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Europe must not lose momentum in marine biodiversity research
Date:11/20/2012

A new Marine Board Future Science Brief presents a roadmap for marine biodiversity science in Europe and warns against complacency.

The ocean provides 95% of the habitable space on Earth and harbours a vast diversity of life. Biodiversity underpins the health of the oceans and their productive ecosystems which are essential for human well-being and prosperity. But marine life is under significant threat from climate change and from increasing human impacts including pollution, overfishing and ocean acidification. Marine biodiversity research and its role in supporting maritime policies and management is the subject of new Future Science Brief from the European Marine Board, entitled: "Marine Biodiversity: A Science Roadmap for Europe."

Europe has a long history of marine biodiversity research. Inventories of marine plants and animals have been compiled for hundreds of years, mainly through the work of scientists working in universities, museums, marine stations and fisheries institutes. More than 33,000 species have now been identified in the seas around Europe, 760 of these since the beginning of this century. At global level, the recently completed Census of Marine Life concluded that we have now identified approximately 240,000 marine species, while current estimates of the total number of living marine species range from 0.7 million to 2.2 million. These figures do not include the microscopic Bacteria or Archaea that likely include millions of different types. In fact our knowledge deficit of microbial communities is particularly acute. The microscopic Archaea, for example, were only classified as a separate domain of life in the late 20th century.

Dr. Kostas Nittis, Chair of the European Marine Board, explains the rationale for a policy paper on marine biodiversity: "in the past ten years many good biodiversity initiatives were funded and we made a lot of progress, but we are still a long way from a comprehensive understanding
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Contact: Niall McDonough
nmcdonough@esf.org
32-059-340-153
European Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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