Studies estimate there may be 0.7 to 1.0 million eukaryotic marine species, of which about only 226,000 are described. The EEA State of Nature Report 2013-2018 found a general lack of marine species data that hampers the elaboration of conservation and restoration measures, the sustainable management of ecosystems and, therefore, the achievement of favourable conservation status. For instance, invertebrates supporting the lower level of the food chain or marine mammals are among those species with the highest proportion of unknown assessments (over 78 %). In the deep sea, over 90% of the species may be new to science. Additionally, very little is known about the effects of modern biogenic structures related to feeding types and morphological traits that may play a major role in biogeochemical cycles. Marine biodiversity hotspots in tropical and subtropical shallow areas host species and processes that are yet undescribed. The lack of biodiversity knowledge and appropriate monitoring are critical limiting factors in the definition and implementation of measures, where the range, population size and suitable habitat area are unknown in the majority of Member States and for the majority of vulnerable marine species and ecosystems. The main reasons are the limited access and high cost of explorations of the diversity of biotopes in the vast marine and coastal realm, in particular the deep sea, and the resources available to identify organisms across the full range of sizes (from microorganisms to megafauna).
Acidification, deoxygenation, global warming and climate change, including seasonal patterns, are affecting marine ecosystems faster than terrestrial ecosystems, with their cumulative and long term effects amplifying the unprecedented pressures of the rapidly evolving ocean economy, driven by human needs for food, energy, transportation and recreation, as underlined by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES GA, 2019). The effects have been documented on mobile and habitat building species over the past two decades and reveal an accelerating trend (IPBES GA, IPCC 2019). Many marine species are highly mobile, often migratory and rely on a number of different habitats throughout their developmental stages. In addition, the marine realm hosts numerous species for which sex determination is dependent upon environmental conditions such as temperature, seasonal patterns, and other geochemical parameters. For these species, environmental changes may cause different responses and effects on species populations and related ecosystems functions that are not shown when studying the species indiscriminately of sex and population dynamics.
With so much still unknown, ecosystem processes cannot be fully understood. This weakens models of marine ecosystems and their responses to pressures and diminishes our capacity to predict and take the best measures. Since biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate in Earth’s history, there is an urgent need to take conservation measures and develop holistic ecosystem-based management approaches, so that these ecosystems become resilient to environmental changes and are able to provide services for humankind and the planet’s life support system. For this, it is critical to improve the knowledge and understand and model marine biodiversity as soon as possible. Proposals should address all of the following aspects:
To achieve the expected outcomes, international cooperation is strongly encouraged.Specific Topic Conditions:
Activities are expected to achieve TRL 4-5 by the end of the project – see General Annex B.Cross-cutting Priorities:
The EC Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity (KCBD) is an action of the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030. It aims to enhance the knowledge base, facilitate its sharing and foster cross-sectorial policy dialogue for EU policy making in biodiversity and related fields. https://knowledge4policy.ec.europa.eu/biodiversity_en.
BISE, BiodivERsA, Oppla, NetworkNature and their joint work streams.