1) Coral reefs and human health
Despite significant interest in the emerging area of oceans and human health, relatively few studies have linked declining human well-being with compromised ecosystem function and services. The relationship between coral reef ecosystem decline and human well-being has yet to be investigated in systematic way. We are investigating the degree to which anthropogenic disturbances to coral reef ecosystems negatively impacts human well-being, particularly in Pacific Island societies, which exhibit social and cultural dependence on coastal resources. This research effort addresses an important gap in science – that of understanding and documenting how marine ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss impacts human health and well being.
IGERT Group, University of Hawaii
2) Incorporating ecological baselines into environmental laws
The central aim of this work is to establish the basic rationale and clear guidelines for the incorporation of historical baselines into everyday marine resource management and conservation policy and practice. Our approach is to summarise the current status of baselines for fisheries management, pollution abatement, and conservation within the Exclusive Economic Zones of the USA and Australia; define specific criteria for the establishment of rigorous historical baselines that can be used as a frame of reference for management; develop criteria for incorporating historical baselines into regulations, management, and enforcement for sustainable use – while recognising that a return to historically pristine conditions is unrealistic and probably undesirable under most conditions. Because our analysis enhances the ability to utilize long-term ecological patterns and change as tools in marine management, we are undertaking work of direct benefit to ocean ecosystems and fisheries worldwide.