Unifying approaches to Functional Marine Connectivity for improved marine resource management: the European SEA-UNICORN COST Action

Darnaude, Audrey M.
Arnaud-Haond, Sophie
Hunter, Ewan
Gaggiotti, Oscar
Sturrock, Anna
Beger, Maria
Volckaert, Filip A. M.
Pérez-Ruzafa, Angel
López-López, Lucía
Tanner, Susanne E.
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Pensoft Publishers
Truly sustainable development in a human-altered, fragmented marine environment subject to unprecedented climate change, demands informed planning strategies in order to be successful. Beyond a simple understanding of the distribution of marine species, data describing how variations in spatio-temporal dynamics impact ecosystem functioning and the evolution of species are required. Marine Functional Connectivity (MFC) characterizes the flows of matter, genes and energy produced by organism movements and migrations across the seascape. As such, MFC determines the ecological and evolutionary interdependency of populations, and ultimately the fate of species and ecosystems. Gathering effective MFC knowledge can therefore improve predictions of the impacts of environmental change and help to refine management and conservation strategies for the seas and oceans. Gathering these data are challenging however, as access to, and survey of marine ecosystems still presents significant challenge. Over 50 European institutions currently investigate aspects of MFC using complementary methods across multiple research fields, to understand the ecology and evolution of marine species. The aim of SEA-UNICORN, a COST Action supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology), is to bring together this research effort, unite the multiple approaches to MFC, and to integrate these under a common conceptual and analytical framework. The consortium brings together a diverse group of scientists to collate existing MFC data, to identify knowledge gaps, to enhance complementarity among disciplines, and to devise common approaches to MFC. SEA-UNICORN will promote co-working between connectivity practitioners and ecosystem modelers to facilitate the incorporation of MFC data into the predictive models used to identify marine conservation priorities. Ultimately, SEA-UNICORN will forge strong forward-working links between scientists, policy-makers and stakeholders to facilitate the integration of MFC knowledge into decision support tools for marine management and environmental policies.
Publication history: Received - 15 December 2022; Published - 22 December 2022.
conservation , ecosystem services , management , marine biodiversity , marine resources , marine spatial planning , meta-populations , meta-ecosystems
Darnaude, A., Arnaud-Haond, S., Hunter, E., Gaggiotti, O., Sturrock, A., Beger, M., Volckaert, F., Pérez-Ruzafa, A., López-López, L., Tanner, S.E., Turan, C., Ahmet Doğdu, S., Katsanevakis, S. and Costantini, F. (2022) ‘Unifying approaches to Functional Marine Connectivity for improved marine resource management: the European SEA-UNICORN COST Action’, Research Ideas and Outcomes. Pensoft Publishers. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3897/rio.8.e98874.