A Need for a Sea Change

Science  03 Nov 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5800, pp. 721
DOI: 10.1126/science.314.5800.721b

The significance of the ocean's declining diversity on humanity has been difficult to assess. In a series of meta-analyses, Worm et al. (p. 787; see the news story by Stokstad) quantify how the loss of marine diversity on local, regional, and global scales has affected the functioning and stability of marine ecosystems, the flow of ecosystem services, and the rise of associated risks to humanity. Similar relationships occur between biodiversity change and ecosystem services at scales ranging from small square-meter plots to entire ocean basins; this finding implies that small-scale experiments can be used to predict large-scale ocean change. At current rates of diversity loss, this analysis indicates that there will be no more viable fish or invertebrate species available to fisheries by 2050. However, the results also show that the trends in loss of species are still reversible.

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