News media and fisheries-independent data reveal hidden impacts of hurricanes


Climate change will likely intensify hurricane activity in coastal regions. A thorough understanding of hurricane impacts to marine fauna is necessary to prepare for and mitigate potential impacts to social systems dependent upon adjacent fauna. Yet, research attention, conservation funding, and policy all can be biased toward taxa of societal interest, potentially favoring a limited understanding of hurricane impacts. Here, we analyzed the frequency of mentions of taxa in newspaper articles in relation to hurricane activity at three coastal US locations coupled with analysis of long-term fisheries-independent data. While economically important taxa dominate media discourse, we observed long-term hurricane-related abundance declines in ecologically important taxa having little direct human utility. We conclude that there is a potential for research and policy biases related to hurricane impacts. Preparation and mitigation efforts will benefit from researchers and managers making directed efforts to identify and incorporate hurricane sensitive taxa into their work.

Stephen F. Jane
Kayla M. Smith
Dana Baker, Duke University
Allison Saroni
Emma Cutler, Dartmouth College
Paul Carvalho

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