Connecting stressors, ocean ecosystem services, and human health



Ocean and coastal ecosystems provide many critical ecosystem services that support human health and well-being including providing food, storm protection, and carbon sequestration. Environmental stressors acting individually or concurrently and synergistically are reducing the ability of coastal ecosystems to provide key ecosystem services that may result in decreases in human health and well-being. We outline some impacts to human health and well-being that may result from the effects on coastal and ocean ecosystem services of five example stressors: rising temperatures, nutrient enrichment, ocean acidification, habitat destruction and the concomitant loss of biodiversity, and extreme weather events. We conclude with suggestions for research and related actions to improve our understanding and management of coastal ecosystems. These include the need for natural and biomedical/public health scientists, and their respective professional organizations, to work together to increase understanding of the connections between healthy and degraded coastal and marine ecosystems and human health, and for policy and decision-makers to account for these impacts when considering trade-offs among management alternatives.