Democratise Biodiversity Science to Accelerate Discovery And Management of Ocean Life
In a paper submitted to coincide with the launch of Ocean Census, Professor Alex Rogers, with the support of 44 international contributors, recommends a strategy to underpin a new approach to the discovery of marine species, a shift in speed and scale that must start now if the current ocean biodiversity crisis is to be mitigated in time to prevent mass extinction.
The paper outlines five key elements to the recommended strategy:
- Digitisation of all data associated with collection of marine species to promote cybertaxonomy, with a new Cyber-Biodiversity System (to be developed by Ocean Census) for collection, storing and dissemination of species data to appropriate existing global databases.
- Adoption of new technologies and working practices that accelerate the process of species description, including developing teams of taxonomists and support specialists in new Biodiversity Centres, as well as other academic institutions and citizen scientists globally working towards the goal of species discovery and description.
- Increase global human capacity and infrastructure to discover and protect marine life including through Ocean Census Expeditions and specific training activities.
- Conduct expeditions targeted at collecting biological specimens from poorly investigated regions, increasing measurements of Essential Ocean Variables, and global biodiversity monitoring efforts.
- Raise and inspire public and partner awareness of ocean life, creating greater Ocean Literacy.
The paper argues for biodiversity science to be democratised so that all coastal nations can document, monitor and manage the ocean life in their seas, and to prevent further species decline, degradation and collapse of marine ecosystems. A significant step up in capacity development, co-production of science, and a comprehensive digitisation strategy is vital at this stage, and the strategy includes a set of new equity principles needed to ensure this process of democratisation.
An important key to halting the biodiversity crisis, sustainably managing human activities in the ocean and protecting nature’s contributions to society is transforming our understanding of the diversity and distribution of life in the ocean. This paper shows clearly why society cannot afford to wait any longer and how this transformation can be undertaken.
Note this paper is in submission to Frontiers in Marine Science.