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2 Criteria for a Successful NPRB Science Plan T he purpose of any science plan is to provide an opportunity for careful thought about the mission and goals of the program and to serve as a guide for the program's managers and participants. Thus, this effort by the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) to develop a science plan early in its formation is to be commended. The planning process is important because it will help the NPRB establish clear policies for the maintenance, development, and review of all its activities. ELEMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL SCIENCE PLAN The following elements have been identified as essential to any success- ful plan and thus to the NPRB: · clearly defined scientific goals that recognize the needs for ecologi- cal modeling, integrated physical and biological monitoring, social and economic studies, and sampling on the wide range of space-time scales that affect marine ecosystems; · clearly defined program management policies that provide for a stable funding base and management infrastructure, allow for flexibility in program design and periodic program review, and outline fair and consistent review and grant award procedures; · an effective data management and dissemination strategy; · coordination with existing programs; · development of applications that are useful to decision makers and stakeholders; and 26
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CRITERIA FOR A SUCCESSFUL NPRB SCIENCE PLAN 27 · recognition of the importance of public interaction, community involvement, and use of traditional knowledge. Similar sets of elements have been adopted in other programs--for example, the U.S. Global Ocean Observing Systems program (Weisberg et al., 2000) and A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska (NRC, 2002). Each of these elements is discussed in Chapters 3-5 in relation to the goals of the NPRB. PROGRAM-SPECIFIC COMPONENTS Given its understanding of the legislation that established the NPRB and its assigned mission and the needs identified by various stakeholders, the committee has identified a number of program-specific components that can be used as a framework for the NPRB Science Plan. These include the overriding conceptual foundation, long-term studies, short-term process and technology development studies, modeling studies, range- of-measurement scales, an interdisciplinary approach, and geographic constraints. Conceptual Foundation The overriding goal or conceptual foundation is critical to the success of a long-term science program such as the one being planned by the NPRB. The overarching goal provides a rationale for the program and a signature that will identify the program. It will provide thematic guidance for the selection of process and monitoring studies to be undertaken, as well as some stability of purpose over time. It is within this framework that the more specific objectives of the research find their broader relevance. A clear goal or foundation is also needed to buffer long-term objectives of the research program from the short-term demands of the day. In the case of the NPRB, the conceptual foundation must be specific enough to guide the first years of its research and monitoring program, but general enough to remain relevant over the longer term to provide the science needed to respond to new and unforeseen management issues and technology development and to accommodate increased understand- ing of the ecosystem and its components. No one can hope to anticipate the taxa, species, or issues that will emerge as critical to the development of public policy over the coming decades. Therefore, on a decadal time scale, it is inevitable and desirable that the conceptual foundation evolve with the development of new theory and the integration of research findings.
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28 ELEMENTS OF A SCIENCE PLAN FOR THE NPRB The overarching goal will no doubt bear some resemblance to the mission statement of the NPRB (Box ES-2), but it should be developed carefully with respect not only to the enabling legislation of the NPRB, but also to the overarching goals of other programs that focus on marine ecosystem research in order to produce a unique identity. For example, the Gulf of Alaska Ecosystem Monitoring (GEM) program, which is more limited in geographic extent, is based on a conceptual foundation that recognizes (1) that ecosystems are interconnected and must be studied as such and (2) that human impacts and climate are the two most important factors affecting ecosystems (NRC, 2002). The Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) program, which is more extensive in geographic extent, is based on understanding the structure and functioning of the global ocean ecosystem and its response to physical forcing, with the aim of developing the ability to forecast the responses of the marine ecosystem to global change http://www.pml.ac.uk/globec/main.htm. Long-Term Studies A commitment to long-term time-series observations is an essential research investment. The NPRB has a relatively stable funding structure that will permit the establishment and support of long-term studies without interruption. Such studies would provide an increased under- standing of the response of marine ecosystems to human impacts and environmental change and variability. The NPRB Science Plan should contain a long-term (i.e., multidecade) research program. This long-term perspective will be one of the strengths of the program, given that long- term measurements are needed to detect ecosystem change and to make inferences about the reasons for that change. The NPRB thus has the opportunity to participate in research that will be of fundamental impor- tance in this century. Long-term research, including modeling and monitoring, will be critical to the NPRB's ability to clarify the relative influence of human activities and natural variability on ecosystem goods and services. There is continuing intense public debate surrounding the relative impacts of human activities (e.g., fishing, climate change) and natural environmental variability on the dynamics of single species, groups of species, or broader taxa. For example, in the North Pacific, attempts to determine the causes of the dramatic decline in the number of Steller sea lions over several decades serve to underscore the social and economic significance of these debates (NRC, 2003b). We simply cannot hope to understand, resolve, or mitigate these issues without a long-term commitment to physical and biological research and their integration through comprehensive model- ing and analytical methods.
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CRITERIA FOR A SUCCESSFUL NPRB SCIENCE PLAN 29 Short-Term Process and Technology-Development Studies Although the need for long-term studies is clear, the NPRB will also have to support shorter-term (e.g., two to five years) hypothesis-driven research aimed at understanding the processes that underlie observed changes in the components of marine ecosystems and fisheries. The NPRB should benefit from technological advances, that increase the quality and/or amount of data and may reduce the cost of collecting long-term measurements. Given the large geographic scope of NPRB's mandate, the NPRB must consider funding studies introducing new technology, but these must be balanced with shorter-term research projects and with the longer-term goals of the program. However, these must be strategic decisions, because there will be little benefit in starting new time-series studies only to suspend measurements after a few years. Modeling Studies The development of ocean, sea-ice, and ecosystem models could be a critical part of NPRB research activities. For one thing, such models are essential for identifying the basic processes that determine the region's ocean circulation, sea-ice formation and retreat, and biogeochemistry. For another, they offer a means of "interpolation" among scattered and scarce data sources, thereby providing a more complete large-scale and long- term picture of physical and biological setting for the region. Models that allow integration and synthesis of observations are now an integral part of many observational programs, especially those limited by temporal (e.g., sea-ice cover), spatial (covering large areas), and geographical access (e.g., political boundaries) or by the availability of funds. Finally, in order to maximize gains from long- and short-term observational studies, model- ing of past-through-present (i.e., the last few decades for which data exist to compare with model output) ecological conditions is needed. Model results validated with data from research will provide insights on recent ecosystem variability and will aid decision-making processes. A coordi- nated approach for modeling and data collection would facilitate an improved predictability of the effects of ecosystem change in the region. Range of Measurement Scales Often, little attention is paid to the spatial and temporal differences between physical and biological measurements. Development of an understanding of the ecosystems of the North Pacific and the fisheries they support will require large-scale biological and physical monitoring, modeling, and process studies. Physical measurements, usually gathered
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30 ELEMENTS OF A SCIENCE PLAN FOR THE NPRB by electronic sensors, are often more easily obtained. Biological and chemical measurements, with the exception of in vivo bulk chlorophyll, are usually obtained by the slower process of direct observation and analysis, but this is changing with the development of advanced data- logging and satellite observations. Models coupling the two must deal with parameters obtained on different temporal and spatial scales. Interdisciplinary Approach An interdisciplinary approach will assist in developing a basic under- standing of processes structuring the North Pacific, Bering Sea, and Arctic marine ecosystems (Box ES-1). Researchers in the fields of physics, biol- ogy, chemistry, economics, and sociology, among others, have the poten- tial to make unique contributions if they collaborate from the outset, jointly developing research ideas and an interdisciplinary (as opposed to simply multidisciplinary) approach to hypothesis testing, data collection, analysis, and modeling. The NPRB should encourage interdisciplinary monitoring to link the forcing (physical monitoring) with the effects (biological, geochemical, contaminant). A number of advantages derived can be from interdisciplinary research, including focusing attention on primary issues; pooling knowledge and resources; broadening interest and support; accommodating both short-term and long-term research plans; and promoting the cost-effectiveness of research. Although not all research activities require interaction across disciplines, in many cases it is more efficient to couple physical and biological sensors onto one plat- form. However, activities such as modeling and process studies, aimed at elucidating mechanisms, will require a high degree of interdisciplinary collaboration and cooperation. Geographic Constraints Because the area included in the legislation is so vast, the NPRB Science Plan should include more limited definitions of the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans. For the purposes of this report, the term "North Pacific" includes only that portion of the North Pacific Ocean that lies within the subarctic gyre, north of the central gyre. For the same reason, studies in the Arctic Ocean should be focused on a more limited region, for example, the East Siberian Sea, the Chukchi Sea, and the Beaufort Sea. This should not preclude studying the effects of terrigenous input, studies of species that migrate across these boundaries, or studies of species that would best be served by comparison across boundaries. During difficult periods, species retreat to the centers of their ranges, and so should the NPRB. When income from the trust is low, the pro-
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CRITERIA FOR A SUCCESSFUL NPRB SCIENCE PLAN 31 gram should retreat to core scientific questions (to be determined by the Science Panel) and, if financially necessary, focus its short-term process studies there. A possible core area is the Bering Sea because it supports a large fishery and can be studied as an entire ecosystem. Long-term studies, of course, should be maintained as a high priority independent of geographic region. Conversely, during periods of higher than average income, the NPRB could consider short-term comparative studies outside of the region that can place high-latitude results in a larger context.
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