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Journal: Environmental management


This paper proposes a two-stage group decision making approach to urban landscape management and planning supported by the analytic hierarchy process. The proposed approach combines an application of the consensus convergence model and the weighted geometric mean method. The application of the proposed approach is shown on a real urban landscape planning problem with a park-forest in Belgrade, Serbia. Decision makers were policy makers, i.e., representatives of several key national and municipal institutions, and experts coming from different scientific fields. As a result, the most suitable management plan from the set of plans is recognized. It includes both native vegetation renewal in degraded areas of park-forest and continued maintenance of its dominant tourism function. Decision makers included in this research consider the approach to be transparent and useful for addressing landscape management tasks. The central idea of this paper can be understood in a broader sense and easily applied to other decision making problems in various scientific fields.

Concepts: Decision making, Decision theory, Management, Decision making software, Analytic Hierarchy Process, Analytical hierarchy, Plan, Arithmetical hierarchy


Continuing pressures from human activities have harmed the health of ocean ecosystems, particularly those near the coast. Current management practices that operate on one sector at a time have not resulted in healthy oceans that can sustainably provide the ecosystem services humans want and need. Now, adoption of ecosystem-based management (EBM) and coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) as foundational principles for ocean management in the United States should result in a more holistic approach. Recent marine biogeographical studies and benthic habitat mapping using satellite imagery, large-scale monitoring programs, ocean observation systems, acoustic and video techniques, landscape ecology, geographic information systems, integrated databases, and ecological modeling provide information that can support EBM, make CMSP ecologically meaningful, and contribute to planning for marine biodiversity conservation. Examples from coastal waters along the northeast coast of the United States from Delaware Bay to Passamaquoddy Bay, Maine, illustrate how benthic biogeography and bottom seascape diversity information is a useful lens through which to view EBM and CMSP in nearshore waters. The focus is on benthic communities, which are widely used in monitoring programs and are sensitive to many stresses from human activities.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Ecology, United States, Oceanography, Geography, Ecosystem, Landscape ecology, Biogeography


Japanese knotweed s.l. are some of the most invasive plants in the world. Some genotypes are known to be tolerant to the saline concentrations found in salt marshes. Here we focus on tolerance to higher concentrations in order to assess whether the species are able to colonize and establish in highly stressful environments, or whether salt is an efficient management tool. In a first experiment, adult plants of Fallopia japonica, Fallopia × bohemica and Fallopia sachalinensis were grown under salt stress conditions by watering with saline concentrations of 6, 30, 120, or 300 g L(-1) for three weeks to assess the response of the plants to a spill of salt. At the two highest concentrations, their leaves withered and fell. There were no effects on the aboveground parts at the lowest concentrations. Belowground dry weight and number of buds were reduced from 30 and 120 g L(-1) of salt, respectively. In a second experiment, a single spraying of 120 g L(-1) of salt was applied to individuals of F. × bohemica and their stems were clipped to assess the response to a potential control method. 60 % of the plants regenerated. Regeneration was delayed by the salt treatment and shoot growth slowed down. This study establishes the tolerance of three Fallopia taxa to strong salt stress, with no obvious differences between taxa. Their salt tolerance could be an advantage in their ability to colonize polluted environments and to survive to spills of salt.

Concepts: Water, Chemistry, Plant stem, Extinction, Fallopia, Polygonaceae, Japanese knotweed, Stem vegetables


Japanese knotweed Fallopia japonica is an extremely abundant invasive plant in Belgium and surrounding countries. To date, no eradication method is available for land managers facing the invasion of this rhizomatous plant. We tested different chemical herbicides with two application methods (spraying and stem injection), as well as mechanical treatments, on knotweed clones throughout southern Belgium. The tested control methods were selected to be potentially usable by managers, e.g., using legally accepted rates for herbicides. Stem volume, height and density reduction were assessed after one or two years, depending on the control method. Labor estimations were made for each control method. No tested control method completely eradicated the clones. Stem injection with glyphosate-based herbicide (3.6 kg ha(-1) of acid equivalent glyphosate) caused the most damage, i.e., no sprouting shoots were observed the year following the injection. The following year, though, stunted shoots appeared. Among the mechanical control methods, repeated cuts combined with native tree transplanting most appreciably reduced knotweed development. The most efficient methods we tested could curb knotweed invasion, but are not likely to be effective in eradicating the species. As such, they should be included in a more integrated restoration strategy, together with prevention and public awareness campaigns.

Concepts: English-language films, Plant stem, Fallopia, Polygonaceae, Japanese knotweed, Weed, Herbicide, Roundup


Aquatic bryophytes, Hygrohypnum ochraceum, were deployed “in situ” at 14 sites in the Fountain Creek Watershed, spring and fall, 2007 to study selenium (Se) accumulation. Dissolved, total, and pore (sediment derived) water samples were collected and water quality parameters determined while plants were exposed to the water for 10 days. There was a trend showing plant tissue-Se uptake with distance downstream and we found a strong correlation between Se in the water with total hardness in both seasons. There was a modest association between Se-uptake in plants with hardness in the spring of 2007 but not the fall. Plants bioconcentrated Se from the water by a factor of 5.8 × 10(3) at Green Mountain Falls and 1.5 × 10(4) at Manitou Springs in the fall of 2007. Both are examples of the bioconcentration abilities of the plants, primarily in the upper reaches of the watershed where bioconcentration factors were highest. However, the mean minima and maxima of Se in the plants in each of the three watershed segments appeared similar during both seasons. We found direct relationships between the pore and dissolved Se in water in the spring (R (2) = 0.84) and fall (R (2) = 0.95) and dissolved Se and total hardness in the spring and fall (R (2) = 0.92). The data indicate that H. ochraceum was a suitable indicator of Se bioavailability and Se uptake in other trophic levels in the Fountain Creek Watershed based on a subsequent study of Se accumulation in fish tissues at all 14 sites.

Concepts: Plant, Water, Ecology, Maxima and minima, Bryophyte, Moss, Marchantiophyta, El Paso County, Colorado


Decision making related to incidental take of endangered species under U.S. law lends itself well to a structured decision making approach. Incidental take is the permitted killing, harming, or harassing of a protected species under the law as long as that harm is incidental to an otherwise lawful activity and does not “reduce appreciably the probability of survival and recovery in the wild.” There has been inconsistency in the process used for determining incidental take allowances across species and across time for the same species, and structured decision making has been proposed to improve decision making. I use an example decision analysis to demonstrate the process and its applicability to incidental take decisions, even under significant demographic uncertainty and multiple, competing objectives. I define the example problem, present an objectives statement and a value function, use a simulation model to assess the consequences of a set of management actions, and evaluate the tradeoffs among the different actions. The approach results in transparent and repeatable decisions.

Concepts: Decision making, Species, Risk, Decision theory, Law, Endangered species, Endangered Species Act, Conservation reliant species


Rather than exploring how indigenous people have been alienated from resources by environmental policies, this paper explores how indigenous peoples have worked with environmental organizations to use the broad protections provided by environmental laws to protect cultural resources. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, along with other concerned groups, partnered with environmentalists in opposing the destruction of the endangered snail darter’s critical habitat by the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Tellico Dam. The dam had been opposed by a shifting alliance of Cherokees, local farmers, trout fisherman, and environmentalists since it was announced in 1963. A previous lawsuit by this coalition delayed the project from 1972 to 1974 under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Endangered Species Act provided this coalition with a powerful tool for opposing the destruction of burial grounds and sacred village sites throughout the lower Little Tennessee River valley. The coalition of environmental organizations, Cherokees, and others was ultimately unsuccessful in stopping the dam from being built, but was successful in establishing a strict precedent for the enforcement of the Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit also created a space for the Eastern Band to negotiate for the return of Cherokee remains and halt the removal of any additional burials. In this situation, the strategic support of environmental regulation enabled the Eastern Band to exert some degree of control over the fate of cultural resources in the valley, and also demonstrates the significant role American Indian peoples played in one of the seminal events of the environmental movement during the 1970s.

Concepts: Native Americans in the United States, Tennessee, Tennessee River, Cherokee, Little Tennessee River, Knoxville, Tennessee, Overhill Cherokee, Snail darter controversy


The increasing availability of spatial data inspires the exploration of previously less-studied, yet regionally and nationally important areas, such as the Irrawaddy and Salween River Basins in Southeast Asia. This article documents our experience using global datasets to create environmental basin profiles in these two basins. Our approach draws on the concepts of freshwater vulnerability assessments that guided the selection of indicators. Data on land use, population distribution and fertilizer load were used. The unit of analysis was chosen to distinguish areas with similar bio-geographical characteristics, such as the critical delta areas. Results were further discussed for sub-areas that experience relatively the most pressure in terms of examined indicators within the studied area. The river mouths of both rivers had the most intensive land use and high population density. They are also home to important ecosystems and are sensitive to changes in upstream areas. Our study presents a concise and spatially distributed view of the environmental basin profiles of the Irrawaddy and Salween River Basins. The analysis also provides some interesting methodological insights about the potential of public macro-scale datasets for environmental assessment. The spatial approach allowed the analysis of different indicators, providing a platform for data integration as well as a visually powerful overview of the study area. Yet, the use of macro-scale datasets entails challenges. Despite improvements, the assessment process tends to be driven by the availability and quality of data, rather than by the actual research and management needs. The greatest utility of macro-scale datasets lies-at least in data-poor areas-in larger scale comparative analyses between the basins and their different sub-areas.

Concepts: Demography, Population, Assessment, River, Population density, Drainage basin, Analysis, Burma


Genetically modified (GM) crops have been and continue to be a subject of controversy despite their rapid adoption by farmers where approved. For the last two decades, an important matter of debate has been their impact on pesticide use, particularly for herbicide-tolerant (HT) crops. Some claim that these crops bring about a decrease in herbicide use, while others claim the opposite. In fact, since 1996, most cultivated GMOs have been GMHT crops, which involve the use of an associated herbicide, generally glyphosate. In their very first years of adoption, HT crops often led to some decrease in herbicide use. However, the repetition of glyphosate-tolerant crops and of glyphosate only applications in the same fields without sufficient alternation and herbicide diversity has contributed to the appearance of glyphosate-resistant weeds. These weeds have resulted in a rise in the use of glyphosate and other herbicides. This article explores this situation and the impacts of herbicide-resistant weeds, using an interdisciplinary approach and drawing on recent data. The paper analyzes the spread of GMHT crops worldwide and their consequences on herbicide use in the USA in particular. It then addresses the global development of glyphosate-resistant weeds and their impact, particularly focusing on the USA. Finally, the last section explores how industry, farmers, and weed scientists are coping with the spread of resistant weeds. The concluding comments deal more widely with trends in GM crops.

Concepts: Agriculture, Pesticide, Abstraction, Genetically modified organism, Weed, Herbicide, Glyphosate, Roundup


Recreational diving on coral reefs is an activity that has experienced rapidly growing levels of popularity and participation. Despite providing economic activity for many developing coastal communities, the potential role of dive impacts in contributing to coral reef damage is a concern at heavily dived locations. Management measures to address this issue increasingly include the introduction of programmes designed to encourage environmentally responsible practices within the dive industry. We examined diver behaviour at several important coral reef dive locations within the Philippines and assessed how diver characteristics and dive operator compliance with an environmentally responsible diving programme, known as the Green Fins approach, affected reef contacts. The role of dive supervision was assessed by recording dive guide interventions underwater, and how this was affected by dive group size. Of the 100 recreational divers followed, 88 % made contact with the reef at least once per dive, with a mean (±SE) contact rate of 0.12 ± 0.01 per min. We found evidence that the ability of dive guides to intervene and correct diver behaviour in the event of a reef contact decreases with larger diver group sizes. Divers from operators with high levels of compliance with the Green Fins programme exhibited significantly lower reef contact rates than those from dive operators with low levels of compliance. The successful implementation of environmentally responsible diving programmes, which focus on influencing dive industry operations, can contribute to the management of human impacts on coral reefs.

Concepts: Coral, Coral reef, Scleractinia, Cnidaria, Coastal and oceanic landforms, Underwater diving, Scuba diving, Underwater