the oceans by emphasizing an integrated regional-scale research strategy within an environmentally relevant and socially responsible framework. The purposes of this proposed initiative are thus to define a suite of cross-system basic research questions that transcend the typical approach to studying the patterns, processes, and consequences of marine biological diversity. These questions are designed to yield new insights and to enhance understanding of the factors controlling biological diversity, and to increase predictive capability regarding changes in marine biodiversity due to anthropogenic effects in order to provide essential management and conservation guidelines.

The five fundamental objectives of this initiative are:

  • to understand the patterns, processes, and consequences of changing marine biological diversity by focusing on critical environmental issues and their threshold effects, and to address these effects at spatial scales from local to regional and at appropriate temporal scales;
  • to improve the linkages between the marine ecological and oceanographic sciences by increasing understanding of the connectivity between local, smaller-scale biodiversity patterns and processes, and regional, larger-scale oceanographic patterns and processes that may directly impact local phenomena;
  • to strengthen and expand the field of marine taxonomy through training, the development of new methodologies, and enhanced information dissemination, and to raise the standard of taxonomic competence in all marine ecological research;
  • to facilitate and encourage the incorporation of (1) new technological advances in sampling and sensing instrumentation, experimental techniques, and molecular genetic methods, (2) predictive models for hypothesis development, testing, and extrapolation, and (3) historical perspectives (geological, paleontological, archeological, and historical records of early explorations) in investigations of the patterns, processes, and consequences of marine biodiversity; and
  • to use the new understanding of the patterns, processes, and consequences of marine biodiversity derived from this regional-scale research approach to improve predictions of the impacts of human activities on the marine environment.

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