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PreprintMarine harmful algal blooms, human health and wellbeing : challenges and opportunities in the 21st century( 2015-10-01) Berdalet, Elisa ; Fleming, Lora E. ; Gowen, Richard J. ; Davidson, Keith ; Hess, Philipp ; Backer, Lorraine C. ; Moore, Stephanie K. ; Hoagland, Porter ; Enevoldsen, Henrik O.Microalgal blooms are a natural part of the seasonal cycle of photosynthetic organisms in marine ecosystems. They are key components of the structure and dynamics of the oceans and thus sustain the benefits that humans obtain from these aquatic environments. However, some microalgal blooms can cause harm to humans and other organisms. These harmful algal blooms (HABs) have direct impacts on human health and negative influences on human wellbeing, mainly through their consequences to coastal ecosystem services (valued fisheries, tourism and recreation) and other marine organisms and environments. HABs are natural phenomena, but these events can be favoured by anthropogenic pressures in coastal areas. Global warming and associated changes in the oceans could affect HAB occurrences and toxicity as well, although forecasting the possible trends is still speculative and requires intensive multidisciplinary research. At the beginning of the 21st century, with expanding human populations, particularly in coastal and developing countries, there is an urgent need to prevent and mitigate HABs’ impacts on human health and wellbeing. The available tools to address this global challenge include maintaining intensive, multidisciplinary and collaborative scientific research, and strengthening the coordination with stakeholders, policymakers and the general public. Here we provide an overview of different aspects to understand the relevance of the HABs phenomena, an important element of the intrinsic links between oceans and human health and wellbeing.
ArticleAnthropogenic nutrients and harmful algae in coastal waters(Elsevier, 2014-08-28) Davidson, Keith ; Gowen, Richard J. ; Harrison, Paul J. ; Fleming, Lora E. ; Hoagland, Porter ; Moschonas, GrigoriosHarmful algal blooms (HABs) are thought to be increasing in coastal waters worldwide. Anthropogenic nutrient enrichment has been proposed as a principal causative factor of this increase through elevated inorganic and/or organic nutrient concentrations and modified nutrient ratios. We assess: 1) the level of understanding of the link between the amount, form and ratio of anthropogenic nutrients and HABs; 2) the evidence for a link between anthropogenically generated HABs and negative impacts on human health; and 3) the economic implications of anthropogenic nutrient/HAB interactions. We demonstrate that an anthropogenic nutrient-HAB link is far from universal, and where it has been demonstrated, it is most frequently associated with high biomass rather than low biomass (biotoxin producing) HABs. While organic nutrients have been shown to support the growth of a range of HAB species, insufficient evidence exists to clearly establish if these nutrients specifically promote the growth of harmful species in preference to benign ones, or if/how they influence toxicity of harmful species. We conclude that the role of anthropogenic nutrients in promoting HABs is site-specific, with hydrodynamic processes often determining whether blooms occur. We also find a lack of evidence of widespread significant adverse health impacts from anthropogenic nutrient-generated HABs, although this may be partly due to a lack of human/animal health and HAB monitoring. Detailed economic evaluation and cost/benefit analysis of the impact of anthropogenically generated HABs, or nutrient reduction schemes to alleviate them, is also frequently lacking.