CIESM Workshop Series, n°1:

Marine biodiversity
Nicosia, Cyprus, 1-3 May 1997

Summary Report

Twenty seven scientists in all, originating from 14 countries from the entire periphery of the Mediterranean, participated in the Workshop.
The biodiversity concept has rightly attracted world-wide attention in recent years and participants were challenged to study it in the perspective of the major changes taking place on a large scale. The aim of the meeting, beyond desirable intellectual exchanges, was to outline of one or more innovative projects with realistic objectives, preferably crossing through the various trophic levels of the marine ecosystem.
The discussions were rich; here follow some of the main conclusions.

Lack of taxonomists
Today the lack of taxonomists has been recognised in a world wide scale i.e.there are very few specialists all over the world on certain groups such as Porifera, Tunicata, Meiobenthos A group of taxonomists with a leader in each taxonomic group is badly needed in the Mediterranean. Furthermore, taxonomy is often needed to include investigations at genetic level. As sustainable development is our first concern and taxonomy is a means towards it, the recommendations made on this table must be transmitted to our governments.
Also an effort must and will be made to influence the policies of Universities towards training of taxonomists. We need a generation of new taxonomists.
Of "modern" taxonomists not just "identificators".

Limited information available
The problem is that we have limited data at our disposal. A lot of information is in the drawers. It is not easy to publish faunal lists. Until now most magazines did not accept lists. An answer to this would be to put together all the known information and prepare a map with the knowledge already reached. Co-ordination of the information can be possibly achieved with electronic means. Another proposal was to make co-ordinated efforts to prepare "Mediterranean" faunas for each phylum incorporating the unpublished information. As this is a time consuming, tedious task the effort could start with taxa already studied extensively like hydromedusae.

Protection of biodiversity
There is lack of information on management plans to prevent loss of biodiversity. We have to provide information that will help the authorities. Towards this, the urgency to prepare Red Data Books, in countries where they are missing, was raised. Other relevant aspects pointed out were: (a) Monitor the protection and frequentation effects on marine protected areas. Also monitor the status of key endangered species, (b) study the impact of fisheries to biodiversity loss, and (c) include lagoonal activity in the biodiversity aspects.

Hot-spots, Key-areas
Efforts must be concentrated in areas where the ecosystem dynamics appears fast changing. Such areas are: the Levantine Sea, Black Sea, Adriatic Sea, Gibraltar and Straits of Sicily. Also it is necessary to study the biodiversity on some hot spots such as caves, canyons and deep seas. Special mention was given to the study of submarine canyons all over the Mediterranean.

Main recommandations
The Mediterranean has an extremely rich biodiversity. This heritage has to be preserved and managed for future generations. A complete inventory of Mediterranean biota is missing and it is impossible to manage what is unknown. Moreover, the expertise on biodiversity are gradually disappearing. Modern experts have to be trained to know and manage what is unknown. List of key recommendations:
- Establish a list of expert taxonomists for the various groups. CIESM could give a label to various Centres with recognised experts on certain taxonomic groups. Modern taxonomy has to integrate genetics and ecology.
- Make a co-ordinated effort to homogenise the existing information on the Mediterranean biota.
- Monitor the status of key/endangered species.

For more information, contact Dr C. Papaconstantinou.