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WP2 Bioindicators


Observatoire Oceanol. de Banyuls Banyuls, FRANCE

Objectives and input to workpackage

The composition and structure of the fauna, flora and habitats of the oceans change particularly due to climate and human activity. The latter is the reason for the deterioration of many environments; over the last 50 years the rate and extent of this deterioration has been unprecedented, as were the consequences on biological diversity. Indicators generally refer to the environmental attributes, often species or species groups, which can be sampled and whose modification is supposed to reflect a change of biological diversity. Indeed indicators are measurable substitutes for the larger constituents of biological diversity. They are useful monitoring tools given the impossibility to survey biological diversity in its entirety. Indicators must be envisaged in the context of information flow (scientific research, environmental management, decision making or public awareness). Thus the objective is to condense information on biodiversity and clarify the generally complex phenomena dealt with in the environmental sciences by a set of standardised indicators.

Description of work

Bioindicators will be considered following the model developed by OECD: State, Pressure, Use and Response indicators. As a short-term objective WP2 will consist of:

  • a survey and critical evaluation of different types of bioindicators available in Europe: so-called indicator and sentinel species, biological indices, biomarkers, lethal and sublethal tests, bioaccumulators.
  • a tentative inventory of existing national monitoring networks (e.g. sea water quality: temperature, salinity, nutrients and contaminants, phytoplankton disturbance (especially by toxic unicellulars), bacteriological quality of shellfish by faecal bacteria).

Over a 2 year period the network will organise regional workshops and meetings to:

  • organise a sequence of meetings aimed at increasingly inclusive information coverage (definition of sustainable indicators and related techniques at regional and European levels)
  • determine the geographical unit which must be studied: same biogeographical history and a certain ecological homogeneity (link with WP1)
  • choose the indicator group(s) according to current knowledge, and explore the availability of standardised sampling techniques
  • express the results in terms of local (alpha) and landscape (gamma) diversity, as well as in terms of beta diversity (e.g. quantification of species substitution between communities)
  • produce comparable data, readily available in banks designed for their public use (link with WP3).

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