Using ecological models to assess ecosystem status in support of the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive
The European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) seeks to achieve, for all European seas, “Good Environmental Status” (GEnS), by 2020. Ecological models are currently one of the strongest approaches used to predicting and understanding the consequences of anthropogenic and climate-driven changes in the natural environment. We assess the most commonly used capabilities of the modelling community to provide information about indicators outlined in the MSFD, particularly on biodiversity, food webs, non-indigenous species and seafloor integrity descriptors. We built a catalogue of models and their derived indicators to assess which models were able to demonstrate: (1) the linkages between indi- cators and ecosystem structure and function and (2) the impact of pressures on ecosystem state through indicators. Our survey identified 44 ecological models being implemented in Europe, with a high preva- lence of those that focus on links between hydrodynamics and biogeochemistry, followed by end-to-end, species distribution/habitat suitability, bio-optical (remote sensing) and multispecies models. Approx- imately 200 indicators could be derived from these models, the majority of which were biomass and physical/hydrological/chemical indicators. Biodiversity and food webs descriptors, with ∼49% and ∼43% respectively, were better addressed in the reviewed modelling approaches than the non-indigenous species (0.3%) and sea floor integrity (∼8%) descriptors.
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