Biodiversity in marine environment: a review and recommendations for research in the environmental and social sciences.

Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Global
Country or countries covered France
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

includes also French overseas territories as well as the issue of deep sea ecosystems

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

Context and scope of the collective expertise: This multidisciplinary scientific assessment, ‘Biodiversity in marine environment : a review and recommendations for research in the environmental and social sciences’ both in French and English, was carried out in response to a need to update research strategies to address the issue of marine biodiversity considering both environmental and social issues. This takes place in a context of strong interest in marine biodiversity, increasing anthropogenic pressures on this biodiversity and emergence of new concepts to prompt for new management options.

Moreover, this collective expertise has taken into account the scientific national prospective on biodiversity research carried out by the “Fondation pour la Recherche en Biodiversité” (FRB), and elaborated under the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR) supervision as a key component of the French National Research and Innovation Strategy (SNRI) (FRB, 2010).

Concomitantly, numerous additional initiatives were underway at the national level, including the ‘Grenelle de la Mer’, a stakeholders’ summit under the French Ministry of Environment supervision to develop a comprehensive marine strategy, as well as the European Union directive implementation on ‘Marine Strategy’ (MFSD) which includes a large stake on biodiversity issues.

This assessment was carried out in 2010 during the international year of the Biodiversity (CBD, 2010), which highlighted the worldwide context of rapid biodiversity erosion, at both terrestrial and marine levels. With regard to oceans, the French EEZ represents the second area at the worldwide level with 11M km², from North Sea to western Mediterranean Sea, from St Pierre et Miquelon islands to Crozet Islands, French Guyana and Antilla, from New Caledonia and French Polynesia to La Reunion Island, therefore bearing large responsabilities for the marine biodiversity future. This collective expertise was supported by the French Ministry of Environment and the French research institute Ifremer.

This multidisciplinary scientific assessment is a support mechanism to establish further research priorities on marine biodiversity and ecosystem services. The assessment was carried out by a group of scientists, with specialists from various disciplines and working for different research organizations. It included specialists in marine ecology, physiology, anthropology, genetics and systematics, paleo-evolution, mathematics, economy and specialists in fishery and aquaculture management and specialists of the deepsea realm. The assessment output resulted in the production of a report summarizing the expert contributions and a synthesis providing recommendations for further five research priorities. The report was also printed as a book format (Fr / En).

The assessment is organized around 9 chapters : (1) Marine biodiversity importance, (2) Anthropogenic impacts, (3) status and trends), (4) conceptualizing biodiversity, (5) measuring biodiversity, (6) drivers of biodiversity, (7) integrated scenarios and policies, (8) research needs, and (9) references. A glossary of terms and web sites is also provided.

Mandate for the assessment

As a public research institute, Ifremer interacts with the French Ministries of Environment, Research and Agriculture to develop its research strategy. This collective expertise was mandated by the Ifremer' CeO to upgrade the research strategy on marine biodiversity and the strategic plan reviewed by the French Ministries. The French Minstry of Environmeent supported financially the expertise costs. The final report of this multidisciplinary assessment was written by a group of scientific experts from France, Australia, UK, USA and Malaysia independently of their employers. Therefore responsability for the contents' report remains solely at the author's level.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Other (please specify)

The methodolgy used is a collective expertise based upon a multidisciplinary scientific assessment. It consists of responding to a complex question by establishing the current state of knowledge surrounding the question using an extensive worldwide literature review. This should include the know facts, uncertainties, gaps in knowledge and controveries. No additional research work is carried out. The collective expertise was carried out by a multidisciplinary expert group of 15 scientists. More than a thousand publications, reports, technical documents were extracted, analysed and summarised to provide elements for the final report. This includes the review of conceptual frameworks already available.

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

No information added

System(s) assessed

  • Marine
  • Coastal
  • Island

Species groups assessed


Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Food
  • Genetic resources


  • Climate regulation
  • Pest and disease control

Supporting Services/Functions

  • Habitat maintenance
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Primary production

Cultural Services

  • Recreation and tourism

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started


Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment


Assessment outputs



P. Goulletquer, P. Gros, G. Boeuf, J. Weber, C. Béné, G. Carvalho, P. Cury, B. David, D. Desbruyères, S. Hanna, L. Doyen, S. Jennings, O. Thébaud, H. Levrel, Biodiversity in marine environment: a review and recommendations for research in the environmental and social sciences.

Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)



Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Modelling
  • Trade-off analysis
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators
  • Scenarios
  • Economic valuation
  • Social (non-monetary) valuation

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

  • initial request
  • building ad-hoc expert group
  • several meetings and in-between desktop work by experts
  • presentation of the final outputs to an independant scientific committee and ifremer's governing body
  • presentation of the results to the French Minstry of Environment -book publication in French and English

Key stakeholder groups engaged

information provided towards - the French Ministries of Research, Environment...French Agency such as the agency in charge of marine protected areas, - the scientific community through the report indexation and mailing

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process


Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Scientific information only

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

Two scientific librarians were dedicated to this this assessment until its completion. They provided a large number of publications, reports, grey literature to support the expert requests. Differents sources of information were used including the web of science, and various databases commonly used by the 'La Pérouse Library Service', a service developed around universities and research institutes contributions.

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

  • The oputputs were directly used to upgrade scientific strategies.

  • Moreover, recommendations were also used to provide recommendations and update the French National strategy on biodiversity with regard to marine issues.

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Interdisciplinary approach are very valuable to address biodiversity issues. However, crossing 'natural' and 'social' scientific approaches requires sufficient time of exchange to be fruitful

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Network and sharing experiences, Sharing of data/repatriation of data, Workshops, Communication and awareness raising

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Mostly through the Ifremer Communication Direction

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

see the conclusions and recommendations provided in the report and book

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Publications - Conferences - Round tables

Additional relevant information