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The US National Ocean Policy calls for ecosystem-based management (EBM) of the ocean to help realize the vision advanced in the 2010 Executive Order on the Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes. However, no specific approach for incorporating EBM into planning was provided. We explore how a set of ecological principles and ecosystem vulnerability concepts can be integrated into emerging comprehensive assessment frameworks, including Australia's National Marine Bioregional Assessments, California's Marine Life Protection Act Initiative's regional profiles, Canada's Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated Management Initiative, and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) program, to transition to ecosystem-based ocean planning. We examine NOAA's IEA framework to demonstrate how these concepts could be incorporated into existing frameworks. Although our discussion is focused on US ocean policy, comprehensive ecological assessments are applicable to a wide array of management strategies and planning processes.
Blood transfusion is an indispensable cell therapy. Red blood cell (RBC) transfusion depends on the availability of donor material, and concerns over supply and safety have spurred development of methods to manufacture blood from stem cells. Recent advances have increased excitement about the potential therapeutic production of RBCs ex vivo. Current methods could theoretically yield therapeutic doses of RBCs. However, generation of RBCs in the large numbers required for transfusion remains a significant challenge. In this article, we review the recent progress made in producing RBCs from various cell sources for transfusion purposes and discuss the most compelling issues to be addressed to translate this progress into a clinical-grade transfusion product. It is hoped that ongoing efforts and new technologies for ex vivo erythrocytes generation will provide alternative transfusion products to meet present and future clinical requirements.
Answering large-scale questions in ecology can involve time-consuming data compilation. We show how networks of undergraduate classes can make these projects more manageable and provide an authentic research experience for students. With this approach, we examined the factors associated with plant species richness in US national wildlife refuges. We found that the richness of harmful invasive plants and the richness of native plants were positively correlated in mainland refuges but negatively correlated in island refuges. Nonnative richness and invasive richness were also positively correlated with colonization pressure as indicated by nonnative richness around each refuge. Associations between refuge characteristics and invasive plants varied substantially among regions, with refuge area and habitat diversity important predictors of invasion in some regions but not in others. Our results serve to identify the refuges that are most susceptible to plant invasion and demonstrate the potential value of a new model for education and research integration.
The potential hazards posed by RNA interference (RNAi)—based pesticides and genetically modified crops to nontarget organisms include off-target gene silencing, silencing the target gene in unintended organisms, immune stimulation, and saturation of the RNAi machinery. Nontarget organisms will vary in their exposure to small RNAs produced by genetically modified crops, but exposure to insecticidal small RNAs will probably occur at a previously unrealized scale for many. Areas that warrant future work include the persistence of insecticidal small RNAs in the environment, describing crop-based food webs to understand those species that are most exposed, sequencing genomes for species to proactively understand those that may be affected by RNAi, and substantiating that laboratory toxicity testing can accurately predict the field-level effects of this technology. The costs and benefits of pesticidal RNA must be considered relative to current pest management options as pesticidal RNAs move from a theoretical approach to being used as a practical tool.
Considerable uncertainty surrounds projections of climate change and its ecological consequences. We surveyed 2329 environmental biologists and found that greater expertise is associated with projections of greater climatic change and more severe consequences. The opinions of scientists with greater expertise converge, and they expect larger temperature increases, higher percentages of species extinctions, and a high percentage of species' ranges will change in response to climate change over the next 100 years. Importantly, even the highest of these estimates is at the lower bounds of many published projections of climate change and threats to biodiversity. These findings suggest that experts are relatively conservative and discerning about the magnitude of climate change and its biodiversity effects, but even their conservative estimates are substantial. We suggest that policymakers consult environmental biologists on emerging and controversial issues such as climate change and use transparent, standardized metrics of expertise when deciding which scientists to consult.
It is easier to search the globe for research on the genes of a local plant than it is to find local research on that plant's ecology. As a result, ecologists are often unaware of published local research and unlikely to find relevant studies from similar environments worldwide. Location information in ecological studies can be harnessed to enable geographic knowledge searches and could be standardized to make searches more fruitful. To demonstrate this potential, we developed the Journal Map Web site (www.journalmap.org). Easy access to geographic distributions of knowledge opens new possibilities for using ecological research to detect and interpret ecological patterns, evaluate current ecological knowledge, and facilitate knowledge creation. We call on journals and publishers to support standard reporting of study locations in publications and metadata, and we advocate georeferencing past studies.