The World Conference on Marine Biodiversity: current global trends in marine biodiversity research
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This paper contains an analysis of the communications presented at the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity in Valencia, Spain, November 2008. Our main interest was to determine the current global trends in marine biodiversity research in terms of which areas, ecosystems and functional or taxonomic groups are receiving the most attention from researchers, what countries are actively involved in research in this field, and what networks are being established internationally to foster marine biodiversity research. A total of 236 oral talks and 148 posters were presented at the conference. These were organized in 23 sessions with four major themes linked to marine biodiversity: patterns and processes, ecosystem functioning, changes over time, and conservation policies and societal benefits. Current research seems to be focused mainly on benthic communities, followed by plankton, and to a much lesser extent, sponges, meiobenthos and invertebrates in general. The most studied geographic areas are the Southern Ocean, the Mediterranean, the European Seas and the Antarctic region. Exploration is being carried out mostly in the deep sea and in coastal zones, and focused mainly on topics such as function, communities, distribution, ecology, and secondarily on genetics and climate related issues. The conference had good international representation. The UK, France and the US each contributed more than 50 abstracts; Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Canada, and the Netherlands contributed between 25 to 48 abstracts each. Nearly 40% of the papers and abstracts presented were contributed to or involved two or more countries, which indicates a solid foundation for international collaboration and establishing research networks. The importance of the event for both the scientific community and society at large was discussed including the passing of the Valencia Declaration, a plea for the protection of marine biodiversity.
KeywordsWorld Conference on Marine Biodiversity Research trends International cooperation MarBEF Census of Marine Life
We wish to thank Julio Castillo from the Remote Sensing Laboratory at Universidad Simon Bolivar for developing the on-line application to visualize the network between countries, and the Census of Marine Life Secretariat for providing travel support to Patricia Miloslavich to attend the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity. We also acknowledge the insight provided by the Census of Marine Life Science Council in regards to the vision of a science plan to be implemented in the next decade, and Darlene Trew Crist from the Census of Marine Life - Education and Outreach group for providing editorial comments to the manuscript.
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