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A rationale is presented for making research and monitoring interdependent to maximize the contributions of both activities to environmental management. Emphasis is placed upon better choices of temporal and spatial scales of marine assessments, thereby improving managerial guidance from monitoring and research. While appropriate scales are functions of particular environmental issues, the most useful scales “in the mean” appear to be long-term (including truly historical) and regional. The likelihood in the near-term of only limited incremental advances in understanding ecosystem processes, with marginal improvements in predictability, leads to an argument for more emphasis upon the use of managerially helpful, necessarily simple models. One such model is presented, to characterize the geographical prevalence of fin erosion in winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus), relative to the sources of plausible causes, from Canada to Delaware Bay. Changing emphasis from laboratory bioassays to field population-level effects is an important and essential step toward integrating ecosystem-level knowledge into the managerial and regulatory milieu.
It is now possible to quantify the geographic and, at least recent, temporal associations among man's waste sources and some of their biological effects. Further elaboration of source-fate-effects understanding with the help of simple models (for example, indices) is often more useful to managers than is detailed, piecemeal quantification of seemingly intractable ecosystem dynamics.
Chesapeake Bay, New York region, monitoring, waste management, marine ecosystems, marine resources, indices, environmental quality
Ecologist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Rockville, MD
Research ecologist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Research Laboratory, Gulf Breeze, FL