The need for a volume dealing with the concept of indicator organisms became evident during a symposium on the subject, organised by the present editors for the Southern California Academy of Sciences. Questions were posed about the appropriate uses of indicator organisms and the "rules" governing the application of the indicator concept to particular problems. For example, how does one distinguish true indicators from biological anomalies? What kinds of organisms can appropriately be associated with conditions and events at various scales in time and space? To what extent does one species represent other species in the same environmental setting? Can the indicator concept be applied to the context of modern sampling and analytical technology? How can anthropogenic perturbations be distinguished from natural phenomena? How can unlike matrices from differing databases with differing scales best be matched?
Such questions are especially pertinent in today's research environment. The use of indicator organisms, while certainly not new, is the corner stone for much scientific research. In the past two decades, indicator organisms have played increasingly important roles in the development and implementation of public policy. In particular, indicator organisms are being used to describe local environments and natural or anthropogenic perturbations to them, although there are pitfalls and problems associated with those usages. A growing number of nonbiologists, including physical oceanographers, find indicator organisms helpful, and sometimes essential, to their research.
1 Marine Organisms as Indicators: Reality or Wishful Thinking?
2 The Use of Planktonic Organism Distribution as an Indicator of Physical Variability in Marine Environments
3 Zooplankton: Scales of Biological and Physical Events
4 Plant and Animal Pigments as Trophodynamic Indicators
5 Fish Assemblages as Indicators of Environmental Change in Nearshore Environments
6 Coral Reef Fishes as Indicators of Environmental Stress in Coral Reefs
7 The "Odd Fish": Unusual Occurrences of Marine Life as Indicators of Changing Ocean Conditions
8 Remotely Sensed Ocean Features and Their Relation to Fish Distributions
9 Crustaceans and Other Invertebrates as Indicators of Beach Pollution
10 The Use of Toxicity Testing in Marine Environmental Research
11 Community-Environmental Relationships in the Benthos: Applications of Multivariate Analytical Techniques