Legacy: Stressor Interactions

Development of geoinformatic systems to estimate the spatial distribution of human activities interactions

The North Sea is one of the most exploited areas in the world, where the need of using and exploiting natural resources may be combined with nature conservation strategies. 

However, human activities are stressor for ecosystems. For instance, fishing by means of trawling is not simply extracting natural resources but also physically damaging natural habitats.

To reach conseravtion aims, it is necessary that anthropogenic disturbances decrease. For instance, this is key when establishing a marine protected area, where the regulations come to limit human activities within an area to maintain natural components unaltered or to let those recovering from damages happened in the past. 

So far, human activities, as potential stressor on ecosystems, were considered cumulatively (i.e. additive approach), although such stressors actually interact between each other, therefore becoming stronger, in case of positive interaction, or weaker, in case of negative interaction. Our work within WP 4.2 will explore the spatial distribution of negative and positive interactions, assuming that areas of negative interactions may come in support for establishing regulations in the marine spatial plan, whereas areas with positive interactions may provide a risk assessment for endangered habitats and species.