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The EU Network of Excellence MarBEF Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning Carlo Heip General Coordinator

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Presentation on theme: "The EU Network of Excellence MarBEF Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning Carlo Heip General Coordinator"— Presentation transcript:

1 The EU Network of Excellence MarBEF Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning Carlo Heip General Coordinator

2 MarBEF Consortium 56 member Institutes and 36 associated institutes

3 What? A consortium of 56 member and 35 associated member institutes and organizations in 24 countries Covering the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the Balthic Sea, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Over 700 marine scientists involved Covering all coastal EU countries

4 Why? Basic knowledge is missing – What marine biodiversity exists in Europe? – What are the hot spots of European marine biodiversity? – How do they change over time? We need that knowledge – To understand how the oceans work. – To develop ecosystem based management of living resources – To underpin nature conservation strategies

5 Results: A few Highlights Marine Biodiversity is increasing in European Waters Regional approaches are needed to support the EC Marine and Water Framework Policy Over 31,000 marine species now known from European Waters.

6 Marine Biodiversity is Increasing in European Waters Despite increasing pressure from overfishing, habitat destruction and pollution, there are strong indications that marine biodiversity (species richness) on the whole is increasing in European waters This is due to invading species and to a general northward movement of marine species due to climate change The long term impacts of these changes for the stability and resilience of marine ecosystems is not known. Their study will require better observations and new experimental approaches.

7 Overexploitation leads to decreasing numbers of top predators. Example: Bluefin Tuna caught in the North Sea UK 1933 (upper two) Denmark (lower) The species has now disappeared completely. (MacKenzie and Myers, 2007)

8 Species richness Fish Species Richness in the North Sea has strongly increased over time o Small southern species increase o Large northern species decrease their range

9 More species in the Arctic lowers productivity of the foodweb Over the last few years temperature in northern waters has increased (fig. 1.) In warmer waters the plankton is more numerous but smaller and richer in species (fig.2.) The increase in species richness decreases the productivity of the food web (more energy is needed to maintain lower trophic levels) (fig.3.) The highest levels of the food web (birds, seals, polar bears) therefore decrease in abundance.

10 Fig. 1. Water temperatures in the Arctic are increasing (Walczowski et al. 2007)

11 Fig. 2. At higher temperatures more but smaller plankton species occur temperature years

12 Fig.3. Rising biodiversity in the Arctic may threat higher trophic levels

13 Lessepsian Migration has changed the Mediterranean The number of species from the Red Sea entering the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal (Lessepsian Migration) continues to increase. Biological communities especially in the Eastern Med have greatly changed accordingly.

14 Left: Sparisoma cretense: southern species moving northward in the Mediterranean Right: Rhopilema nomadica: jellyfish originating from the Red Sea, now a pest species in the Eastern Mediterranean (courtesy Nando Boero)

15 Which species matter? Unique experiments and analyses of biological communities from different coastal areas covering different habitats all over Europe have shown that the response of ecosystems to disturbance is not uniform Removal of key species does not always affect stability of the ecosystem The results show that effects depend on where, when and what species is removed Only in the case of invading species removal resulted in increasing stability Therefore the regional approach advocated in the Water Framework and Marine Directive is fully justified

16 Over marine species now known from European waters The European Register of Marine Species (including only plants and animals) grew with 1,371 species since The list now totals 31,455 marine species in Europe, which makes this the best known continent thanks to efforts of hundreds of taxonomists and ecologists. More than 136 plant and animal species found since 2006 are new to science, but in the microbial domain the number of new species has grown exponentially.

17 New species for science Marbefia a new genus of copepod (Crustaceans) from the North Sea.

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