Advancing an Ecosystem Approach in the Gulf of Maine

Representation of Biodiversity Knowledge within Ecosystem-Based Management Approaches for the Gulf of Maine

Peter Lawton, Lewis S. Incze, and Sara L. Ellis


Abstract .—Conceptual organization of biodiversity knowledge and explicit acknowledgement of its current limits can help identify priority scientific questions and inform the evolving partnership between science and management in evaluating approaches and priorities for implementing ecosystem-based management. We outline a four-part approach that describes the composition and size spectrum of known diversity ; provides estimates of the presently unknown diversity ; outlines the compositional, structural, and functional elements that mold diversity patterns at different hierarchical levels (from genes to ecoregions); and identifies spatial domains relative to both scientific discovery and management application. This overarching representation of how biodiversity knowledge can be organized builds on earlier considerations for biodiversity monitoring and is informed by recent work under the Gulf of Maine Area Program, the regional ecosystem pilot project of the international Census of Marine Life. Understanding the specific set of biodiversity elements that particular ocean policy objectives and management strategies are directed at can help to target biodiversity research, conservation tactics, and monitoring approaches. A framework for representing biodiversity knowledge increases the capacity to visualize ramifications of management actions in a complex physical-biological system and also provides the essential two-directional conduit for communicating ideas, priorities, and findings between the regional science and management communities.