Project

COST Action CA19107, Unifying Approaches to Marine Connectivity for improved Resource Management for the Seas (SEA-UNICORN)

Goal: In a human-altered marine environment, fragmented and subjected to unprecedented climate change, planning sustainable strategies for development requires to understand the distribution of marine biodiversity and how its variations impact ecosystem functioning and the evolution of species. Functional Connectivity characterizes the migratory flows of organisms in the landscape. As such, it determines the ecological and evolutionary interdependency of populations, and ultimately the fate of species and ecosystems. Gathering effective knowledge on Marine Functional Connectivity (MFC) can therefore improve predictions of environmental change impacts and help refine management and conservation strategies for the Seas. This is challenging though, because marine ecosystems are particularly difficult to access and survey. Currently, >50 institutions investigate MFC in Europe, by using complementary methods from multiple research fields to describe the ecology and genetics of marine species. SEA-UNICORN aims at coordinating their research to unify the varied approaches to MFC and integrate them under a common conceptual and analytical framework for improved management of marine resources and ecosystems. For this, it will bring together a diverse group of scientists in order to collate existing MFC data, identify knowledge gaps, reduce overlap among disciplines, and devise common approaches to MFC. It will promote their interaction with connectivity theoreticians and ecosystem modelers, to facilitate the incorporation of MFC data into the projection models used to identify priorities for marine conservation. Lastly, it will forge strong working links between scientists, policy-makers and stakeholders to promote the integration of MFC knowledge into decision support tools for marine management and environmental policies.

Date: 1 November 2020 - 31 March 2025

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Project log

Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
From 13th-16th of September 2022, SEA-UNICORN Working Group 2 held a training workshop on the Modelling of Marine Connectivity in Montpellier, France.
This initiative, organized by Audrey Darnaude (MARBEC, Montpellier - France) supported by WG2 co-leaders Lucia Lopez (IEO, CSIC, Santander - Spain) and Manuel Hidalgo (IEO, CSIC, Palma de Majorca - Spain), gathered 29 participants from 13 different countries. The aim was to train both established and early career researchers who work in marine functional connectivity (MFC) with specific taxa and/or systems, in the construction and functioning principles of theoretical meta-populations, meta-community and meta-ecosystem models, which incorporate the particularities of the marine realm. This interdisciplinary knowledge transfer intended to facilitate MFC data integration in meta-models and innovation in this field. The three trainers were Isabelle Gounand (IEES, Paris, France), Scott burgess (Florida State University, USA) and Emanuel Fronhofer (ISEM, Montpellier - France).
During the first 3 days participants learned about the historical development of meta-models and how they can be used for specific research questions, with particular attention to model assumptions and parametrisation in regards to connectivity. Participants were also taught about the particular challenges of the marine environment for applying meta-models and how 3 dimensionality and oceanographic currents can be incorporated into these forecasting models. The training also involved screening meta-models scripts on R and playing with data to tackle specific research questions.The last day of the training workshop consisted in a brainstorming session aimed at exchanging knowledge and suggesting improvements of MFC descriptors to allow including MFC knowledge into these forecasting models.
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
From 6th-9th of September 2022 in Sète (France), SEA-UNICORN Working Group 1 held a training workshop on the basics of biologging.
This initiative, organized by Audrey Darnaude (MARBEC, France) supported by WG1 co-leaders Susanne Tanner (MARE, Portugal) and Anna Sturrock (University of Essex, UK), gathered 21 participants from 10 different countries. The aim was to train researchers and early career investigators working in other areas of marine connectivity in the basics of biologging, particularly acoustic telemetry, data storage tags and GPS tags to facilitate cross-method integration and innovation. The four trainers were Amber-Robyn Childs (Rhodes University, South Africa), Sophie Lanco-Bertrand (MARBEC, France), Fabien Forget (MARBEC, France) and Stefanie Haase (Thünen Institute of Baltic Sea Fisheries, Germany).
During the 3.5 days of training, the 16 participants discussed ecological questions that can be answered using different tagging/telemetry approaches, learned about different tag types (e.g. GPS tags, data storage tags, acoustic tags) - their applications and limitations and how to model, simulate and visualize biologging data. Participants also gave speed talks about their own work, and visited the MARBEC Biologging lab for a fun ‘show and tell’ with Fabien Forget. In a final group exercise, participants designed a study for two contrasting species integrating biologging techniques with other methods and created a 'Practical User Guide' and conceptual figure.
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added a research item
The European COST Action “Unifying Approaches to Marine Connectivity for improved Resource Management for the Seas” (SEA-UNICORN, 2020‐2025) is an international research coordination initiative that unites an interdisciplinary community of scientists and policymakers from over 100 organizations across Europe and beyond. It is establishing a globally harmonized framework to deliver actionable, transdisciplinary knowledge of marine functional connectivity, promoting a sustainable blue economy and ocean conservation. Planning sustainable development in rapidly changing oceans requires a thorough comprehension of marine biodiversity and the processes underpinning the functioning of ecosystems. Connectivity among marine populations and habitats facilitates the persistence and resilience of vulnerable species and ecosystems and controls the spread of invasive species. Constructing effective networks of restoration or conservation areas and promoting sustainable harvesting requires knowledge of connectivity. SEA-UNICORN advances worldwide collaboration by coordinating the collection, sharing, and application of knowledge on species, community, and ecosystem connectivity at sea and at the land‐sea interface. It engages scientists from diverse areas and early-career researchers and creates a stronger match between natural and social science and policy needs to better address key environmental issues that challenge the future of our planet.
Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
Proud to have presented the international SEA-UNICORN Action and our efforts to advance knowledge and research on Marine Connectivity at this first (but I hope not last) UN Ocean Decade event in France!
For those speaking French, you can listen to what was said about the Ocean numerical twin (explanation of the importance of including data on Marine Functional Connectivity in the models, at ca. 03h00) on: https://lnkd.in/e5rW-Ypf
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
The second publication by the SEA-UNICORN consortium, "The SEA-UNICORN European COST Action: Advancing Knowledge on Marine Connectivity to Support Transition to a Sustainable Blue Economy", has just been published in Marine Technology Society Journal
This 2-pages poster summarizes the goals of the Action and presents its networks of experts. It was written for a Special issue of the journal dedicated to the UN Ocean Decade 2030 who endorsed SEA-UNICORN as an official "Ocean Decade Action" in 2021.
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
The 5-days training workshop organized by SEA-UNICORN's WG3 on the specific integration of Marine functional Connectivity data in Marine Spatial Planning was a success. This hybrid event, organized at the EMUNI University in Piran (Slovenia) on 6-10 June 2022 gathered 18 participants with balanced gender, age and geographic origin, and representing research institutes, universities, governmental agencies, NGOs and the private sector from 14 countries. The training, led by Dr Maria Beger (WG3 co-leader, UK), Dr Ant Türkmen (WG3 co-leader, Turkey), and Dominic Muenzel (UK), allowed them to gain the basic theoretical knowledge and practical skills necessary to integrate Connectivity into Marine Spatial Planning using the Marxan Connect decision support tool. This event thus contributed to providing new skills to a variety of stakeholders in Europe and throughout the Mediterranean region, and to improving the integration of science-policy-society interactions.
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
SEA-UNICORN organizes a special issue on Marine Functional Connectivity in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series (IF = 2.82), for manuscript submissions from March 1st until August 31st, 2022.
For more information, visit:
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
The first scientific article produced by the SEA-UNICORN consortium, "Unifying approaches to Functional Marine Connectivity for improved marine resource management: the European SEA-UNICORN COST Action", has just been published in Research Ideas and Outcomes (DOI: 10.3897/rio.8.e80223).
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
The 6th International Marine Connectivity Conference (I-MarCo 2021), co-organized by SEA-UNICORN took place last week at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris (France). Despite travel restrictions due to the pandemic, The event gathered 105 participants from more than 20 countries, and combined the final international event of the iMarCo initiative (2016-2020) and the first annual meeting of SEA-UNICORN. The first two days were dedicated to the presentation of 33 scientific oral communications and 38 posters in the field of marine connectivity. Around 40 members of SEA-UNICORN (from 15 countries) attended it, presenting 3 keynotes, 10 talks and 20 posters, all in link with the study of Marine Functional Connectivity (MFC), but also with MFC knowledge requirements for marine spatial planning and policymaking. The last day was dedicated to the annual joint-meeting of the four Working Groups of the SEA-UNICORN COST Action, with a presentation of the main advances since November 2020, followed by cross-group brainstorming sessions on MFC, its sensitivity to climate change and ways to foster the uptake of MFC data by stakeholders.
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
The special session on Marine Functional Connectivity (MFC) we co-organized (Lucia Lopez-Lopez, Manuel Hidalgo and myself) for the online ASLO 2021 Aquatic Science Meeting took place last week with a live 3h session of Q&A yesterday afternoon.
This was a great experience!
The session gathered more than 20 participants (mainly from Spain, France, Belgium, Canada, Japan, Ireland and Australia) around 16 talks and one poster, all on pioneering techniques and concepts in the field of MFC. Among these later, nine included SEA-UNICORN participants as co-authors. Besides the session introductory talk I had the honor to give on Marine Functional Connectivity: A new framework for unifying concepts & approaches across disciplines in marine ecology research, the two other keynotes were: Would maximizing marine functional connectivity really improve biodiversity conservation in the ocean (by Angel Perez Ruzafa, Univ. of Murcia - Spain) and Towards a multi-trophic extension of meta-community ecology (by Laura Melissa Guzman, Simon Fraze Univ. - Canada).
This was a great opportunity to learn more about what is hot in the field of MFC. We are thinking to include several of the presentations made in a special issue on MFC to be published in MEPS in 2022.
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
We are pleased to announce the official launch of the Action's website (https://www.sea-unicorn.com/). Hoping that you will find it useful.
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
This week was one of exciting brainstorming sessions in the frame of the workshop TUTTI, organized by Lucia López-López and José Manuel Hidalgo in the frame of the activities of SEA-UNICORN working group 2 and of the EuroMarine network.
This workshop aimed at advancing towards a framework allowing a close interaction between research in marine connectivity and ecosystem dynamics, combining modelling and empiricist expertise. It brought together more than 25 experts in dispersal, migration, trophic ecology and ecosystem modelling from diverse European countries.
Drawing on our complementary knowledge, we endeavoured identifying the knowledge gaps to be filled in the short to medium term in order to effectively incorporate functional connectivity within the agenda for ecosystems management and stewardship.
It is expected that the understanding of functional connectivity achieved by TUTTI will constitute a stepping stone upon which to start assessing the effect of cumulative human pressures on functional connectivity. Eventually, this impact will help contribute to the better management of the multidimensional complexity of our marine ecosystems.
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
This week, the working group 1 of the SEA-UNICORN COST Action started unifying approaches among the varied disciplines that study Marine Functional Connectivity (MFC).
With more than 60 participants, the first Conceptual Thinking workshop for this working group aimed to give a broad overview of the basics in each research field before engaging in group discussions about:
(1) the advantages and limitations of each method for studying connectivity and
(2) the most effective terminology and conceptual framework for unifying disciplines and facilitating MFC data integration into marine policy and management.
#marine #research #innovation #skills #MarineFunctionalConnectivity
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
This week, 22 members of SEA-UNICORN' take part in the Online Training Course on SCIENCE-POLICY-SOCIETY INTERACTIONS IN ECOSYSTEM-BASED MARINE RESOURCES MANAGEMENT AND PLANNING, as trainees but also as trainers.
This international online training course, co-organised by the MBPC and the BlueMed Coordination and Support Action (in collaboration with the IOC-UNESCO and the MSP Global Initiative), is a great opportunity to start familiarizing SEA-UNICORN scientists with marine governance and the knowledge requirements for effective decision-making in marine policy/management.
In the frame of the activities proposed by SEA-UNICORNS's WG3, a discussion on the "Barriers to implementing Marine Functional Connectivity (MFC) studies to management and policy" was added to the agenda. It will contribute to produce a roadmap to improve knowledge exchange between MFC scientists and decision-makers and optimize dissemination of MFC research findings across stakeholder communities.
#oceans
#MarinefunctionalConnectivity
#sustainableDevelopment
#marinelife
#EBMtraining
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
Our brand new logo ! #MarineFunctionalConnectivity
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added an update
I'm proud to announce the successful launch of this pan-European COST Action, which I will have the honour to chair for the 4 coming years.
This worldwide consortium already gathers >150 scientists and stakeholders from more than 33 countries (mostly in Europe, but also in Algeria, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey, as well as in Australia, South Africa and the USA), but more are expected to join during the course of the action. Its participants will share their complementary expertise over the coming years, with the aim to advance concepts and methods in the emerging field of Marine Functional Connectivity (MFC) research and promote awareness about the central role of MFC knowledge for preserving marine biodiversity and ecosystem services.
 
Audrey M Darnaude
added a project goal
In a human-altered marine environment, fragmented and subjected to unprecedented climate change, planning sustainable strategies for development requires to understand the distribution of marine biodiversity and how its variations impact ecosystem functioning and the evolution of species. Functional Connectivity characterizes the migratory flows of organisms in the landscape. As such, it determines the ecological and evolutionary interdependency of populations, and ultimately the fate of species and ecosystems. Gathering effective knowledge on Marine Functional Connectivity (MFC) can therefore improve predictions of environmental change impacts and help refine management and conservation strategies for the Seas. This is challenging though, because marine ecosystems are particularly difficult to access and survey. Currently, >50 institutions investigate MFC in Europe, by using complementary methods from multiple research fields to describe the ecology and genetics of marine species. SEA-UNICORN aims at coordinating their research to unify the varied approaches to MFC and integrate them under a common conceptual and analytical framework for improved management of marine resources and ecosystems. For this, it will bring together a diverse group of scientists in order to collate existing MFC data, identify knowledge gaps, reduce overlap among disciplines, and devise common approaches to MFC. It will promote their interaction with connectivity theoreticians and ecosystem modelers, to facilitate the incorporation of MFC data into the projection models used to identify priorities for marine conservation. Lastly, it will forge strong working links between scientists, policy-makers and stakeholders to promote the integration of MFC knowledge into decision support tools for marine management and environmental policies.