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Four regional marine biodiversity studies: approaches and contributions to ecosystem-based management
Ellis, S.L.; Incze, L.S.; Lawton, P.; Ojaveer, H.; MacKenzie, B.R.; Pitcher, C.R.; Shirley, T.C.; Eero, M.; Tunnell, J.W.; Doherty, P.J.; Zeller, B.M. (2011). Four regional marine biodiversity studies: approaches and contributions to ecosystem-based management. PLoS One 6(4): e18997.
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Ellis, S.L.
  • Incze, L.S.
  • Lawton, P.
  • Ojaveer, H., more
  • MacKenzie, B.R.
  • Pitcher, C.R.
  • Shirley, T.C.
  • Eero, M.
  • Tunnell, J.W.
  • Doherty, P.J.
  • Zeller, B.M.

    We compare objectives and approaches of four regional studies of marine biodiversity: Gulf of Maine Area Census of Marine Life, Baltic Sea History of Marine Animal Populations, Great Barrier Reef Seabed Biodiversity Project, and Gulf of Mexico Biodiversity Project. Each program was designed as an "ecosystem" scale but was created independently and executed differently. Each lasted 8 to 10 years, including several years to refine program objectives, raise funding, and develop research networks. All resulted in improved baseline data and in new, or revised, data systems. Each contributed to the creation or evolution of interdisciplinary teams, and to regional, national, or international science-management linkages. To date, there have been differing extents of delivery and use of scientific information to and by management, with greatest integration by the program designed around specific management questions. We evaluate each research program's relative emphasis on three principal elements of biodiversity organization: composition, structure, and function. This approach is used to analyze existing ecosystem-wide biodiversity knowledge and to assess what is known and where gaps exist. In all four of these systems and studies, there is a relative paucity of investigation on functional elements of biodiversity, when compared with compositional and structural elements. This is symptomatic of the current state of the science. Substantial investment in understanding one or more biodiversity element(s) will allow issues to be addressed in a timely and more integrative fashion. Evaluating research needs and possible approaches across specific elements of biodiversity organization can facilitate planning of future studies and lead to more effective communication between scientists, managers, and stakeholders. Building a general approach that captures how various studies have focused on different biodiversity elements can also contribute to meta-analyses of worldwide experience in scientific research to support ecosystem-based management.

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