• Open Access

Mapping cumulative human impacts to California Current marine ecosystems


Benjamin S. Halpern, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, 735 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA. Tel: +805 892 2531; fax: +805 892 2510. E-mail: halpern@nceas.ucsb.edu


Quantitative assessment of the spatial patterns of all human uses of the oceans and their cumulative effects is needed for implementing ecosystem-based management, marine protected areas, and ocean zoning. Here, we apply methods developed to map cumulative impacts globally to the California Current using more comprehensive and higher-quality data for 25 human activities and 19 marine ecosystems. This analysis indicates where protection and threat mitigation are most needed in the California Current and reveals that coastal ecosystems near high human population density and the continental shelves off Oregon and Washington are the most heavily impacted, climate change is the top threat, and impacts from multiple threats are ubiquitous. Remarkably, these results were highly spatially correlated with the global results for this region (R2= 0.92), suggesting that the global model provides guidance to areas without local data or resources to conduct similar regional-scale analyses.