Haptoglobin (Hp) which is synthesized in response to infection, inflammation, trauma or toxicological damage is known as a major acute phase protein in numerous species. Quantification of the circulating concentration of this protein can provide an objective measure of the health status, but there is a lack of investigations on harbour seals. We investigated the Hp concentration in samples of 123 seals (Phoca vitulina) from the German and Danish Wadden Sea to study physiological ranges of Hp levels. Hp levels between 2002, the end of the phocine distemper virus epidemic (PDV), and 2007 were considered, and Hp concentrations between animals of different sex, ages as well as living areas were compared. Furthermore, as a case study, six animals from the open sea isle Helgoland were investigated in 2006. Influences on the health status of the seal population e.g. the PDV epidemic were reflected by increased Hp levels in North Sea seals in 2002. The results of the Wadden Sea seals showed no significant age-, sex-, or geographical area-related differences. Interestingly, for the seals of the open sea isle Helgoland higher Hp values were measured compared to the Wadden Sea seals. The present study demonstrates that Hp can be used as a diagnostic tool to monitor the health status of harbour seals.
The requirement to assess the impacts of radioactivity in the environment explicitly and transparently is now generally accepted by the scientific community. A recently developed methodology for achieving this end for marine ecosystems is presented within this paper. With its clear relationship to an overarching system, the marine impact assessment is built around components of environmental transfer, ecodosimetry and radiobiological effects appraisal relying on the use of "reference organisms". Concentration factors (CFs), dynamic models and, in cases where parameters are missing, allometry have been employed in the consideration of radionuclide transfer. Dose conversion coefficients (DCCs) have been derived for selected flora and fauna using, inter alia, dose attenuation and chord distribution functions. The calculated dose-rates can be contextualised through comparison with dose-rates arising from natural background and chronic dose-rates at which biological effects have been observed in selected "umbrella" endpoints.
During 2009-2012 stocks of the bivalve Arctica islandica (Linnaeus, 1767) (Ocean quahog) in Kandalaksha Bay (the White Sea) has been assessed using a side-scan sonar, grab sampling and underwater photo imaging. Structurally uniform localities were highlighted on the basis of side-scan signal. Each type of a signal reflects combination of sediment type, microtopography and structural characteristics of benthic community. The distribution of A. islandica was the predominant factor in determining community structure. Seabed attributes considered most significant were defined for each type of substrate type. Relations of sonar signal and sediment type were used for landscape mapping based on sonar data. Community characteristics at known localities were reliably interpolated to the area of survey using statistical processing of geophysical data. A method of integrated sonar and sampling data interpretation for high-resolution mapping of A. islandica by biomass groups, benthic faunal groups and associated habitats was developed.
We analyze the strategies and actions that enable transitions toward ecosystem-based management using the recent governance changes of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park as a case study. The interplay among individual actors, organizations, and institutions at multiple levels is central in such transitions. A flexible organization, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, was crucial in initiating the transition to ecosystem-based management. This agency was also instrumental in the subsequent transformation of the governance regime and provided leadership throughout the process. Strategies involved internal reorganization and management innovation, leading to an ability to coordinate the scientific community, to increase public awareness of environmental issues and problems, to involve a broader set of stakeholders, and to maneuver the political system for support at critical times. The transformation process was induced by increased pressure on the Great Barrier Reef (from terrestrial runoff, overharvesting, and global warming) that triggered a new sense of urgency to address these challenges. The focus of governance shifted from protection of selected individual reefs to stewardship of the larger-scale seascape. The study emphasizes the significance of stewardship that can change patterns of interactions among key actors and allow for new forms of management and governance to emerge in response to environmental change. This example illustrates that enabling legislations or other social bounds are essential, but not sufficient for shifting governance toward adaptive comanagement of complex marine ecosystems.
In 2002 to 2006, sediment profile imagery (SPI) was used to study the environmental impact of eutrophication-induced irregular and seasonal hypoxia on marine benthic habitats in six regions in the Skagerrak and Kattegat (West Sweden). The benthic habitat quality (BHQ) was assessed by parameterisation of biogenic structures observed by the SPI technique, and benthic quality status was related to the EU Water Framework Directive (EU-WFD). The temporal changes were analysed by a 5-factor nested ANOVA and significant temporal differences were recorded within three of the regions. Two of these were affected by hypoxia in the deeper parts and one was probably affected by hypoxia below the halocline. The environmental quality status according to the EU-WFD was bad to high in two regions, moderate to good in three regions, and good to high, i.e., acceptable according to the EU-WFD, in only one region. As BHQ is highly correlated to benthic faunal data, measures have to be taken to improve the coastal water quality in five of the six studied areas.