Special symposia proposed for the 5th WCMB 2020

1.     Genetic biodiversity hotspots along the Southern Ocean and adjacent coastlines

2.     OBIS celebrates 20 years. The power of integrated data

3.     Molecular tools at the service of coral reef conservation

4.     Bringing deep-ocean biodiversity knowledge to ocean policy

5.     New approaches to biodiversity assessment from environmental DNA

6.     Benthic biogeochemistry, biodiversity and ecosystem function in macrofaunal-microbial interactions

7.     Analysing marine biodiversity data – methods and insights

8.     Lessons from Marine Protected Areas


Genetic biodiversity hotspots along the Southern Ocean and adjacent coastlines

Organizers: Jonathan Waters, Ceridwen Fraser, Ester Serrão eserrao@ualg.pt

The present genetic biodiversity along the Southern Ocean and adjacent water masses has been shaped by the oceanographic and climatic effects on changing sea level, habitat suitability and transport by currents and winds. These mediate the connectivity and isolation of populations across land masses (islands and continental edges) that over time have formed persistent or intermittent suitable habitats for marine species with cold / cold-temperate affinities. This special session will review the evidence of such effects from the climate past on present-day population differentiation and genetic biodiversity hotspots for marine species ranging from algae to vertebrates, along the Southern Ocean and adjacent water masses. Modeling marine species distributions and oceanographic connectivity for future scenarios will reveal predictions for the future of southern genetic biodiversity hotspots. By using very distinct biological models, from kelp forests to seabirds, and comparing spatial distributions of important conservation hotspots across these, we hope to reach a broad overview for marine conservation that is more than the sum of the isolated approaches per biological group. Such as how the common recent climatic past and oceanographic variations might have led to similarities in evolutionary trends/present biodiversity and to what extent these might be more driven by distinct biological traits.

OBIS celebrates 20 years. The power of integrated data

Organiser: Ward Appeltans w.appeltans@unesco.org

Playing a central role in fostering data sharing of marine species observations for 20 years, the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS) (formerly Ocean Biogeographic Information System) has built the world’s most comprehensive database (including around 59 million distribution records) on the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in the ocean. After two decades of OBIS, we want to reflect on its achievements, shortcomings, and progresses assessing our performance and improving our services, including the various OBIS tools and products. During this session, we invite contributions to illustrate how OBIS has been used in a multitude of ways (in taxonomy, biogeography, biodiversity indicators, area-based management, climate change research, science-policy assessment, etc), but also look ahead and identify challenges and opportunities for OBIS to respond to new demands for ocean data and information services. In response to the urgent needs imposed by our changing planet, this session will highlight OBIS as a critical component in accelerating the pace of scientific exploration and discovery. Discussions and outcomes from this session will contribute to global and regional efforts to build a sustained, globally coordinated observing system on the status and trends of marine biodiversity and habitats.

Molecular tools at the service of coral reef conservation

Organisers: Susana Carvalho susana.carvalho@kaust.edu.sa, Laura Gajdzik, Eva Aylagas

Anthropogenic activities coupled with global climate change exert immense pressure on marine ecosystems. In particular, coral reefs, supporting more than 25% of the global marine biodiversity, are especially threatened. If not rectified, human and natural disturbances will significantly compromise their integrity and the delivery of critical ecosystem services (e.g., food provisioning, coastal protection). During this session we will explore the potential of molecular tools to gauge the extent of coral reef degradation and mitigate its effects in a timely fashion. We will discuss the application of different DNA-based methods to support coral reef conservation, showcase the cutting-edge molecular-based techniques applied worldwide for a better understanding of coral reef biodiversity and functioning (e.g., variability patterns of reef-associated organisms from genes to communities), investigate the potential of molecular tools to enhance reef resilience (e.g. marine probiotics), and discuss the future direction on molecular-based coral-reef research.

Bringing deep-ocean biodiversity knowledge to ocean policy

Organisers: Maria Baker mb11@noc.soton.ac.uk, Ashley Rowden & Malcolm Clark

The deep ocean is at the centre of much current discussion about management of fisheries, seabed minerals, climate change, and conservation in general.  2020 is a pivotal year in terms of the formation of global level regulations for managing the biodiversity of our deep oceans in areas beyond national jurisdiction as well as in national waters.  Deep seabed mining, fisheries, marine genetic resources, hydrocarbon extraction, exploitation of deep-sea space (e.g. disposal, cables) and the effects of climate change in the deep ocean are all key topics that we hope will addressed in this session. We expect the session will indicate effective links between scientific knowledge, the development of ocean policy, and application to robust biodiversity management in the deep ocean. We propose to end the session with a talk outlining the Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative’s contribution to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development in an effort to engage this diverse audience in future plans for deep-sea science.

New approaches to biodiversity assessment from environmental DNA

Organisers: Luke E. Holman L.E.Holman@soton.ac.uk, Eva Aylagas, Marc Rius, Owen S. Wangensteen, Anastasija Zaiko.

Against a backdrop of ever-growing threats to marine ecosystems, and looking forward into the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), it is essential to equip researchers with efficient and precise tools to capture and understand changes in marine biodiversity. One pragmatic approach that has emerged in the last decade is the detection of genetic material isolated from environmental samples (hereafter eDNA) such as sediment or seawater to infer species incidence to the sampling location. This session aims to showcase eDNA research across the wide variety of studies that focus on marine biodiversity. This session will explore eDNA studies profiling novel approaches to understand patterns of marine biodiversity, discuss how functional and genetic biodiversity can be inferred using molecular approaches and species traits, present new methods for efficient sampling of marine ecosystems, as well as better harnessing the opportunities that high throughput sequencing technologies and automatization can provide. We welcome delegates interested in all aspects of DNA based marine biodiversity monitoring and encourage proposals for short (~10 mins) presentations.

Benthic biogeochemistry, biodiversity and ecosystem function in macrofaunal-microbial interactions

Organisers: Rachel Hale Rachel.Hale@niwa.co.nz, Alexis Marshall, Bonnie Laverock.

Macrofaunal activity in marine sedimentary environments mediates key ecosystem processes. Animals construct burrows increasing the sediment surface area available for colonisation, redistribute fluids introducing more oxygenated water below the sediment-water interface and mix sediment particles increasing the oxygenated volume of sediment. This facilitates the increased abundance and activity of microbes within the sedimentary environment. Knowledge of the relationships between macrofaunal activity and microbial diversity and abundance on the small scale is required to understand biogeochemical processes at the regional level and the ecological consequences of changes to these relationships are not yet predictable. We invite talks on holistic approaches to the ecology and biogeochemistry of benthic ecosystems looking at the underpinning mechanisms by which macrofauna-microbial relationships are established, how they function, and how they respond to their environment.

Analysing marine biodiversity data – methods and insights

Organisers: Marti J. Anderson marti@primer-e.co.nz, Paul J. Somerfield and Adam N. H. Smith

Biodiversity has many facets. Species are not just identified by a name, they have a genetic history, a biogeographic context; they are comprised of dynamic populations and a physical form, displaying behaviours, interacting with one another and taking functional and economic roles in ecosystems. Modern methods acknowledge multi-faceted biodiversity and incorporate genetic, morphological, spatial, historical and functional aspects of species to better embrace a broader ecological reality. In this session, we will explore the tools used for analysing marine biodiversity and the insights that come from them. Our focus will be on methods that highlight the characteristics of species, their functional and evolutionary potential, inter-species relationships, and the responses of species to their environment, to quantify changes through time and space in multi-species complexes. What are the pitfalls and shortcomings of extant methods? Rapid changes in climate and environmental conditions demand immediate attention towards thoughtful advances in ecological science and statistics.

Lessons from Marine Protected Areas

Organisers: Tamlin Jefferson tjef631@aucklanduni.ac.nz, Lucy Jacob, Nathan Fedrizzi, Mark Costello

The IUCN recommends that in efforts to achieve a fully sustainable ocean, 30% of all marine habitats be set aside in Marine Protected Areas (MPA), subject to the rights of indigenous people and local communities. Over 160 countries

The IUCN recommends that in efforts to achieve a fully sustainable ocean, 30% of all marine habitats be set aside in Marine Protected Areas (MPA), subject to the rights of indigenous people and local communities. Over 160 countries have agreed to use the ocean sustainably under UNCLOS, close to 200 countries are party to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals and a similar number have ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity. Aotearoa New Zealand developed the Marine Reserve Act in 1971 and created the first Marine Reserve in 1975. Aotearoa now has 44 marine reserves, covering only 0.4% of the EEZ (a WCMB fieldtrip will visit two reserves). Other parts of the world such as the Coral Triangle and the Pacific Islands have hundreds of MPAs and some Pacific Islands have created very large protected areas, within the majority of their entire Exclusive Economic Zones, championed by indigenous communities. Hundreds of papers are published annually about marine protection, yet only about 2.5% of the ocean is in areas that aim to be fully protected from human impacts. Given the multiple, cumulative and interacting threats facing our ocean today, we need to better understand why the level of protection is not higher and what we can do about it. This symposium invites presentations on the science and socio-political issues around MPA development, success and management. What lessons can be learned that can help us to achieve a greater level of effective marine protection?

WCMB 2020 Virtual Conference | 13-15 December 2020


Supporting organisation

Supporting organisation