Managing the marine environment

Managing the marine environment is a difficult process. Not only are there a huge number of interacting factors to consider, from economic, recreation and environmental perspectives, but in terms of the ecology, as most of it is underwater, we don’t have that much idea how many fish there are in the sea, or what interacts with what.

An approach I’m currently working on is using Bayesian networks to model community interactions by formalising data from multiple sources, knowing that there is likely to be some inaccuracy and guess work in each of these sources:

A current piece of research is to study the dynamics of rocky shore communities using these networks. Not only do I want to know if they can predict the dynamics correctly, but also if expert opinion can correctly parameterise the networks to make these predictions.

Rocky shores are very well studied, especially through manipulative experiments. As such, it should be easy for an expert on a particular system to make judgements about what will happen – based on known data and published results. However, this is not normally the case for most marine environments. Species interactions are poorly known, and some degree of guess work is required to make predictions.

Therefore, to make expert opinion ‘less certain’, I would like to ask rocky shore ecologists who have not directly worked in the UK, or other marine biologists (UK or otherwise) who haven’t worked on rocky shores to take a questionnaire about species interactions on UK shores. It is likely you will know some of the species, or taxonomically or functionally related species, so will be able to provide educated guesses about what will happen. However, I don’t want you to conduct research on what most likely happen, or look up any of the species which you don’t know. This will hopefully mimic the kind of knowledge often required to be produced by experts in less well studied environments.
The survey can be found here:

I don’t ask you for your opinion on every interaction, as that would make a very long survey. Please be as confident as you can be when answering questions, and try to avoid ‘don’t know’ unless you really don’t have a clue.

If you enter your email, I’ll get back to you once I have results I can share.

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