BioMare logo Title image

Up ] Next ]


WP1 Reference sites for marine biodiversity

The information on the selected BIOMARE sites is now adopted and updated within the framework of MarBEF. All the information has been integrated in MarBEF's data system.

  • MarBEF/BIOMARE Sites

  • Leader

    Plymouth Marine Laboratory Plymouth, UK

    Objectives and input to workpackage

    It is clearly not possible to produce comprehensive inventories of biodiversity throughout Europe at a large number of locations which cover the full range of taxa and all hierarchical levels of biodiversity (from genes to species and habitat). We therefore propose a nested approach, to initiate and intensify studies at a small number of reference sites combined with extensive studies at a larger number of sites, where a good background of observation data and inventories already exists. The criteria for the selection of a first series of Primary Sites are 1) they should be pristine: i.e. no natural factors which are likely to depress biodiversity (e.g. increased turbidity and decreased salinity due to river inflows) and no sources of industrial pollution, and 2) they should comprise a mosaic of representative coastal and shallow water habitats. Additionally, it would be advantageous to select sites where a) there is already a body of published information (e.g. a large proportion of the taxa has already been enumerated) and we will supplement published information with data on the more "difficult" and less well-studied taxa, b) the national importance of these areas for marine biology already has been recognised by their high conservation status, and legislation should be in place to ensure their continued protection, c) the infrastructure for biodiversity studies (transport, laboratory space, accommodation) is in place or easily established, and d) research and inventorying of the biota is already supported by a substantial amount of national funding.

    The second series of sites should be directly connected with local marine stations or nearby research institutes which will then have a leading role in the harmonisation of European marine biodiversity research, and may thus function as Reference Sites.

    The members of the Concerted Action will discuss, define criteria and finally select appropriate sites, facilitate contacts to the personnel who are responsible for the various data-sets available, help to standardise and intercalibrate procedures, to organise and establish inventories and data-banks and their accessibility, and to conduct workshops and courses for dissemination of the approach. The ultimate goal is to establish a functioning network of sites for biodiversity research on an encompassing and sustainable basis on the European level.

    Description of work

    Lay the basis, through inventories, meetings and workshops, to:

    • establish the underlying phylogenetic pattern of biodiversity (e.g. the apportionment of species among higher taxa) and whether this varies along latitudinal, longitudinal and environmental (e.g. salinity) gradients within Europe. The venue to achieve this is to identify appropriately situated institutions or European groups of institutes to carry a long lasting responsibility in biodiversity research at both Primary Sites and Reference Sites.
    • develop rapid assessment techniques. A major challenge in marine biodiversity studies within Europe is the need to develop firmer estimates of species numbers and better estimation procedures. One important approach to richness estimation is extrapolation from taxon to taxon, focal group to inclusive group, site to site and sample to inventory, across spatial scales. To calibrate the basis for such an approach requires the establishment of sites with an All-Taxon Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI). To date this has not been achieved, certainly for marine taxa, at any site in the world. Yet ‘surrogate’ methods, based on extrapolating information from intensively studied sites, will become the norm in site assessment, because of the impracticality of routinely attempting isolated comprehensive surveys.
    • develop and calibrate biodiversity measures based on relatively ‘coarse’ data appropriate to the large scales of observation, and produce indices which, unlike species richness, are not strongly dependent on standardised sampling effort. Such indices may include information on trophic groups, distribution of body size, endemicity etc., as well as phylogenetic structure. This links up closely to WP 2.
    • initiate long term observational information to establish patterns of temporal change.

    Website created by EcoServe, now maintained and hosted by VLIZ