sues. This initiative provides the next step to connect and coordinate research opportunities with other programs and with agency interests and efforts. In turn, oceanographic-ecological coupling within a regional-model system approach means that this initiative could provide numerous potential benefits for other biodiversity programs.
The Systematics Agenda 2000 (SA2000, 1994) is a consortium-based program that seeks to improve the discipline of systematics and taxonomy throughout the U.S. scientific structure. The importance of accurate and reliable taxonomy to studies of biodiversity cannot be overemphasized. Thus, the goals of SA2000 coincide with some of the goals of this initiative—enhancing taxonomy as a discipline and improving the scientific knowledge base of the systematics of marine organisms. This marine biodiversity initiative further recommends an enhanced interrelationship between taxonomists and ecologists. Systematic support groups, such as the Association of Systematics Collections (ASC), have formulated plans for the conservation, support, and use of the nation's museum collections.
The Diversitas program, sponsored by the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS), the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), the International Union of Microbiological Scientists (IUMS), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a broadly based program in biodiversity covering all of the Earth's ecosystems (diCastri and Younès, 1990; 1994). Under the auspices of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), Diversitas has become one of the four components (along with the World Climate Research Program, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program, and the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Program) of a comprehensive program of Earth systems research (Perry, 1993). The scientific questions asked by Diversitas are closely related to those in this initiative. The marine component of Diversitas is described by J.F. Grassle et al., (1991); the European MARS Network, noted earlier, is a component of Diversitas. Diversitas has sponsored workshops on biodiversity and ecosystem function for many habitats, including coral reefs; upwelling systems; estuaries, lagoons, and nearshore coastal systems; and pelagic systems. These workshop reports and conclusions are a rich source of research questions closely related to those identified here.
This marine biodiversity initiative would benefit—and would benefit from—some of the other major marine initiatives such as the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) and the Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) program. One of the objectives of JGOFS is to ''understand the global-scale processes that control carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur exchanges in the ocean over time" (NRC, 1994b). The goal of GLOBEC is "to predict the