Assessing the impacts / effects of multiple stressors in marine ecosystems in the Anthropocene
There is an urgent concern about increasing human activities and the effects that they have on our planet; one of the most significantly affected by this manifold of stressors are the marine ecosystems. Current approaches to assess the risk of anthropogenic stressors to marine ecosystems are developed for individual stressors. The cumulative impact of several stressors, however, may differ from the impact of them individually, resulting in nonlinear effects and ecological surprises. There are challenges facing the assessment of stressors, and how they affect an impacted ecosystem, based on the complexity of network-based ecosystem levels, the direct and indirect interacts/interconnections between stressors and their affected, response dynamics, and cascading effects. From the lack of assessment methods implementing a cumulative effect of stressors, we address the need for a solution encompassing multiple stressor assessment methods, a water-mill concept if-you-will; an assessment method with the ability for variation and change in an environment that is applicable over a range of spatial and temporal scales. This topic fits into a semester-binding of ''The application of natural science in technology and society'' due to the relative cause and effect connection between a faulty society, its built technologies, and the impacts it has imposed on marine ecosystems. Measurability, sensitivity, scalability, transferability, communicability, and predictability, were the criteria used to judge the methods found within the conducted literature review. A recommended approach towards assessing multiple stressors in the Anthropocene is given in a tiered scheme, where transferability within marine ecosystems is allowed for. This scheme is then applied to a hypothetical case study based in the Great Barrier Reef.