Future marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning research issues
The European Network of Excellence on Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning (MarBEF) has, over the past five years of its existence, moulded a scientific community that has never been so conceptually and operationally united and productive. However, marine science is still developing and we still understand the ocean less than the terrestrial environment. For us, the oceans are foreign habitats which we may enter but not yet inhabit.
MarBEF scientists have focused on and identified many critical marine biodiversity issues, which are now much clearer than before, but MARBEF has also revealed areas of weakness that require concentrated effort. These are as follows:
- The impacts of global climate change
- Comprehensive datasets
- Synergy of Anthropogenic impacts to global warming
Impacts of global climate change
Although there is now strong evidence for changes in the global climate, the medium term and long-term effects on the marine environment are still open to debate. Marine systems, from Seapolar ice to coral reefs, represent charismatic systems which are highly vulnerable to temperature, sea-level and storm frequency changes. Evidence of migrational response to climate from the examination of marine population distributions are accumulating and act as an early warning of the nature of community alteration in the face of global change scenarios. Studies of modifications to ecosystem variation and functionality resulting from climate change must remain of the highest priority over the coming ten years. Some of these studies require long-term databases that are now recognised as being highly valuable and important to maintain.