Coastal eutrophication research: A new awareness

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69 Scopus citations


An analysis of the contents and conclusions of the papers contained in this issue (Hydrobiologia Volume xxx) suggests that a new vision is taking shape that may correspond to an emerging new paradigm in the way we understand and manage coastal eutrophication. This new paradigm emphasizes its global dimension and the connections with other global environmental pressures, and re-evaluates the targets of remedial actions and policies. Eutrophication research must evolve toward a more integrative, ecosystem perspective which requires that it be extended to include impacts beyond primary producers and to examine possible cascading effects and feedbacks involving other components of the ecosystem. A quantitative framework that incorporates the interacting top-down and bottom-up effects in eutrophication models must be urgently developed to guide diagnostics and establish targets to mitigate coastal eutrophication. The required macroscopic view must also be extended to the managerial and policy frameworks addressing eutrophication, through the development of policies that examine activities in the environment in an integrative, rather than sectorial, manner. Recent evidence of complex responses of coastal ecosystems to nutrient reduction requires that management targets, and the policies that support them, be reconsidered to recognize the complexities of the responses of coastal ecosystems to reduced nutrient inputs, including non-linear responses and associated thresholds. While a predictive framework for the complex trajectories of coastal ecosystems subject to changes in nutrient inputs is being developed, the assessment of managerial actions should be reconsidered to focus on the consideration of the status achieved as the outcome of nutrient reduction plans against that possibly derived from a 'do nothing' scenario. A proper assessment of eutrophication and the efforts to mitigate it also requires that eutrophication be considered as a component of global change, in addressing both its causes and its consequences, and that the feedbacks between other components of global change (e.g., climate change, overfishing, altered biogeochemical cycles, etc.) be explicitly considered in designing eutrophication research and in managing the problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-269
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This is a contribution to the THRESHOLDS and WISER project, funded by the FP6 and FP7 programs of the EU (contracts # 003933-2 and 226273, respectively). I thank the guest editors of this issue (Jesper H. Andersen and Daniel J. Conley) for the invitation to the conference and to contribute this article.


  • Coastal ecosystems
  • Eutrophication
  • Global change
  • Management targets
  • Nutrient
  • Oligotrophication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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