MARine MAnagement and Ecosystem Dynamics under climate change

A fundamental challenge for European Marine Science is to deliver scientific impact, global leadership and sustainable blue growth for Europe in times of overexploitation, climate change and other anthropogenic stressors. The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks MARmaED project makes important steps to answer this challenge by connecting science, policy and people, thus transcending national borders, disciplinary barriers and sectorial divides.

Understanding the complex dynamics of seas and oceans under rapid environmental change with a particular focus on its socio-economic consequences is a key requirement. To answer this challenge, European Marine Science must reinforce its position as a global leader by building a greater knowledge base, by breaking down traditional barriers between scientific disciplines, and by communicating wider awareness of the seas and oceans to the general public. Therefor there is a need for ecosystem-based management of natural resources  and an urgent requirement to increase and modernise the fundamental knowledge on how marine ecosystems are functioning and to propagate this knowledge to society.

In Mai 2015, we were granted by the European Commission an Innovative Training Network MARmaED. MARmaED is an international and interdisciplinary network that unifies specific and complementary competences in marine sciences from Norway (University of Oslo (CEES), University of Bergen), Finland (University of Helsinki, Åbo Akademi University), Denmark (Technical University of Denmark), the Netherlands (Wageningen University), Germany (University of Hamburg) and France (Météo France) to investigate how the cumulative stress from biodiversity loss, climate change and harvesting will affect Europe’s complex marine systems and the consequences for optimal resource management. Our network integrates European education and research in essential disciplines, specifically genetics, ecophysiology, ecology, climatology, physical oceanography, statistics and economics, to achieve new knowledge and improved management of the marine systems. Through targeted secondments in the non-academic sector MARmaED will also be an intersectorial project that provides the network’s students with broad training and strong favourable employment opportunities within the industry and other non-academic sectors. 


Figure 1: showing where the competences of the trained MARmaED Early Stage Researchers (PhD students) will be an asset.

Strong involvement of the non-academic sector.

MARmaED is designed to explore and investigate marine ecosystem change in careful detail from physical and biological effects to economic management implications and is unique in the way it will integrate effect studies with economic perspectives. However, integrating scientific reasoning into policy implementation indeed pose a great challenge. A key element of MARmaED is using the PhDs to create new trans-disciplinary collaborations encouraged by specifically tailored secondments in the non-academic sector. The main objectives and benefits will be for the students to learn the way of working and thinking from the secondment partner (Danish Pelagic Producers’ Organisation, Pelagic Freezer Trawler Association, Institute of Marine Research, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, World Wide Fund For Nature, Marine Stewardship Council, and Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries Norway).

15 PhDs to fill around Europe .

The funded of MARmaED will be used to hire 15 PhD students dispatched between the 8 partner institutions. The aim is to fill simultaneously these positions in order to create a school of student that will collaborate and interact dynamically.

The MARmaED PhD projects are interwoven and will be internationally co-supervised between participating groups. Each student will have a home institute, but will be expected to spend several months working within at least one of the other hosts to develop a component of the project, using data or expertise not available within the home country. Moreover, all projects are developed hand-in-hand across hosts, with students working on complementary projects that require a collaborative exchange. The students will eventually be in a position to create new cross-disciplinary collaborations encouraged by annual training meetings with an explicit aim of combining the different science perspectives. Our students will thus acquire experience in combining physical, biological, and economic aspects of ecosystem-based management while achieving a better understanding of biological and societal impacts of climate change in European marine ecosystems. This will be achieved through a collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach on a scale rarely seen in these fields. Thus, the new generation of researchers emerging from the network will form a school that is expected to have a long-lasting impact on the European and international scientific community as these researchers move through their career.


The importance of the Biodiversity – Ecosystem Functioning relationship for resilience and vulnerability of marine exploited fish populations to climate change and fisheries exploitation


Evaluating the ecosystem and socio-economic context of climate and fishing effects on cod


Economic reference points under climate change


Optimal exploitation of ecosystems


A trait-based approach for predicting fish community structure, function and services under climate change and exploitation


Fisheries reference points & stock assessment


A portfolio approach to operationalize ecosystem based management in European Fisheries


Economic value of enhanced fisheries management procedures


Size-based trophic interaction


Genetic structure of the Northeast arctic cod: impact of climate change?


Benthic food-web structure and function under environmental change


The importance of local habitats for maintaining structural and functional biodiversity in coastal ecosystems


Optimal harvesting under multiple stressors: a bioenergetics model for fishing and climate warming


Limits to northwards range shifts of fish stocks under climate warming


Future climate change scenario uncertainties in European regional seas


Figure 2: The different PhD subjects that will be announced in the following months

Three research axes.

Within the interdisciplinary MARmaED consortium climatologists and oceanographers will provide state-of-the-art coupled ocean-atmosphere models. Ecophysiologists will derive the individual constraints and responses to climate change while geneticists will quantify the genetic connectivity and local adaptation. Modelled and observed environmental data will be combined with biological time-series by ecologists to unravel observed and expected effects of fishing and climate change on populations. Economists will model the economic effects of climate change and provide corresponding management recommendations. Together, ecologists and economists will increase the knowledge necessary to develop ecosystem-based management (EBM) strategies through a better understanding of biodiversity change, trophic interactions, population dynamics under climate change and socio-economic consequences.

1- From physics to biology focuses on developing and applying coupled ocean-atmosphere models and linking physical drivers to biological processes. While one student will focus on developing a regional climate model, the other involved PhD students will use such models or their output in statistical analyses or mechanistic models to understand climate effects on individuals and populations. Throughout this work we will emphasise the importance of the various sources of uncertainties (observational, model and future projection).

2- From individuals to food webs aims at bridging stressor effects acting on the individual up to the population and ultimately the community and ecosystem level. To this end one student will link studies on individual genetic and physiological processes with state-of-the-art modelling frameworks including bioenergetic, structured population and further up to food webs, ecosystems and economics models conducted by other PhD students.

3- From science to ecosystem-based management aims at unifying perspectives from climatology, ecology and economics to improve and further develop modern EBM approaches. Several methodological approaches will be explored such as general ecosystem-based management strategies, reference points sensitive to environmental conditions, size-based approaches to management, as well as evolutionary and portfolio approaches in fisheries management. A strong component of this work will be interactions and consultations with multi-sector stakeholders.

MARmaED will officially start the 1st of October 2015; the different PhD positions will be then opened for application. More will come so stay tuned in.


Tags: Ecology, Economy, Trans disciplinary, Trans sector, PhD, European Commission By Joël Durant
Published June 5, 2015 1:00 AM - Last modified June 23, 2015 3:54 PM
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