IUCN new listing takes into account results from food web modelling studies

The endemic Mediterranean starry ray Raja asterias has been recently listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Near Threatened (it was previously listed as Least Concern).

The new evaluation of IUCN has taken into account new recent data available for this species, including some studies developed using food web modelling work in the Western Mediterranean Sea:

Coll M and co-authors (2010) The biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea: estimates, patterns and threats. PLoS ONE 5:doi:10.1371

Coll M and co-authors (2013) Ecological role of the endemic Starry ray Raja asterias in the NW Mediterranean Sea and management options for its conservation. Biological Conservation 157:108-120

Find out more about this at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/63120/0

EwE introductory course in Tasmania

A new Ecopath with Ecosim introductory course is being taught in Hobart, Tasmania, from the 7th to the 11th of March 2016.

Teachers are Villy Christensen, Jeroen Steenbeek, Carl Walters and Marta Coll

Participants from eleven different countries are participating.

BlueBRIDGE EU H2020 project updates

Bringing food web models to the next level: Interview with Jeroen Steenbeek, Head Technical Committee at Ecopath Research and Development Consortium

Jeroen Steenbeek, Head Technical Committee at Ecopath Research and Development Consortium, explains why the food web models are fundamental for predicting the human impact on marine ecosystems and the work he is planning to do with BlueBRIDGE to bring the Ecopath with Ecosim approach at a next level


African and Mediterranean marine biodiversity

The First International Workshop on Global Trends in Marine Biodiversity in African and Mediterranean ecosystems was held in University of Cape Town, South Africa, from the 7-9 December 2015.

The workshop aimed at bringing scientists from Africa and Mediterranean countries together to start an analysis of marine biodiversity changes in these countries. The final aim was to work collaboratively in a global analysis using the trawl scientific surveys and complementary data in the different marine ecosystems and countries to produce an expertise overview on the state and dynamics of marine biodiversity in these two regions. Common key scientific questions were treated regarding trends in exploited and by-catch species including different categories such as species type and several species traits. A comparative approach using common statistical techniques will be used to extract the key information from available datasets in the group.
Participants to the workshop were targeted experts of different ecosystems with local knowledge and access to local datasets, with right to work and publish using the long term data sets, and experts on data analysis and statistical techniques.

DESSIM project video

Here you can find a very nice video explaining the DESSIM international project (led by Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute)



New course on Ecosystem Modelling Autumn 2015

An Introduction to Ecosystem Modelling with Ecopath, Ecosim and Ecospace course will be held at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande Do Norte (Natal, Brazil) Monday, September 14, 2015 to Friday, September 18, 2015.
More information about the course can be found here:


Teachers: Marta Coll, Jeroen Steenbeek, Ronaldo Angelini
Language: Portuguese, Spanish & English

Contact: ronangelini@gmail.com

New workshop: Building scenarios of future marine ecosystems

From the 8th to the 10th of June 2015 IRD and EII with financial support from EuroMarine are organizing the workshop “Building scenarios of future marine ecosystems under a global change context: moving forward”

This workshop aims at being a crucial event to provide needed guidelines and essential reflections on the current status and future needs of scenario building and visualization for marine ecosystems under a global change context.

The following topics will be discussed in the workshop:

• Current and foreseen needs for scenario building
• The scientific capacity required to address scenario building challenges
• Tool inventory, current initiatives and present shortcomings
• Potential collaboration and needed developments
• Establishment of a multidisciplinary scenario laboratory

Please contact me if you would like to receive further information!

Internship opportunity!

Analysis of context-dependency issues related to the identification of keystone species in marine food webs

The concept of keystone species has been widely applied and discussed in the literature since its introduction. Keystone species are ecologically important species in marine food-webs, which have a disproportionately high trophic impact on their community, compared to their biomass. Thus, keystone species theoretically allow for the management of a single focal species with the aim of maintaining the whole ecosystem. In order to identify keystone species, indices measuring the potential of species to be keystone (or ‘keystoneness’, KS) have been proposed in the literature. Functional KS indices derived from Ecopath food-web models of marine ecosystems have recently been reviewed and a new index (KS3) has been proposed (Valls et al. 2015). Overall, cartilaginous fishes and toothed whales were the most frequently identified as potential keystone species. However, in some of the selected modeled ecosystems, no keystone species could be identified. Context-dependency may be the reason for discrepancies between ecosystems. The temporal and spatial scales considered may influence the identification of keystone species. Also, multiple effects of different biotic or abiotic factors may have an influence on species keystoneness. For instance, the KS3 index may be sensitive to natural or human-induced variability (e.g., different levels of fishing pressure), which can be estimated from existing ecosystem indices.

Reference: Valls, A., Coll, M., Christensen, V., 2015. Keystone species: toward an operational concept for marine biodiversity conservation. Ecological Monographs 85, 29-47.

o Implementation of the KS3 index in the Keystoneness Analysis plug-in of the Ecopath model and software
o Selection and application of relevant existing ecosystem indices for comparison with KS3
o Utilization of the EcoBase database to select a pool of Ecopath models relevant to the analysis and extract the required data
o Implementation of statistical analyses to explore context-dependency in keystone species identification using R and PRIMER
o Preparation of a scientific article to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal in Ecology

o Master student available for a 6-months internship
o Basic notions and strong interest in ecosystem ecology and food-web theory applied to marine systems
o Basic notions in statistical analyses
o Programming skills in R for data handling and statistical analyses
o Background knowledge and computing skills in Ecopath with Ecosim and PRIMER Proficient in English

Supervision: Dr. Marta Coll (IRD, Sete, marta.coll@ird.fr) and Dr. Audrey Valls (CNRS, Moulis, audrey.valls@ecoex-moulis.cnrs.fr)

Starting date: as soon as possible Location: CRH, Sete, France with visits to Moulis.

Please contact us if you are interested!

Working together: A call for inclusive conservation

A new comment in the journal Nature argues that conservation’s impact on the world is being hindered by the field’s lack of inclusiveness — particularly its failure to consistently include both the many different values people hold for nature, and the viewpoints of women and diverse ethnicities and cultures.

Read the comment at: http://www.nature.com/polopoly_fs/1.16260!/menu/main/topColumns/topLeftColumn/pdf/515027a.pdf

See more at: http://blog.nature.org/science/diversity-conservation-petition#call

Scientific American & The Independent

And to The Independent


The pdf of the study can be freely accessed from the journal