Online Panel Discussion: Socio-ecological networks in the Atlantic Ocean

Join us on Wednesday 20 October at 13:00 - 15:00 UTC

Interactions between people and ecological systems form a complex socio-ecological spatial network. Whether considered individually or in combination, maritime activities can produce multiple pressures on different components of marine ecosystems. Much like a game of dominoes, in turn, the impacted components influence others including, for example, marine goods and services (i.e. food, energy, cultural and recreational services), that we humans benefit from.

The picture above, the results of the first conceptual model of the All-Atlantic Ocean socio-ecological network, provides a visual representation of the complexity of these relationships. It shows us the intricate connections between human activities (red blocks), pressures (blue blocks), ecosystem components (green box), and ecosystem services (yellow blocks).

The interaction pathways shown were identified through a literature review as well as stakeholder and scientific expert opinions. The size of the boxes reflects the number of case studies that have been identified for each component. The relative importance of these relationships, in terms of impact on ecosystem components and services, is not illustrated here, as this requires a “scoring” exercise, currently underway by the MISSION ATLANTIC team.

However, the model provides very useful information and allows us to identify possible criticalities and vulnerabilities in the system and, raises several questions.

  • Do we need to maximize our analyses on human activities that have extensive data on impacts (e.g. fishing)?
  • Should we focus on high-impact activities that are more difficult to quantify (e.g. tourism)?
  • Litter, contaminants, and nutrient run-off have impacts that spread across almost all ecosystem characteristics. In some regions, the regulation of such dispersed pressures has achieved excellent results. What is your local/regional experience for the regulation of such pressures?
  • Coastal infrastructure is one of the most common high-risk sectors, while shallow and littoral habitats are the ecosystem components most commonly identified as vulnerable. What does this mean for continued human development, which is predominantly coastal, in a changing climate with expected sea-level rise?

These are just a few excerpts from MISSION ATLANTIC’s Deliverable “Qualitative vulnerability assessment of important ecosystem components for each case study”, and some questions we are mulling over.

We would be delighted to hear your thoughts and opinions on this early work on Wednesday 20 October 13:00 - 15:00 UTC. An expert panel will be available and invite your questions.

Link to join the call:

For more information, please contact: