Category Archives: News

Forum “Challenges for the future of marine stations” now open

Forum “Challenges for the future of marine stations” now open

– for MARS members only –

During the last decade MARS has organised several scoping and networking activities to advance the research at marine stations and to make it future-proof.

In June 2008 at a joint MARS-MarBEF-MGE meeting in Brussels the future of MARS was discussed. The question was raised whether MARS, as residual body of the marine Networks of Excellence, should take up a role as umbrella for other networks, programmes and projects.

Since then the marine research and research-policy landscape has changed considerably, and it is now the time to evaluate and reconsider the scope and future strategy of MARS.

The main discussion will take place during the next MARS Directors Meeting in Santander (30 January – 2 February 2017).
In the meantime we want to prepare this discussion, and open it also for the MARS members that will not be able to attend that meeting

As a MARS member you are cordially invited to add to the Forum discussion:

The scoping discussion is organized along four topics:

1. A strong profile for marine stations: now and in the future
2. External pressures on research programmes of marine stations
3. A new Action Plan for marine stations
4. Increasing the visibility of marine stations

Please let us know how MARS is doing at the moment and what MARS should do in the future.

At this moment, the forum discussion is open to MARS members only. You need to log in to have access to the forum. You can register at the website, or to send an email to

We are convinced that together we may come to better and advanced ideas on developing an updated strategy for MARS and its marine station to consolidate or advance its niche and position in the scientific and political landscape in Europe and beyond.

With kind regards,

Herman Hummel – President of MARS.

One of the world’s longest-running marine biological time-series at risk.

One of the world’s longest-running marine biological time-series at risk.

As many of you know, the MBA maintains some of the world’s longest-running marine biological time-series. The MBA monitoring sites also contribute to the Western Channel Observatory, which is run in coordination with Plymouth Marine Laboratory who also maintain high-quality scientific time series (including a buoy – see The Plymouth time-series have also been a core part of European reference sites such as through BIOMARE and EMBOS.

A UK government agency needs to recommend somewhere to dump dredge spoil and has recommended a site overlapping with L4 i.e. exactly where many of our time-series are located.

They claim from p127 onwards that there will be no impact but we are providing very clear evidence that there science is fundamentally flawed.

The MBA and PML are currently replying to the consultation document and objecting in the strongest terms.

MBA long-term science monitoring. Since the opening of its Laboratory in Plymouth in the late 19th century the MBA has undertaken long-term research that monitors natural changes in the physical marine environment and to record the abundance, distributions and population biology of diverse organisms, from phytoplankton to sharks. The purpose of its long-term science monitoring is to provide an environmental baseline for predicting complex physical and ecological responses to natural local, regional and global environmental change. Without multi-decadal data sets of physical and biological measurements it is impossible to undertand how ecosystems like the western English Channel will respond to natural change. To this end, the ‘E’ and ‘L’ Stations for sustained scientific sampling were set up by the MBA in 1902 when the MBA undertook the English share of the international investigations on behalf of the UK following the formation of the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) (Southward et al. 2005). Scientific monitoring at the Stations L4, L5 and E1 including their surrounding sampling areas off Plymouth have been funded by the UK government  and departments since 1902, support which continues to the present day as the Western Channel Observatory (WCO).

The WCO, funded by the UK Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) National Capability, is a partnership between the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and the MBA. Station L4 (50 15’N, 4 13.2’W; 50 m depth) which is situated 13 km off Plymouth, is a monitoring area of particularly intensive (weekly) scientific observational activity. The WCO is a recognised reference site nationally and internationally for monitoring natural fluctuations in the marine environment and biodiversity that is needed to assess changes in the natural climate system. The WCO long-term marine data provides results to UK departments and agencies, including NERC, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies (SNCB) such as Natural England. Data are used to inform policy deliverables under legislation such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive Part 2 Regulations. WCO data is also utilised within Europe as part of EMBOS (European Marine Biological Observatories).

Dr Matthew Frost Mem.MBA
Deputy Director (Policy and Knowledge Exchange) The Marine Biological Association

MARS increases support to EMBS

MARS increases support to EMBS

During the last years a stronger link between the EMBS and the MARS network has been established. Firstly the support was restricted to some announcements of the next conference in the MARS Newsletter. At this moment a few dedicated EMBS pages can be found at the MARS website. For the near future, the EMBS Committee has agreed to accept the offer of the MARS foundation to host the EMBS website, thereby mutually increasing the traceability and visibility of MARS and the EMBS conference series. Moreover, MARS supports the EMBS by promoting participation and increasing interest, through MARS poster awards (of about 100 to 250 €) at each EMBS meeting. New activities to be developed jointly are the installation of an archive on earlier symposia webpages, the maintenance of a database on (potentially/earlier) EMBS participants (facilitating on-line changes of addresses of (potential) participants, and electronic registration), and a strengthened outreach and fund raising.
Herman Hummel, President of MARS

MARS input Round Table “150 Years of Ecology”

MARS input Round Table “150 Years of Ecology”

Abstract of the Intervention by Herman Hummel, on behalf of the European network of Marine Research Institutes and Stations (MARS).
At the Round Table on “150 Years of Ecology. An Evolving Science Challenging Society & Citizenship”.
European Parliament, Brussels; 11 October 2016.

As previous speakers in this Round Table already stated we need to move to a new balance between nature and mankind. The question we need to address now is how do we reach this new balance.
An important element is, to our opinion, to interest the society and the citizens for the ecology of all the domains, i.e. terrestrial, freshwater and marine. To this end, in these domains we need proper locations for meeting, learning and studying nature, in order to see and understand how we can live in harmony with nature. Field stations play a vital role in this. We should not approach, observe and study nature at an increasingly large distance with a globalised view and in an automated way, often intended to only use and benefit from nature, like is done nowadays.
Therefore, on behalf of the MARS foundation, we support the plea, made earlier in the Round Table, for a revolution. This should be a revolution at the societal and political level, in order to give much more attention, i.e. more support and funding, to the observation of nature, and its ecology and biodiversity, on the spot in the field. There where we can touch it, feel it, learn about it, and study it, for experimentation, for innovation, and to benefit from nature in a balanced and sustainable way. Field stations, as the meeting locations par excellence for society and for trans-disciplinary research, are elementary to understand nature and its ecology.
Therefore our plea is to make sure that field stations are sufficiently supported, and not closed, reduced, or disappearing at an unprecedented rate that resembles the decrease of biodiversity.

MARS call for travel awards 2017 now open

MARS call for travel awards 2017 now open

A call for the MARS travel awards for young scientists is now open.

For 2017 two awards of in total 800 € will be granted to promising young scientists or students at MARS member institutions.  The award will consist of two parts.

  1. A travel grant of 500 € to cover (part of) the costs to carry out research at another MARS member institute.
  2. An additional and conditional contribution of 300 € to cover (part of) the travel costs and/or registration fee to present the results of the project at the EMBS.

More information is available here.

Deadline: 15 February 2017

EMBS50 – Publications of EMBOS

EMBS50 – Publications of EMBOS

EMBOS, the European Marine Biodiversity Observatory system aims at setting up a network of marine coastal observatories and providing tools for the large scale and long term sustained observation of marine biodiversity (species richness) at a pan-European scale.
The first phase of this former COST Action (ESSEM ES1003) focused on networking activities and development of the methodology.
In 2014 EMBOS started the Pilot Project to provide proof of the EMBOS concept with actual carrying out field observations using the standardized sampling methodology. In total 27 institutes of 16 different countries participated in this voluntary action (among which many MARS members), and in total 41 different location have been sampled and analyzed.
The data are being kept by LifeWatch Greece.

The following habitats and taxonomic groups were inventoried:

  1. Softbottom of coastal sites (mainly macro-zoobenthos; 12 stations)
  2. Softbottom of lagoons (mainly macro-zoobenthos; 7 stations)
  3. Hard substrate of coastal sites (macro-zoobenthos; macro-algae; 15 stations)
  4. Pelagial (phytoplankton, zooplankton; 11 stations)

EMBOS ended its first (COST) phase, with a presentation of the end results at the EMBS50, Helgoland (Germany), September 2015.
The EMBOS Pilot project presentations resulted in five publications:

Hummel, H., M. Frost, J.A. Juanes, J. Kochmann, C.F. Castellanos Perez Bolde, F. Aneiros, F. Vandenbosch, J.N. Franco, B. Echavarri, X. Guinda, A. Puente, C. Fernández, C. Galván, M. Merino, E. Ramos, P. Fernández, V. Pitacco, M. Alberte, D. Wojcik, M. Orchowska, M. Jahnke, F. Crocetta, L. Carugati, S. Scorrano, S. Fraschetti, P. Pérez García, J.A. Sanabria Fernández, A. Poromov, A. Iurchenko, A. Isachenko, A. Chava, C. Pavloudi, F. Bordeyne, S. Fie Andersen, E. Grace Tunka Eronat, T. Cakmak, P. Louizidou, J. Rico, S. Ruci, D. Corta Diego, S. Mendez, M. Rousou, L. de Clippele, A. Eriksson, W. van Zanten, A. Diamant, V. Kirienko Fernandes de Matos, 2015. A comparison o the degree of implementation of marine biodiversity indicators by European countries in relation to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 2015, 95(8), 1519–1531.

Hummel, H., Van Avesaath, P., Wijnhoven, S., Kleine-Schaars, L., Degraer, S., Kerckhof, F., Bojanic, N., Skejic, S., Vidjak, O., Rousou, M., Orav-Kotta, H., Kotta, J., Jourde, J., Pedrotti, M.L., Leclerc, J.-C., Simon, N., Rigaut-Jalabert, F., Bachelet, G., Lavesque, N., Arvanitidis, C., Pavloudi, C., Faulwetter, S., Crowe, T., Coughlan, J., Benedetti-Cecchi, L., Dal Bello, M., Magni, P., Como, S., Coppa, S., Ikauniece, A., Ruginis, T., Jankowska, E., Weslawski, J.M., Warzocha, J., Gromisz, S., Witalis, B., Silva, T., Ribeiro, P., Fernandes De Matos, V.K., Sousa-Pinto, I., Veiga, P., Troncoso, J., Guinda, X., Juanes De La Pena, J.A., Puente, A., Espinosa, F., Pérez-Ruzafa, A., Frost, M., Mcneill, C.L., Peleg, O. and Rilov, G. (2016) ‘Geographic patterns of biodiversity in European coastal marine benthos’, Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, pp. 1–17.

Kotta, J., Orav-Kotta, H., Jänes, H., Hummel, H., Arvanitidis, C., Van Avesaath, P., Bachelet, G., Benedetti-Cecchi, L., Bojanić, N., Como, S., Coppa, S., Coughlan, J., Crowe, T., Dal Bello, M., Degraer, S., De La Pena, J.A.J., Fernandes De Matos, V.K., Espinosa, F., Faulwetter, S., Frost, M., Guinda, X., Jankowska, E., Jourde, J., Kerckhof, F., Lavesque, N., Leclerc, J.-C., Magni, P., Pavloudi, C., Pedrotti, M.L., Peleg, O., Pérez-Ruzafa, A., Puente, A., Ribeiro, P., Rilov, G., Rousou, M., Ruginis, T., Silva, T., Simon, N., Sousa-Pinto, I., Troncoso, J., Warzocha, J. and Weslawski, J.M. (2016) ‘Essence of the patterns of cover and richness of intertidal hard bottom communities: a pan-European study’, Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, pp. 1–14.

Bello, M.D., Leclerc, J.-C., Benedetti-Cecchi, L., Andrea De Lucia, G., Arvanitidis, C., Van Avesaath, P., Bachelet, G., Bojanic, N., Como, S., Coppa, S., Coughlan, J., Crowe, T., Degraer, S., Espinosa, F., Faulwetter, S., Frost, M., Guinda, X., Jankowska, E., Jourde, J., Juanes De La Pena, J.A., Kerckhof, F., Kotta, J., Lavesque, N., Magni, P., De Matos, V., Orav-Kotta, H., Pavloudi, C., Pedrotti, M.L., Peleg, O., Pérez-Ruzafa, A., Puente, A., Ribeiro, P., Rigaut-Jalabert, F., Rilov, G., Rousou, M., Rubal, M., Ruginis, T., Silva, T., Simon, N., Sousa-Pinto, I., Troncoso, J., Warzocha, J., Weslawski, J.M. and Hummel, H. (2016) ‘Consistent patterns of spatial variability between NE Atlantic and Mediterranean rocky shores’, Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, pp. 1–9. .

Puente, A., Guinda, X., Juanes de la Pena, J.A., Ramos, E., Echavarri-Erasun, ., De La Hoz1, C.F., Degraer., S., Kerckhof, F., Bojanic, N., Rousou., M., Orav-Kotta, H., Kotta, J., Jourde, J.,
Pedrotti., M.L., Leclerc, J.-C., Simon, N., Bachelet, G., Lavesque, N., Arvanitidis, C., Pavloudi, C., Faulwetter, S., Crowe, T.P., Coughlan, J., Benedetti Cecchi L., Dal Bello, M.D., Magni, P., Como, S., Coppa, S., De Lucia, G.A., Rugins, T., Jankowska, E., Weslawski, J.-M., Warzocha J., Silva T., Ribeiro , P., MatosV., Sousa-Pinto, I., Troncoso, J., Peleg O., Rilov, G., Espinosa, F., Perez Ruzafa, A., Frost, M., Hummel, H., Van Avesaath, P. (in prep) ‘The role of physical variables in biodiversity patterns of intertidal macroalgae along European coasts’ Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom,

The website of EMBOS is still alive and will be updated soon.