Planning the implementation of a global long-term observing and data sharing strategy for macroalgal communities | POGO

Planning the implementation of a global long-term observing and data sharing strategy for macroalgal communities


Macroalgal forests (dominated by kelp and fucoid brown algae) are iconic on rocky reefs around the world’s temperate coasts. These highly productive and diverse ecosystems provide many important functions and services including provision of nursery areas, human food resources, and protection from coastal erosion.


Macroalgal forests are vulnerable to global threats such as ocean warming and acidification, and to regional anthropogenically-mediated stressors including habitat degradation, eutrophication, other pollution, over fishing, and invasive species. The compound effects of multiple stressors are eroding the resilience of these systems, making regime shifts and population collapse more likely. Regime shifts such as the replacement of canopies of large brown macroalgae by less productive, low-diversity assemblages of small turf-forming algae or sea urchin ‘barrens’ habitat are increasingly observed, particularly in temperate regions. In the tropics, many coral reefs are becoming dominated by macroalgal assemblages (Arias-González et al., 2017). Vulnerability begets sensitivity and macroalgal forests respond quickly to deteriorating environmental conditions, potentially allowing the early detection of impending regime shifts (Krumhansl et al., 2017). Furthermore, their broad distribution from boreal to temperate regions allows for tracking of geographic shifts in species ranges.


Macroalgal forests provide a sensitive and well understood indicator of changing coastal marine environments, and are also models for understanding more complex interactions influencing marine communities.


The goal of this WG is to advance the implementation of a monitoring strategy to assess macroalgal communities globally in a standardized, sustained, innovative and cost-effective way allowing for capacity development and technology transfer to scientists in developing countries.

How the Macroalgal Communities WG contributes to POGO priority areas

  • Lead innovation in making observations that contribute to global observing (Priority 1) by developing a strategy to build and implement an observing system of macroalgal ecosystems
  • Develop world-wide capacity and nurture new generations of scientists (Priority 2), and promote the importance of sustained systematic observing and evidence-based policy and management of the ocean (Priority 3) by drafting an implementation plan for global macroalgal observations which considers the (i) scientific and societal requirements and impacts, (ii) current capabilities, and (iii) actions required to achieve the plan.  The WG will also draft training schedules for each technology level in the approach, and identify funding sources to establish a training website and to provide training workshops.


Planning the implementation of a global long-term observing and data sharing strategy for macroalgal communities

24 - 26 September 2018, Hobart, Australia


Meeting report published by EOS Earth & Space Science News in Jan 2019.

Project Participants

Working Group leader:


Craig Johnson, IMAS, Australia




Nic Bax, CSIRO/GOOS BioEco, Australia


Inka Bartsch, AWI, Germany


Lisandro Benedetti Cecchi, University of Pisa/GOOS BioEco, Italy


Laura Blamey, University of the Seychelles, Seychelles


Alejandro Buschmann, Universidad de Los Lagos, Chile


Jarrett Byrnes, UMB, USA


Melinda Coleman, Department of Primary Industries, Australia


Guillermo Díaz-Pulido, Griffiths, Australia


Rodrigo Garza Pérez, UNAM, Mexico


Graham Edgar, UTAS, Australia


Emma Flukes, UTAS, Australia


Catriona Hurd, IMAS, Australia


Daniel Ierodiaconou, Deakin University, Australia


Eduardo Klein, USB, Venezuela and AIMS, Australia


Brenda Konar, University of Alaska at Fairbanks, USA


Kira Krumhansl, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canada


Vanessa Lucieer, UTAS, Australia


Nova Mieszkowska, MBA, UK


Patricia Miloslavich, UTAS / GOOS BioEco, Australia


Nick Murray, University of New South Wales, Australia


Kjell Magnus Norderhaug, IMR, Norway


Shaojun Pang, IOCAS, China


Ester Serrao, Universidade do Algarve, Portugal


Isabel Sousa-Pinto, University of Porto, Portugal


Peter Steinberg, UNSW, Australia


Rick Stuart-Smith, UTAS, Australia


Peter Walsh, UTAS, Australia


Thomas Wernberg, UWA, Australia

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