Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a major issue in all kinds of water systems worldwide, as they exhibit dangerous characteristics that can eventually cause an ecological or economic imbalance to the ecosystem they would thrive in; an example of which is oxygen depletion. They are caused by various environmental changes brought about by mankind’s activities; including climate change, altercation of oceanographic conditions, translocation of native species, and eutrophication – the enrichment of excessive unnecessary and unwanted environmental nutrients, usually in aquatic ecosystems.
Prominent species responsible for these HABs are identified to be from the major algal and cyanobacterial taxa. However, notwithstanding their rich diversity, most species employ similar strategies in terms of guaranteeing maximum growth, development, and reproduction; even responding to similar stimuli, including certain nutrients and environmental factors. Greatest is human vulnerability to HABs in communities that are reliant on fishery resources, in terms of diet and livelihood. Nonetheless, HABs are also responsible for irrefutable damages to tourist industries and the price is almost always health-associated. A lot of significant advancements in researching HABs have been made with regards to monitoring, detection, modeling, forecast, prevention, and treatment of the blooms, thus aiding in the alleviation of health and economic risks. However, because these organisms are so diverse and are still presently poorly understood, minimizing the risks for HAB incidents in the near future will be strenuous and difficult, especially in places where food production and human populations are expected to increase, for this means nutrient fluxes would also increase, thereby possibly leading to eutrophication. A further challenge is figuring out effective communication methods for notification and education of HAB risks to the public and providing efficient and fruitful institutional structures in order to prepare for and promptly respond to future accidents caused by HABs.
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