
similar ecological theory scored similarly. When selecting priority indicators for further development it was therefore considered necessary to review the full list of indicators and ensure that those clustered together, but with lower scores, were also taken
into consideration to maintain diversity of indicator formulations.
The final rank scores were obtained from the unweighted sum of all 13 evaluation criteria. When the evaluation was re-run separately using just the first six criteria (linked
to practical aspects of indicator measurement), and the next seven criteria (linked to
aspects of indicator implementation), there was relatively little difference in the final
overall outcome. This suggests that the final rank score was robust to variability of
criteria selection and was little influenced by single criteria evaluations.
The following section highlights those indicators that scored highly against the criteria
applied by WKFOOWI. A concluding section adds general context in preparation for
the Roadmap to take forward indicator development in a management context.
7.1
Indicator appraisal: Food web function
A relatively large number of indicators were identified which had clear links to functional aspects of food webs. Those scoring highly against the assessment criteria are
described below, and comments are also made in relation to those which did not score
well.
7.1.1
Productivity (production per unit biomass, including seabird breeding
success)
Production or biomass ratios for various parts of the food web, detect gross structural
changes in the energy flow through a food web which may have been caused by, for
example, removal of key species by harvesting, or disruption of distributional overlap
between predators and prey through climatic factors. This indicator class scored
highly and showed promise to guide further development of specific food web indicators.
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
7.1.2
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Total Mortality (Production:Biomass ratio)
This indicator is also known as Total Mortality Z (Fishing mortality + natural mortality)
and commonly used in the ecosystem modelling community (Ecopath with Ecosim).
Despite the relatively high score it was considered that this was not the most easily
interpretable indicator of food web functioning. However, its inverse, (1/Z) is an estimate of longevity, which could be considered an indicator for resilience.
7.1.3
Primary Production required to sustain a fishery
It was considered that this indicator has a solid conceptual basis. . However, the difficulty
of explaining the concept to the lay public contributed to a moderate score for this indicator.
Moreover, this indicator does require estimates of transfer efficiency (TE), which are
generally assumed to be 10–15% between trophic levels. Note that indicators of transfer
efficiency themselves were not selected as indicators for use immediately due to lack
of data to systematically estimate TE. Yet this indicator was viewed as more integrative
of a wider suite of factors and the TE was considered a more minor (and simulation
studies have shown robust for estimates of PPR) part of this overall indicator due to its
broader inclusion of other factors.
7.1.4
Productive pelagic habitat index (Chlorophyll fronts)
Monitoring intermediate marine productivity and chlorophyll-a fronts by satellite using remote observation was considered an effective indicator of energy-flow in food
webs. Indices such as this, which describe primary production and fuelling of the foodweb, are thought to be particularly important to describe functional processes. There
are limitations to their application mostly in the presence of coloured dissolved organic
matter such as in turbid waters (e.g. Baltic Sea) for which a correction on chlorophylla content needs to be applied. Besides the monitoring of eutrophication, the implications for management are not always clear. Fronts are hydrodynamic features which
attract significant biomass of commercial fish so there is potential to support fisheries
management.
7.1.5
Ecosystem exploitation (fisheries)
This indicator was considered useful to describe the harvesting pattern of exploited
ecosystems. It is an indicator of the pressure of the fisheries on the food web.
7.1.6
The suite of marine trophic level indicators
Four fairly similar indicators of this type were evaluated, the mean trophic level of the
catch, the mean trophic index of the fish community, the mean trophic level of the community and the trophic balance index. Each has slightly different formulation but all
require a) good quality, and regularly updated data on dietary relationships, b) timeseries of survey catch or landings from broad regional seas to avoid local population
or fleet effects, and c) accurate and agreed, regularly updated assessments of trophic
levels.
Similarly the Trophic Balance Index, describing the fishing pattern of local métiers, can
be useful in the context of assessing food web effects of fisheries harvesting, but has
limited application for other pressures
TL indicators integrate across the ecosystem. They are likely to be applied in some subregions where data are considered suitable.
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7.1.7
Other low scoring functional indicators
Low scores allocated to indicators such as the disturbance index, loss in production
index, mean transfer efficiency and Finn Cycling Index were due to uncertainty over
the quality of the technical assessment (data needs and rigour) and the likely ease of
implementation. However, some may warrant further investigation.
7.1.8
Indicator appraisal: Resilience Indicators
Resilience is an important attribute of food webs and the grouping process was used
to highlight those indicators which most closely corresponded to this attribute.
It was interesting to note that the six indicators that had a link to the functioning attribute, and also contributed to the inherent resilience of the food web, were generally
scored lower than many other indicators. This may be because they are more conceptually complex.
It was considered that the top three in this category, the Mean trophic links per species,
Ecological Network Analysis derived indicators, and the Gini-Simpson dietary diversity index, all held promise as food web indicators but the WKFooWI felt that these
would not be recommended as suitable for implementation in the short term. The
complexity of measuring food web resilience and ability to recover from perturbation
partly explains the low scores allocated to the assessment criteria in the area of costeffectiveness of data gathering, although they all have strong science credibility. The
criteria with low scores, e.g. the costs of dietary sampling, highlight where most effort
needs to be directed in future in order that these indicators can become more fully developed. For example, it would be easy to address some of the communicability issues
and other criteria where these scored low.
The indicators that scored poorly in this attribute (Herbivory:detritivory ratio, Ecological network indices, system omnivory indices) will take more time to develop. The
complexity of their formulation also suggests that, even if further developed, they may
be difficult to explain in a management context.
More importantly these indicators need regular diet time-series data, which have not
been made widely available even to support applied multispecies fishery assessments.
The group was aware of other indicators that might inform the resilience of food webs
but was not made aware of them in time to review them. It is possible that some, such
as the mean lifespan and the mean maximum length (longevity) weighted by number
or biomass of a population would score highly.
7.2
Indicator appraisal: Structural Indicators
Several indicators in this category resulted in relatively high scores, suggesting that
managers may want to use these indicators to help interpret patterns observed particularly in higher trophic levels. Another important consideration is the role of aggregated sets of structural indicators, such as those related to phytoplankton,
zooplankton, forage fish, scavengers and birds, which together have important implications for food web resilience as well as structure of the individual components.
It needs to be made clear that many of these structural indicators are describing the
same ecosystem components in multiple different ways, and other EU Directives, as
well as other Descriptors of GES, are already leading on developing these indicators.
Therefore the data are likely to be collected and available.
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
7.2.1
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Guild-level biomass across ecosystem components
Valued indicators were those which informed trends in absolute biomass, production,
or ratios of both, for a number of ecosystem components especially higher predators.
For those structural indicators that aggregate across multiple components, it was generally thought preferable to have indicators comprising absolute values rather than ratios, as these data would be necessary anyway to interpret ratio metrics. Some of these
abundance related indicators may be given a higher priority if they are also useful for
informing an aspect of food web resilience. For example both the Gini-Simpson diversity index (a species dominance index of large fish and of small fish by biomass) and
the Species Richness Index were thought to be potentially useful for assessing food
web resilience.
7.2.2
Validity of Results
Group scoring processes are naturally dependent on group composition. Hence, a different group of scientists may come to different results, leading to different scorings of
different indicators. This can potentially invalidate the general applicability of both the
level of the indicator scoring and the ordering of the indicators according to scoring,
presenting serious problems for the general validity of the results. To investigate the
extent of this problem, the group scorings of WKFOOWI on a previously examined
subset of FooWIs were compared to the scoring of WGSAM (ICES, 2013) where the two
groups scored the same indicators. Though there was some minor overlap in membership of the two groups, only one person participated in the scoring of both groups, and
hence the validity was not a result of this effect. The comparison showed that indicator
order was remarkably consistent (fig 7.2.2), whereas indicator scoring varied between
group with WKFOOWI generally providing a wider range of scores then WGSAM.
This indicates a high consistency of the indicator ordering but a lower consistency of
scoring level. Hence, indicators should not be disregarded based on their scoring level,
but the ordering of the indicators can be taken as indicative of a general perception of
the ICES scientific community.
WGSAM score
80%
R² = 0.8307
70%
60%
50%
20%
40%
60%
80%
WKFOOWI score
Fig. 7.2.2 Comparison of WKFOOWI scoring and WGSAM scoring.
100%
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Roadmap highlighting process for further development of indicators where necessary
While it is possible to make broad conclusions about specific indicators or indicator
classes, their applicability still depends on the availability of suitable data at a regional
sea or Member State level, and the willingness of national administrations to apply the
indicator in a management context. Most effective regional seas management will be
achieved when member states sharing management responsibility reach common
agreement on suitable metrics and targets / reference points. This is likely to require
compromise, and there is a significant role here for Regional Seas Conventions to support indicator development.
The other important part of this cooperation will be the selection of a suite of indicators
that together act to support coordinated management action. Working with existing
legislation, where there are already effective food web indicators in development, will
simplify the task significantly.
The suite of suggested FooWIs evaluated above is the outcome of the application of
selection criteria at a regional seas scale. It is possible that in a subregional assessment
by a member state there would be local factors that change priorities. The outcome
here does not therefore preclude work on other FooWIs, though the extent to which
they are broadly applicable in a regional context should be assessed.
The criteria that scored relatively poorly can be used as a ready means to identify the
extent of further work required. In several areas, particularly for communication, there
is scope for rapid improvement as part of the ongoing work to improve the rigour of
the indicators identified.
Within regional programmes to further refine food web indicators, WKFooWI supports the use of an assessment process such as the one used here that takes account of
multi-criteria in a full assessment. As described above, the criteria for indicator assessment are readily available and sufficiently robust to be applied with confidence in a
range of situations.
This would be a useful activity by the Regional Seas Conventions in local coordination
of food web indicator development. WKFooWI suggest a repeat of this broad scale
evaluation in about 2 years to evaluate those indicators that require further development.
WKFooWI noted on several occasions that there were significant links between some
of the MSFD descriptors. While the group is clear about the priorities for current food
web indicators application, and future work thereon, it also recognizes that some indicators that provide important context, i.e. structural indicators, are the responsibility
of other groups. WKFooWI suggests that similar broad scale review is undertaken for
these groups, especially for biodiversity, fish community, and sea floor integrity (D1,
D3 and D6), with strong links made to the outcome of WKFooWI. WKFooWI also underscores the need for good communication between the groups working on the eleven
MSFD descriptions, both in the selection of indicators and their interpretation.
8.1
. Choosing Suggested Indicators
WKFooWI suggests two sets of indicators, one set that may be implemented now and
one that holds promise for future development. Key considerations that went into our
choice of suggested FooWIs included:
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Relative ranks within the major FooWI attributes informed the choice of indicators,
but were not adhered to in a rigorously quantitative manner.
Coverage of all attributes—we wanted to ensure, to the extent practicable, that all three
main categories of FooWI attributes were represented.
All functional groups—we attempted to maximize the coverage of all functional
groups found within a food web. Recognizing that much indicator development has
occurred for upper trophic level contexts, we ensured that lower trophic level taxa
were not omitted even though, as a group, they may have scored lower than more
commonly or routinely monitored upper trophic levels.
Major indicator classes—we wanted to ensure the major classes of FooWIs were represented, not necessarily all of them, but those were deemed by this group and others
as important facets to elucidate food webs.
Current operability— effectively this was an ad hoc review (or perhaps weighting) of
operability issues related to data availability, management relevance and existence of
thresholds, targets or related reference points, which although were selection criteria,
were deemed critical enough to warrant additional consideration. These were applied
only for the current set of suggested FooWIs.
Links to other MSFD Descriptors—this consideration was not used to omit or choose
any particular indicator, but was used to ensure that we emphasized those FooWIs that
are unique to this MSFD Descriptor. We wanted to ensure that particularly those elements associated with food webs (e.g., integrative, resilience, etc.) were at least covered
by some part of the suggested indicator suite.
8.1.1
Suggested FooWIs for Current Use
8.1.1.1 Guild level biomass (and production)
This (or if a set, these) addresses structural attributes of food webs, and can also serve
as a proxy for functioning. It was noted that the typical use of this type of indicator
has been for fish, but if feasible this indicator should include multiple guilds across the
trophic levels, such as primary producers, zooplankton, benthos, and charismatic megafauna, beyond just fish or upper tropic levels. The guilds should be determined as
appropriate to the taxa in the regional seas.
This indicator more clearly specifies the MSFD D4 indicator, Production per unit biomass 4.1.1 as well the D4 indicator abundance within range 4.3.1. It was recognized
that in some subregions, production may not be available, so biomass would be feasible. Yet biomass of species guilds was deemed highly useful in its own right, and if
both are possible that both should be considered.
8.1.1.2 Primary Production Required to sustain a fishery
This addresses the functioning attribute of food webs. It is understood that PPR is
really PPR to sustain a fishery, and is thus a measure of the ecological footprint of the
fishery. However, this metric can, and often does, integrate a wide range of removals
from a food web. It was also noted that derivatives of this FooWI could, where feasible,
be contrasted to estimates of primary production to ensure it is directly appraised
against field data. This indicator more clearly specifies the prior D4 indicator, Production per unit biomass 4.1.1. It was recognized that satellite imagery makes estimates of
primary production widely available (given the usual caveats of remotely sensed data),
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and typical landings and associated data are also widely available, making this attractive, integrative, and more feasible to estimate than is often perceived.
8.1.1.3 Seabird (charismatic megafauna) productivity
The breeding success of seabirds addresses the structural and functional attribute of a
food web, and although multiple views were expressed on the point, can also serve as
a proxy for resilience as well. Although particular to seabirds, especially breeding success/ chicks per pair, it was recognized that such taxa may not be prominent or as important in all regional seas. Thus the WKFooWI members also noted that this
productivity indicator could also been calculated for marine mammal taxa (i.e. pup
production rates). This indicator more clearly specifies the prior D4 indicator, Production per unit biomass 4.1.1.
8.1.1.4 Zooplankton size biomass index
This addresses both structural and functional attributes of food webs. This indicator
was identified as important to include because although indicators associated with this
taxa group were often ranked lower, they represent an important part of the food web,
being the link between lower trophic level primary production and upper trophic level
consumption and growth. Further, in many food web studies measures of keystoneness quite typically have at least some major group of zooplankton as one of the most
important taxa groups. The specific indicator should be one that integrates across the
different facets noted in the title, but which particular one is context dependent for a
given regional sea.
8.1.1.5 Integrated trophic indicators (mean TL, mean size)
This addresses both structural and resilience attributes of food webs. WKFooWI members noted that it was critical to include an explicitly integrative measure that provided
some view of the overall system and did not focus on only certain facets of it. There
are many possible indicators one could utilize for this category, but something such as
mean trophic level, or mean / proportion at size of the community (which have all been
shown to be correlated) depending upon trophic data availability in a given regional
sea.
It was noted that all of these suggested FooWIs would need to be informed by, and
potentially be interpreted from, indicators collected and developed in other MSFD descriptors. The important point being that certain taxa groups need to be covered, regardless of what descriptor they occur within. Aggregate measures of phytoplankton,
zooplankton, forage fish, scavengers and birds were deemed important for D4 FooWIs.
8.1.2
Future development of FooWIs
WKFooWI suggests the following FooWIs as promising to consider and develop for
use in the future. These may require that the science warrants further development,
but more likely that these need to have broader data availability or infrastructure to
support data in a broader set of regional seas, better links to management, or clearer
thresholds. It does not imply that other indicators may not be worth pursuing or that
these will necessarily develop into viable candidates; rather that these appeared promising in the WKFooWI evaluation. However, the rigour of their estimation, their response to pressure, their behaviour and the estimation of reference points generally
need to be further explored.
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8.1.2.1 Ecological Network Analysis
The broad set of Ecological Network Analysis-derived indicators were identified as
potentially useful. Some of the more complicated indicators that have been extant for
multiple decades (e.g. cybernetic instances such as those posed by Ulanowicz et al.)
may not be worth further pursuing. But others are being identified, merit further testing, and warrant further consideration. An example could be overall mean transfer efficiency. These were not quite ready for management, but demonstrate promise to
cover an integrated food web perspective addressing multiple food web attributes, particularly resilience.
8.1.2.2 Gini-Simpson dietary diversity index
The Gini-Simpson dietary diversity index (and related diet diversity and energy flow
indicators) was also identified as potentially useful. The major concern was widespread and routinely collected data availability of diet or food habits data. The major
advantages were its intuitiveness and that it addressed a full range of energy flows.
8.1.2.3 Condition Indicators
A broad class of Condition Indicators were identified as nearly ready. These are represented by mean weight at age and similar, but were viewed as important functioning
FooWIs. They were very ready scientifically and often had clear thresholds, but did
not always have widespread data availability.
8.1.2.4 Marine Trophic Level indicators
A broad class of Marine Trophic Level indicators was noted as being promising to better elucidate resilience attributes of food webs. There are many specific examples of
these indicators, and further development, particularly regarding testing relative to
pressures, was deemed a promising approach. These would particularly be informative for food web resilience attributes.
8.1.2.5 Primary producers
There as a general consensus that more information regarding primary producers
would be useful for D4. Certainly other MSFD Descriptors could consider this set of
indicators, but they are informative for D4. An important consideration is that satellite
derived chlorophyll front data, and estimates of primary production, are widespread
and available. A particular indicator that WKFooWI evaluated that held particular
promise was the Productive pelagic habitat index. It and others like it hold promise,
but require further development of management linkages and thresholds.
8.1.2.6 Zooplankton Indicators
Although some are extant now, the broad class of Zooplankton Indicators was noted
as important, needed and simply requiring further development—largely in terms of
familiarity, thresholds, and clearer management linkages— before usage. However,
the WKFooWI members noted that even if management relevance is never directly
linked, these indicators would still be important to consider and develop given the
importance of this taxa group to the food web.
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ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
8.1.3
Other Considerations for Future Indicator Development
Apart from the obvious infrastructural, data, and related needs, and given the usual
scientific testing and rigor checking associated with indicator development, two overarching factors should also be considered in future development.
WKFooWI reiterated the need to better evaluate food web resilience. The WKFooWI
noted that resilience is a more nuanced attribute that in some ways combines structural
and functioning attributes, but in such a way as to be uniquely informative. Therefore,
refined evaluation of resilience indicators, using existing FooWIs in light of how they
have been considered to inform resilience elsewhere, and explicit evaluation of other
resilience related indicators, should be considered in future indicator development efforts.
Generally speaking, the development of thresholds or targets warrants further attention. FooWIs may be interesting scientifically and relevant to management, but if they
cannot inform management action they have less utility.
8.1.4
Protocols to Evaluate future FooWIs (and other indicators)
WKFooWI recommends that future evaluation follow this general process presented
herein. The approach noted represents best practices for indicator selection and builds
upon a wide range of previous ICES and global bodies of work. It also affords the
opportunity to examine how previously emphasized D4 FooWIs have changed relative
to a broader suite of indicators.
The suggested protocol would consist of the following steps:
•
Brief review of criteria available, but largely using that described in this and
related ICES (WGBIODIV, WGECO, etc.) and other indicator work.
•
New indicators are presented, and already-examined indicators be updated.
•
The new set of candidate indicators are scored using a multi-criteria decision
analytic approach as used here and elsewhere.
•
The method for consensus of scoring may vary, but the important point is
to ensure consensus in a transparent, collegial and objective manner.
•
Any future updates or advances particularly emphasize the development of
thresholds for any possible indicator, to the point that those without demonstrable and tested targets largely be omitted, with few exceptions.
Examination of the criteria in Table 3.1 will identify facets of FooWIs that require further attention. We highlight the four most probable areas for improvement. One area
would be data availability and quality which requires enhanced infrastructure to obtain and process the necessary data. Of particular note, it would be wise to invest in
routine (even if albeit infrequent) food habits / diet sampling, as that is a core element
for many of these food web indicators and has wide application elsewhere.
Another area for reasonable improvement would be to better link response indicators
to pressure indicators and thus solidify the scientific underpinning for why indicators
could be used. Without understanding the pressure-response nature, especially if it
includes non-linearities, the utility of food web indicators will remain marginal (Shin
et al., 2012).
The third area for probable improvement would be to better associate indicators to
management relevance and particularly to demonstrate responses to management action. A range of simulation studies may be warranted for this point.
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
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The final area for improvement would be better delineation of indicator thresholds.
This point is discussed further below.
8.1.5
Protocols to establish more rigorous thresholds for FooWIs (and other
indicators)
Indicator response must be related to measurable pressure(s) (i.e., anthropogenic or
environmental pressure) that are based on causal or otherwise robust relationships.
Methods to identify thresholds seek to identify a point or level at which a small change
in pressure results in a large, and sometimes abrupt, response in attribute state or function have been developed in a variety of fields (e,g., ecotoxicology; Suter, 1993 and
econometrics; Zeileis and Kleiber, 2005).
We note that WGECO developed related criteria to evaluate indicator targets. The criteria cover: the approach to define targets; framework consistency; regional consistency; preference for established targets; integrity; adaptability of targets;
uncertainty in target estimates; derivation of targets; scale; cross-sectoral integration
and trade-offs; and ease of understanding (ICES-WGECO 2013). WKFooWI builds
upon this, but provides particular emphasis on the means to define the targets, while
the other WGECO criteria reinforce facets of the selection criteria previously noted.
In general, thresholds detection processes adhere to the following framework (Anderson et al 2005). A measurable attribute of change must be identified between the response and pressure variable(s) such as the variance, mean, or slope. Additionally,
change in these attributes can also be examined over time to explore regime shifts or
other temporal patterns (Fewster et al., 2003). Multiple analytical methods, such as
cumulative sums (CUSUM; Hinkley, 1970), sequential t-test (STARS; Rodionov, 2004),
empirical fluctuation processes (Zeileis and Kleiber, 2005), and significant zero crossings of piecewise regression models (Samhouri et al., 2012) or generalized additive
models (Large et al., 2013) have been used to identify the level of pressure that results
in a significant indicator response (Anderson et al., 2005). When available, simulation
modelling can also be used to explore the management implications of empirically determined thresholds, which may offer further insight into management utility of indicators (Fay et al., 2013).
8.2
Timelines
Awareness of indicators suggested for current use (section 8.1.1) should be encouraged
within the next few months as Member States prepare their MSFD monitoring plans.
Beyond that, ongoing review to fit with the six year review cycle of the MSFD would
be appropriate, as well as any planned revision of the Commission Review Document.
Under these circumstances, WKFooWI would be keen that key messages on food web
energetics described in this report are transmitted to other groups developing and revising other descriptors, especially those related to biodiversity.
There is an important role for the Regional Seas Conventions in leading this process,
particularly in light of the broad scale processes that are included in food web assessment.
48 |
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ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
Recommendations
WKFooWI members make the following recommendations:
1. That in the short term for the specific MSFD D4 context, these indicators be considered for application at a Regional Seas scale.
Primary production required to sustain fishery
Seabird (charismatic megafauna) productivity
Zooplankton indicators based on community biomass, size structure and productivity.
Integrated trophic indicators (mean TL, mean size)
Biomass of trophic guilds
2. That in the medium-term future (i.e. 2–3 years), a similar ad hoc expert group, or an
existing ICES WG, re-evaluate FooWIs and how they have developed. Suggestions for
specific areas of development have been included in this report.
3. That appropriate organizations commit to the necessary infrastructure to, as appropriate, collect, process, manage and analyse requisite food web related data at a regional and subregional seas scale. This includes data on primary production,
zooplankton, scavengers, forage fish, seabirds, and, importantly, food habits.
4. That ICES adopt the general approach here as a best practice and thus avoid (what
is perceived as) endless and needless re-evaluations of indicator selection criteria, so
that future work can emphasize an objective evaluation of indicators, and not a recapitulation of their attributes or criteria.
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
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Annex 1: List of participants
Workshop on Food Web indicators 31 March- 3 April 2014 (WKFooWI)
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
Name
Address
Phone/Fax
E-mail
Simon
P.R.
Greenstreet
Marine Scotland Science
Marine Laboratory
Phone
+44
1224 295417
P.O. Box 101
Fax +44 1224
295511
simon.greenstreet
@scotland.gsi.gov.
uk
AB11 9DB Aberdeen
United Kingdom
Simone
Libralato
Istituto
Nazionale
di
Oceanografia e di Geofisica
Sperimentale - OGS
Borgo Grotta Gigante 42/C
Phone +39 040
2140376
[email protected]
te.it
Fax +39 040
2140266
34010 Sgonico TS
Italy
Nathalie
Niquil
Centre National de Recherche Scientifique
[email protected]
icaen.fr
Université de Caen
14032 CAEN Cedex 5
France
Maciej
Tomczak
T.
Baltic Sea Center
Stockholm University
SE-106 91 Stockholm
Sweden
[email protected]
u.se
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ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
Name
Address
Phone/Fax
E-mail
Andrea
Belgrano
Swedish University of
Agricultural
Sciences
Institute
of
Marine
Research
Phone +46 70
84 33 526
[email protected]
lu.se
Fax + 46 523
13977
P.O. Box 4
453 21 Lysekil
Sweden
and
Swedish Institute for the
Marine
Environment
(SIME)
Box 260
SE 405 30 Goteborg
Sweden
Jean-Noel
Druon
Joint Research Centre,
Institute for Protection and
Security of the Citizen
Maritime Affairs Unit G.04,
TP 051
Phone:
+39
0332 78 6468
[email protected]
europa.eu
Via Enrico Fermi 2749
21027 Ispra (VA)
Italy
Phillip S Levin
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Northwest Fisheries Science Center
2725 Montlake Blvd. E
Seattle, WA USA 98112
United States
[email protected]
ov
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Name
Address
Scott Large
National Marine Fisheries
Services
Northeast
Fisheries Science Center,
Woods Hole Laboratory
Phone/Fax
E-mail
[email protected]
ov
166 Water Street
Woods Hole MA 02543
United States
Phone +1
Fax +1
E-mail
Jurate
Lesutiene
Klaipeda University
[email protected]
H. Manto 84
LT-5808 Klaipeda
Lithuania
Marie
Johansen
Swedish
Meteorological
and Hydrological Institute
[email protected]
mhi.se
Folkborgsvägen 1
SE-601 76 Norrköping
Sweden
Karen van de
Wolfshaar
Wageningen IMARES
P.O. Box 68
karen.vandeWolfs
[email protected]
1970 AB IJmuiden
Netherlands
Izaskun
Preciado
Instituto
Español
de
Oceanografía
Centro
Oceanográfico
de
Santander
P.O. Box 240
39004 Santander Cantabria
Spain
[email protected]
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ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
Name
Address
Joana Patricio
Joint Research Centre,
Institute for Environment
and Sustainability,
Phone/Fax
E-mail
[email protected]
c.europa.eu
Via Enrico Fermi 2749
21027 Ispra (VA)
Italy
EC
Andreas
Palialexis
[email protected]
rc.ec.europa.eu
Joint Research Centre,
Institute for Environment
and Sustainability,
Via Enrico Fermi 2749
21027 Ispra (VA)
Italy
EC
Alida Bundy
[email protected]
Fisheries
and
Oceans
Canada Bedford Institute of
Oceanography
P.O. Box 1006
Dartmouth NS B2Y 4A2
Canada
Dr Paul Tett
Reader in Coastal Systems
Scottish Association for
Marine Science (SAMS)
Scottish Marine Institute
Tel: +44 1631
559417
Fax: +44 1631
559001
[email protected]
uk
Oban, Argyll,
PA37 1QA
Scotland
Fabio Pranovi
Università Ca Foscari Venezia Environmental Sciences Department
Castello 2737B
30122 Venezia
Italy
Phone +39 041
234 7735
Fax +39 041
528 1494
[email protected]
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
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Name
Address
Phone/Fax
Elena
Gorokhova
University of Stockholm
Applied
Environmental
Science
E-mail
[email protected]
tm.su.se
Svante Arrhenius väg 8
11418 Stockholm
Sweden
Marie
Rochet
Joelle
Ifremer Nantes Centre
P.O. Box 21105
44311 Nantes Cédex 03
France
Stuart Rogers
(Chair)
Centre for Environment,
Fisheries and Aquaculture
Science (Cefas) Lowestoft
Laboratory
Phone +33 240
374121
Marie.Joelle.Roche
[email protected]
Fax +33 240
374075
Phone
+44
1502 562244
[email protected]
.co.uk
Fax +44 1502
513865
Pakefield Road
NR33 0HT Lowestoft Suffolk
United Kingdom
Jason
(Chair)
Link
National Marine Fisheries,
Woods Hole Laboratory
Phone +44 75
513 96243
166 Water Street
Fax +44 1502
513865
Woods Hole MA 02543
[email protected]
v
United States
Axel Gerhard
Rossberg
Centre for Environment,
Fisheries and Aquaculture
Science (Cefas) Lowestoft
Laboratory
Pakefield Road
NR33
0HT
Suffolk
United Kingdom
Lowestoft
Phone +44 75
513 96243
Fax +44 1502
513865
[email protected]
s.co.uk
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ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
Name
Address
Phone/Fax
E-mail
Mark DickeyCollas
International Council for
the Exploration of the Sea
Phone
+4533386759
[email protected]
H. C. Andersens Boulevard
44-46
Fax
+4533934215
1553 Copenhagen V
Denmark
Geir
Odd
Johansen
Institute
Research
of
[email protected]
Marine
P.O. Box 1870
Nordnes
5817 Bergen
Norway
Jennifer Houle
[email protected]
Queen s University Belfast
University Road
BT7 1NN Belfast
United Kingdom
Anna Rindorf
DTU Aqua Institute
of
Resources,
National
Aquatic
Jægersborg Allé 1, 2920
Charlottenlund,
Denmark
Phone
5883378
+45
Fax
+45
35883333
[email protected]
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Annex 2: Agenda
Monday, March 31
0900–0930
Greetings, Introduction, Expectations of Workshop
0930–1100
(TOR C, D) Discussion of Policy and Management Needs for Indicators (MSFD, ICES context, national ocean policy, food web science overview)
1100–1115
Morning Coffee/Tea
1115–1230
(TOR B) Presentations on approaches to Indicator Review Criteria
1230–1330
Lunch
1330–1500
(TOR B) Discussion and agreement on Indicator Review Criteria
1500–1515
Afternoon Tea
1515–1730
Thresholds
(TOR D) Presentations and Discussion on generic Indicator Responses,
1730
Adjourn
Tuesday, April 1
0900–0915
Logistics, Recap prior day
0915–1000
(TOR C) Discussion on Using Food Web Indicators for MSFD and in
other Marine Ecosystem management contexts
1000–1100
(TOR A) Presentations on Food Web Indicators
1100–1115
Morning Coffee/Tea
1115–1230
(TOR A) Discussion of Food Web Indicators
1230–1400
Lunch
1400–1600
(TOR A) Presentations on Food Web Indicators
1600–1615
Afternoon Tea
1615–1730
(TOR A) Discussion and tabulation of proposed Food Web Indicators
using agreed Criteria
1730
Adjourn
Wednesday, April 2
0900–0915
Logistics, Recap prior day
0915–1100
(TOR C) Evaluation/Selection of operational Food Web Indicators
1100–1115
Morning Coffee/Tea
1115–1230
(TOR C) Evaluation/Selection of operational Food Web Indicators
1230–1400
Lunch
1400–1600
(TOR D) Discussion of Roadmap highlighting process for further development of indicators where necessary
1500–1530
Afternoon Tea
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ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
1530–1730
(TOR D) Develop Roadmap outline
1730
Adjourn
1900
Group Dinner
Thursday, April 3
0900–0915
Logistics, Recap prior day
0915–1100
Writing session
1100–1115
Morning Coffee/Tea
1115–1230
Writing session
1230–1400
Lunch
1400–1500
Writing session
1500–1600
Final discussion, wrap up
1600–1615
Afternoon Tea
1615–1730
end
ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
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Annex 3: WKFOOWI terms of reference
WKFooWI - Workshop to develop recommendations for potentially useful Food
Web Indicators
2013/2/ACOM49
The ACOM Workshop to develop recommendations for potentially
useful Food Web Indicators (WKFooWI), chaired by Stuart Rogers* (UK) and Jason
Link* (USA), will meet 31 March – 3 April 2014 at ICES HQ, to:
1 ) Review Pragmatically Estimable Food Web Indicators
2 ) Evaluate said Indicators Against Standard Criteria for Indicator Use
3 ) Develop a proposal for food web indicators for marine ecosystem based
management incl. relevant to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive
(MSFD)
4 ) Suggest and plan the way forward (i.e. preparation of a roadmap how to get
there)
WKFooWI will report by 1 May to ACOM.
Supporting information
Priority
High.
Scientific justification
There is a well established need to use food web indicators (structure
and function) in the management of marine ecosystems, and the
management of the components in those marine ecosystems. Many
typical metrics used to manage marine ecosystems and living marine
resources are indicative of state variables and structural properties (e.g.
biomass); as such they often miss many of the key features, dynamics
and properties of marine ecosystems that can lead to biased or misinformed management advice. Food web indicators better and more
directly represent measures of rates, networks features, connectivities,
and functioning of these marine ecosystems and living marine
resources. As such they can provide augmenting information pertaining
to Good Environmental Status.
In the light of the EC Marine Strategy Framework Directive there is an
urgent need for operational indicators for food web structure and
function, that can be used to advice management of human activities in
the marine ecosystem and monitor the response of the system towards
Good Environmental Status (GES).
Tor c and d. The EC has requested ICES to develop a proposal on
indicators for descriptor 4 of MSFD (food webs). As stated in the
Commission Decision (20010/477/EU) additional scientific and technical
support is required for the further development of criteria and
potentially useful indicators to address the relationships within the food
web.
In this framework, ICES shall work towards recommendations for
potentially useful indicators(to be considered for the revision of the
Commission Decision) with a roadmap how to get there.(DG ENV
request 1d)
Resource
requirements
None. The research programmes providing input to this WK are already
underway and resources committed. The additional resource required
for the WK is negible.
Participants
Approximately 25-30 experts with interest in suggesting and applying
indicators on foodweb structure and function.
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Secretariat facilities
Two meeting rooms at ICES HQ
Financial
No extra funding requested.
Linkages to advisory
committees
This work will feed directly into the work byACOM, and support the
ICES Council Steering Group on the MSFD.
Linkages to other
committees or groups
WGECO, WGSAM,and the groups under the RSP of ICES.
Linkages to other
organizations
EC and the EU Member States, the Regional Seas Commissions in
Europe (e.g. OSPAR and HELCOM) EEA, NOAA, PICES, ESSAS,
IMBER, IOOS
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Annex 4: Technical Review of Indicators for MSFD Descriptor 4
Summary of reviews of WKFooWI and WGECO
This document is a synthesis of the independent reviews of the work of WKFooWI and
the work of WGECO in readiness for the drafting of ICES advice. WGECO also commented on the work of WKFooWI, and this is included in this synthesis.
Overall summary
The reviewers appear content that the indices were evaluated appropriately and using
suitable criteria. There was some criticism of the inadequate descriptions of each index.
One reviewer felt that the definitions of structure, function and resilience need clarification and that indices were perhaps inappropriately classified. The issue of indices for
management action and indices for surveillance of change (no direct pressure to state
relationship, e.g. zooplankton biomass index) was discussed and needs to be highlighted. This should be clarified for each of the five in the suite of 5 proposed indices.
The suite of 5 was broadly accepted by the reviewers although one reviewer proposed
that two other types of indices were missing (structural foodweb index for uni-cellular
organisms and a topological index (who eats who). There was criticism of the roadmap
(with an alternative roadmap provided), especially for the development of targets or
thresholds. There was a request to make sure that the advice links through to the previous ICES advice on DCF time-series for the MSFD.
Little extra insight was provided about the LFI work by the reviewers. Considering
that the LFI is included in the MSFD legislation, and appears to now be moved from
D4 to D1 by the scientific community, neither WKFooWI nor WGECO concisely addressed what the MSFD should do with the LFI.
1. Foodweb indicator development carried out at WKFooWI
1.1 WGECO comment
WGECO noted that WKFooWI recognized the following key elements of a process for
choosing indicators:
•
The need to have a suite of indicators, and not just the “one” indicator;
•
The need to have clear criteria for selecting indicators;
•
The need to have clear objectives for why indicators shall be developed and
used;
•
The need to have clear venues for evaluating, vetting and referencing indicators;
•
The need to have clear “clients” who will use the indicators and are asking
for them.
In addition, indicators should be sensitive, have a basis in theory and be measurable.
The evaluation criteria were availability of data, quality of underlying data, conceptual/theoretical basis, communication and manageable. WKFooWI distinguished the
attributes of a foodweb characterized by an indicator (structure, function, resilience)
and what they called a foodweb indicator class (energy flow, network, canary, diversity, size, aggregate). It is also important to consider functional groups (phytoplankton,
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zooplankton, benthos, cephalopods, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles). WGECO then provide a table of which potential indicators were primarily associated with which foodweb attributes (WGECO Table 3.1). WGECO agreed that the evaluation of the
indicators was carried out following the accepted methods developed by WGECO and
WGBIODIV.
WGECO made the following observations about the five indicators recommended by
WKFooWI as the initial suite of indicators.
I NDICATOR
R ATIONALE
WGECO
Guild level
biomass (and
production)
Structural attributes of foodwebs, and
can also serve as a proxy for
functioning. Improved specification of
MSFD D4 indicator, Production per
unit biomass 4.1.1 as well the D4
indicator abundance within range
4.3.1.
This would definitely be useful as a
surveillance indicator1 for the state of the
foodweb and the relative stability of its
major components. As an operational
indicator, it may be difficult to manage,
particularly through fishery measures.
Given our current state of knowledge, it
may also be difficult to set specific targets
for the biomass of particular guilds. If
management were possible, it may well
end up with a focus on particular species
within a guild where fisheries measures
might be more effective.
Primary
Production
Required to
sustain a fishery
The functioning attribute of
foodwebs. Improved specification of
D4 indicator, Production per unit
biomass 4.1.1.
This would appear to be primarily useful
as a surveillance indicator1. It is difficult
to see how specific management could be
exerted. If trophic level of specific groups
is not constant, the indicator requires
persistent sampling of diet composition.
It requires context setting and can be
difficult to communicate.
Seabird
(charismatic
megafauna)
productivity
The structural attribute of a foodweb,
and may be able to serve as a proxy
for resilience or functioning.
Improved specification of D4
indicator, Production per unit
biomass 4.1.1
These indicators have already been well
documented and used in a range of
contexts, and can be considered as
operational and suitable for management.
In the full version of the WKFooWI
report, seabird productivity is directly
cited as expressing the “abundance” of
forage fish, while it actually probably
reflects the “availability” of these fish.
These indicators are undoubtedly
valuable in themselves, but maybe
questionable in terms of “integrating” the
foodweb below them.
Zooplankton
spatial
distribution and
total biomass
Both structural and functional
attributes of foodwebs.
This would be a surveillance indicator1,
for general ecosystem health and
productivity–but would not be
manageable.
Integrated
indicators (mean
TL, mean size)
Both structural and resilience
attributes of foodwebs.
Again, this is a good surveillance
indicator. Like guild level biomass, it may
be potentially subject to management that
focuses on individual components of the
community
OBSERVATION
WGECO then stated that the most valuable indicators are those which are operational
and appropriate to direct management via a pressure–state relationship. There are also
surveillance indicators that are indicators that quantify neither pressures nor directly
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affected attributes, but are nevertheless needed for an informed assessment and management of foodwebs. A key feature of surveillance indicators is that they are unlikely
to respond unequivocally to management or support target setting. They operate more
to provide warning of changes that may impact on our ability to achieve targets in
other indicators (e.g. zooplankton biomass).
WGECO then suggest caution when using “fish” dominated approaches, or approaches that assume foodwebs based on “adult only” diets.
1.2 Nik Probst
Why did WKFooWI simplify the evaluation criteria previously used by WGBIODIV?
However the simplification appeared appropriate. More descriptions of the indicators
would have been beneficial. The following work is required to make the indicators operational by 2018.
a ) Specification of indicator metrics.
b ) Gathering of relevant data.
c ) Analysis of pressure–state relationship.
d ) Development of indicator targets.
e ) Constant updating and reassessment (also of targets).
Why were so many indicators scored highly for the criterion “management thresholds
(targets) estimable”. Why for indicators such as “biomass of trophic guilds” this criterion scored also highly. Was the thinking that healthy or good ecosystems consist of
large, predatory fish (gadoids for the best) without scavengers and lower trophic
groups. Whether this is ubiquitously the case, can be questioned. In fact, exploited systems may be modified, but also healthy and stable.
Also the assumption by WKFooWI that the best indicators are based on observed (empirical) rather than modelled data was supported.
1.3 Simon Jennings
The work of WKFooWI was much more focused than that of WGECO and will be easier
to turn into advice. WKFooWI were clear that they were aiming for pragmatic approaches to identify, use and continue to develop FooWI. The analysis was complete
to the extent possible. The shortlist of indicators provide a suitable focus going forward, provided ICES can move quickly towards developing the technical specifications for these general classes of indicator.
WGECO commented that several of the short‐list of indicators proposed by WKFooWI
are surveillance indicators. Given there is no technical description of the indicators this
is a reasonable analysis based on current understanding of pressure–state links, but
further selection and technical development of these indicators could tailor them to
respond to impacts we can actually manage.
The focus on the development of a roadmap was limited (question c) and plans for
moving towards future specification and implementation of D4 indicators are not clear.
The WKFooWI report does define a process for selecting and developing D4 indicators
and then applies it, and these are two important first steps in a longer process that
might be described in a ‘roadmap’. The advice could therefore show that two steps in
a mapped process were complete, but would need to articulate the other steps, perhaps
drawing on experience with D3, for which planning is more advanced than for the rest
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ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
of the interrelated D1, D3, D4, D6 group. In the ‘Roadmap’ section of the WKFooWI
report it is perhaps optimistic to brigade the short‐list as suggested FooWI for current
use, as I do not see evidence of technical underpinnings needed to use them right away
in the MSFD context; although some have been the subject of research papers etc. and
some components of these indicators are already available/ used in other contexts.
Possible steps for a roadmap that includes the steps already presented would be:
a ) define criteria for selection of broad indicator classes (done WKFooWI and
others);
b ) make selection of priority broad indicator classes based on criteria and map
to EC(2010) (done WKFooWI);
c ) develop technical specification of indicators within the selected broad classes at Regional scales, taking account of contributions of existing indicators
(D1, D4, D6) and available data;
d ) screen refined indicators against criteria (strongly engaging RCS and representatives MS);
e ) write up technical specifications of indicators that pass screening in clear
accessible format, provide ‘toolkit’ for RSC and MS to generate and report
indicators that pass screening.
With regards to the selected initial suite of indicators:
Guild level biomass (and production): If the initial aspiration is not to be comprehensive then significant initial progress will be made by drawing on data and indicators
for other descriptors. This approach would also solve the challenge of identifying indicators that respond to management measures. For fishes, guilds could be based on
the sum of biomass or production from groups of assessed stocks, especially when
these cover a large proportion of biomass regionally. If large proportions of biomass in
functionally important guilds are not covered at present in some regions then additional population assessments might be conducted to fulfil the aim of developing indicators for the guild (e.g. previous (2013) advice that assessments of all forage fish
species that account for >5% of total fish biomass, or that are important in the diet of
dependent species (especially when these are protected species)). These may support
D3 as well. For higher predators (e.g. mammals and birds) estimates of abundance and
production that would also fulfil the needs of D1 could be used and presented in aggregate form to support D4. Primary production from remote sensing already well
supported by work of JRC, and this relates to the second of the short‐list of indicators
as well. However, the issue with moving away from species sensitive to the various
types of mortality imposed by people (or the few cases where there is a well-established
indirect response) will be that there is no identifiable management measure for MS to
put in place. For this reason, and given criteria, I suggest the strength of pressure‐state
links may be used in the roadmap to help prioritize the work on guilds.
Primary production required to sustain a fishery: Since landings data are readily
available at appropriate scales this indicator can be calculated with information on
trophic level at size of the fished species, primary production and assumed transfer
efficiency. No limits/ targets are clearly justifiable at the moment so far as I am aware,
but the value of the indicator would respond to management if you wanted it to. Lots
of likely controversy surrounding trophic level and transfer efficiency as assumptions
here have a big effect on outcomes. However, cheap to calculate and applies to all regions.
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Seabird (charismatic megafauna) productivity: Well developed and could also serve
D1 and input to the guild analysis above.
Zooplankton size biomass index: If zooplankton assessment of some form were attempted this would also support the guild analysis above.
Integrated trophic indicators (mean TL, mean size): I assume this is where you assume LFI or a proxy is retained, maybe worth stating explicitly to link to the other
ongoing and reported work. The two examples used in your title for this indicator are
less understood and perform less effectively in most case studies the slope of size spectra, note also WGECO analysis in the reviewed section on large fish and trophic level
(and concluded that the strength of connection was variable) so need to check consistency of message in material presented.
1.4 Benjamin Planque
The workshop report provides a clear answer to the request by the EU to ICES on the
development of criteria and potentially useful indicators to address the relationships
within the foodweb. Thus the objectives of the workshop, i.e. to produce a short list of
foodweb indicators for the EU-MSFD and a defined process for selecting these indicators, were met. The methods used to evaluate the criteria were valid and conformed to
acceptable norms. WKFooWI also accounted for its own internal bias.
WKFooWI choose to partition the indicators into three main groups 1) functional indicators linked to energy flows, 2) functional indicators linked to ecosystem resilience
and 3) structural indicators linked to diversity and ‘canary’ species. This partition of
the indicators was not so easy to follow and that several indicators could easily have
been moved to another category. The preferred approach would be to consider:
•
Foodwebs can be defined as networks in which nodes are trophospecies
(which can be individual taxa, guilds, size-based groups of individuals, etc.)
and connections between nodes are trophic flows (often expressed in mass,
carbon or energy).
•
A foodweb structure can often be described by its topology (i.e. the listing
of trophospecies and trophic flows) eventually complemented by quantitative estimates of biomasses.
•
The dynamics within the foodweb is best described by quantification of the
trophic flows, how they vary over time and how they affect trophospecies
biomass. In addition, reconfiguration of the foodweb topology may occur
(by extinction or colonization).
•
A pragmatic approach to the description of resilience in foodweb is provided in Levin and Lubchenco (2008) who identify three important qualities
that confer resilience to networks: diversity, redundancy and modularity.
This paper should have been referenced.
It is suggested to re- group the general categories and re-adopt the ones outlined above:
structure, dynamics and resilience. This would not affect scoring and evaluation of individual indicators.
A primary focus is made on pressure-response and the establishment of rigorous
thresholds for indicators. In many cases however, multiple synergistic pressures may
prevent from establishing easy pressure-response relationships and associated thresholds. A balanced view between the use of indicators against thresholds and the use of
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ICES WKFooWI REPORT 2014
trend-based assessment using indicators without threshold might be more appropriate.
The section on descriptions of the indices provides the rational for including individual
indicators in the evaluation/selection process. However, this seems to have been written by many hands and the result is uneven. Some sections provide measurement/calculation methods, some provide guideline for interpretation, some provide indication
of applicability for management, but few provide all of the above. A standardization
of these sections would be helpful and useful.
There are two types of indicator missing from the list:
5 ) On the lower end of the pelagic foodweb lie unicellular organisms which
can be autotrophs, heterotrophs or mixotrophs and belong to various taxonomic groups (e.g. bacteria, protozoans, diatoms, …). This part of the foodweb is believed to be particularly sensitive to warming and acidification of
the ocean with responses that might likely percolates to higher trophic levels. These were not included as indicators changes in structure of dynamics
in the lower part of foodwebs.
6 ) One of the simplest ways to describe a foodweb is a topological description
(i.e. who eats whom). Surprisingly, no indicators of foodweb topology are
presented.
Why did none of the five include an indicator for resilience?
2. LFI analysis carried out by WGECO
Overview of currently published regional LFIs and ongoing work
A REA
LFI
TIME - SERIES
DEVELOPMENT
S PECIFIC
TRESHOLD
S PECIFIC
DEFINED
STAGE
North Sea
Completed1
Yes
Yes
Yes
Celtic Sea
Completed2
Yes
Yes
Yes
Southern
Bay of
Biscay
Completed
Yes
Yes
Yes
CentralSouthern
Tyrrhenian
Sea
Ongoing4
Yes
No
No
Baltic Sea
Ongoing5
Yes
Yes
No
Poland
EEZ
Completed6
Yes
Yes
Yes
Kattegat
North
Ongoing7
Yes
No
No
Kattegat
South
Ongoing7
Yes
No
No
The Sound
Ongoing7
Yes
No
No
Gulf of
Cádiz
Ongoing8
No
No
No
3
REFERENCE LEVEL
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2.1 Nik Probst
Nik reviewed Chapter 3 of the WGECO report.
2.2 Simon Jennings
The WGECO report contains extensive new work on the LFI and, when edited, this
will therefore fulfil the DGENV request (question a). Since the ToR for WGECO was
simply to continue working on LFI the work is necessarily not complete. I agree with
most of the scientific conclusions but they are not strongly focused on application in
the management system (if anything previous WGECO reports have been stronger in
this regard). However, the work remains predominantly exploratory and descriptive,
as it has for a number of years, and still has some way to go in terms of reaching maturity (agreed specifications and code for calculation that could be shared among MS
and passed to other EG for example, good understanding of responses to alternate
management actions).
WGECO did fulfil their ToR to extend the work to areas outside the North Sea. Although DGENV simply ask for ICES to continue working on the LFI, this work has been
going on for several years now and I hope you can craft the advice to show clear direction in the new work being done and perhaps encourage more specific goal oriented
requests that can then be passed to the relevant EG in future. My concern is that the
group working on this topic are very good at continuing work, but also need to develop
the work in a way that can be used by MS that may ultimately implement these methods (either inside or outside ICES fora).
2.3 Benjamin Planque
No comments with regards to the LFI work.
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