Life in the oceans is extremely diverse. The oceans contain numerous organisms that are found nowhere else on Earth. Marine species range in size from microscopic microbes to blue whales, the largest animals on the planet. They also range in complexity from simple viruses to fish and marine mammals. For these reasons, scientists cannot hope to understand the impact that humans have on the oceans without knowing – on a species level – what organisms live where and how they interact within their ecosystems. The need for a greater understanding of marine biodiversity and its role in healthy ecosystems, of changes occurring in the sea and the implications on human life, and of the requirements for improved management of exploited living resources is one of the driving forces behind the Census of Marine Life.
The research elements of the CoML, outlined in the Research Plan, are designed to assess and explain the diversity, distribution and abundance or organisms throughout the world’s oceans. The projects will provide data, information and methodology useful for enhancing our understanding of marine biodiversity, both historically and today, as well as a basis for predictions of biological diversity in the future. These elements are centered around the questions:
Oceans Past: What did live in the oceans?
The History of Marine Animal Populations (HMAP): the historical component of the CoML
Oceans Present: What lives in the oceans now?
Ocean Realm Field Projects: to demonstrate the use of novel techniques or technologies that can be applied to future studies
Oceans Future: What will live in the oceans?
The Future of Marine Animal Populations (FMAP): the modeling component of the CoML
CoML’s Synthesis will bring together all of the information learned over the course of the program into a series of publications, videos and other communications products.
Click the links above for more information about each of the CoML Elements. Quick links to the websites of each of Element can also be found at the CoML Navigation Portal
Other Important Elements of CoML:
Data Management & Analytical Tools
Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS): information component of the CoML
Scientific Comittee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) Panel on New Technologies for Observing Marine Life: advises CoML projects on technologies, with partial goal of moving recent technological advances into the field
The Census of Marine Life realizes that it cannot cover the entire ocean – 70% of the globe – by 2010. It welcomes collaboration with Affiliated Projects to help it meet its 2010 goal to construct a representative picture of global marine biodiversity.
Ocean Observing Systems
CoML and Ocean Observing Systems: the Census of Marine Life projects have developed and demonstrated technologies that are available for implementation in emerging observing systems, such as the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS).
Outreach & Education
CoML Outreach Network: brings comprehensible information about the CoML and marine biodiversity to the public.
Following the “Taxonomy and DNA” conference held March 9-12, 2003 at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, CoML has also adopted a protocol for DNA Barcoding. This protocol is based on the Barcode of Life initiative. More information is available at the Barcode of Life Secretariat web site and at http://www.marinebarcoding.org/.
Known, Unknown & Unknowable
The CoML is sponsoring a series of workshops on the Known, Unknown & Unknowable (KUU) of Marine Biodiversity – Past, Present and Future to help define the context for the science.