Biodiversity

Healthy, productive and resilient marine ecosystems are essential to us as they provide economic, scientific, environmental, cultural and ecological benefits to the global human population. Each species has a vital role to play and altering this balance can have serious and sometimes unforeseen implications for the functioning, productivity and ability to withstand stress of the entire ecosystem.

Intensifying pressures from resource exploitation, habitat destruction, pollution and climate change are driving widespread declines in marine biodiversity. We are using our expertise to measure and investigate biodiversity across a range of biological scales, and explore the ecological processes and interactions that support biologically diverse and productive marine ecosystems. This will enable us to understand how and why marine ecosystems change through space and time and what drives their resilience or sensitivity to environmental stress.

Our research is also expanding understanding of the links between biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and the huge range of services and benefits that we derive from marine ecosystems, ranging from food provision to climate regulation and recreational opportunities.

Making a difference

Before we can identify the impact of human activities on marine ecosystems we first need to appreciate the extent to which marine biodiversity, community structure and ecosystem processes vary naturally through space and time. PML scientists are expanding this knowledge-base which will increase our ability to predict and ameliorate the consequences of human impacts on the marine environment and potentially help to incorporate the economic value of biodiversity into mainstream decision-making.

Projects

National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) - Carbon Cycles
Completed

National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) - Carbon Cycles

Contact: Professor Icarus Allen

The goal of the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) project is to understand physical and biological processes involving the carbon cycle,...

ChAOS

The Changing Arctic Ocean Seafloor (ChAOS) - how changing sea ice conditions impact biological communities, biogeochemical processes and ecosystems

Contact: Professor Steve Widdicombe

The ChAOS project will focus on how climate change and diminishing sea ice affects impact biological communities, biogeochemical processes and...

CAMPUS

Combining Autonomous observations and Models for Predicting and Understanding Shelf seas

Contact: Dr Stefano Ciavatta

CAMPUS is a three-year project (2018–2021), funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, combining state-of-the-art computer modelling...

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You may be interested in...

News

Generous donation new apprentice

​PML is delighted to announce the arrival of a new apprentice, Thomas Mesher, who is embarking on training to gain the experience and knowledge necessary for a career in marine science.

News

Ocean acidification study offers warnings for marine life habitats

Acidification of the world's oceans could drive a cascading loss of biodiversity in some marine habitats, according to research published this week in Nature Climate Change with contributions from PML.

News

Cold-water corals

The longest-ever simulation of future ocean conditions shows that the skeletons of deep-sea corals change shape and become 20-30% weaker, putting oases of deep-sea biodiversity at risk.

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Selected key publications

Clarke KR, Gorley RN, Somerfield PJ, Warwick, RM. 2014. Change in marine communities: an approach to statistical analysis and interpretation, 3rd edn. PRIMER-E, Plymouth. 256 pp.

Somerfield PJ, Warwick RM. 2013. Meiofauna Techniques. Chapter 6 in: Eleftheriou A (ed) Methods for the study of Marine Benthos, 4th Edn. Wiley-Blackwell Ltd, Oxford. pp 253-284.

Gilbert JA, Steele JA, Caporaso JG, Steinbrück L, Reeder J, Temperton B, Huse S, McHardy A, Knight R, Joint IR, Somerfield P, Fuhrman JA, Field D. 2012. Defining seasonal marine microbial community dynamics. ISME Journal 6: 298-308.

Magurran AE, Baillie SR, Buckland ST, Dick JMcP, Elston DA, Scott EMS, Smith RI, Somerfield PJ, Watt A. 2010. Long-term datasets in biodiversity research and monitoring: assessing change in ecological communities through time. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 25: 574-582.

Clarke KR, Somerfield PJ, Gorley RN. 2008. Testing of null hypotheses in exploratory community analyses: similarity profiles and biota-environment linkage. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 366:56-69.

Claudet J, Osenberg CW, Benedetti-Cecchi L, Domenici P, García-Charton JA, Pérez-Ruzafa A, Badalamenti F, Bayle-Sempere J, Bulleri F, Culioli J-M, Dimech M, Falcón JM, Guala I, Milazzo M, Sánchez-Meca J, Somerfield PJ, Stobart B, Vandeperre F, Planes S. 2008. Marine reserves: size does matter. Ecology Letters 11: 481-489.

Nagelkerken I, Blaber S, Bouillon S, Green P, Haywood M, Kirton LG, Meynecke J-O, Pawlik J, Penrose HM, Sasekumar A, Sivasothi N, Somerfield PJ. 2008. The habitat function of mangroves for terrestrial and marine fauna: a review. Aquatic Botany 89: 155-185.

Clarke KR, Somerfield PJ, Chapman MG. 2006. On resemblance measures for ecological studies, including taxonomic dissimilarities and a zero-adjusted Bray-Curtis measure for denuded assemblages. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 330: 55-80.

Warwick RM, Platt HM, Somerfield PJ. 1998. Freeliving marine nematodes. Part III. Monhysterids. Synopses of the British Fauna (New Series) No. 53. Field Studies Council, Shrewsbury, UK. 296pp.