Networking Friday with MISSION ATLANTIC

On April 30th, 2021, 1-3 PM UTC, we will have a very special Networking Friday with MISSION ATLANTIC.  Patrizio Mariani (Institut for Akvatiske Ressourcer – DTU Aqua), Saskia Otto (Universität Hamburg), Sergio Floeter (Federal University of Santa Catarina), Roland Proud (University of St Andrews), and David Reid (Marine Institute) will show how the MISSION ATLANTIC project is contributing to a better and more sustainable future for life on Earth by studying the complexity of Atlantic Ocean ecosystems, maritime culture, traditions and sustainable management.

Funded through Horizon 2020, the MISSION ATLANTIC Project will improve our understanding of Atlantic Ocean ecosystems and drivers of change that impact marine biodiversity and ocean resources, through the development of the Integrated Ecosystems Assessments (IEAs). IEAs help decision makers to balance the need for protecting the ocean and the need to use ocean resources, and as a result, develop better management plans. IEAs go beyond observing ecosystem status. Engaging scientists, marine stakeholders, and resource managers, the process enables the identification and evaluation of ecosystem components most at risk from natural hazards and the consequences of human activities. This knowledge, and the new data and models developed, provide the much-needed evidence to support managers and policy makers in their decision-making, and balances the need for environmental protection with secure, sustainable development. This ensures a positive future for the Atlantic Ocean and its peoples. MISSION ATLANTIC will be the first large scale initiative to develop operational IEAs and systematically apply them through the Atlantic basin and regional case studies (Download MISSION ATLANTIC project factsheet).


  • 1:00 PM UTC: Patrizio Mariani, A mission for the Atlantic : Integrated ecosystem assessments of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 1:05 PM UTC: Saskia Otto, How can statistical tools for ecosystem status assessments, driver analysis and tipping point detection feed into risk-vulnerability assessments?
  • 1:25 PM UTC: Roland Proud, Biogeography of the Atlantic Ocean: Mapping ocean provinces and boundaries.
  • 1:45 PM UTC: Sergio Floeter, Biodiversity and connectivity in small Atlantic islands.
  • 2:05 PM UTC: Dave Reid, Integrated Ecosystem Analysis in Mission Atlantic.
  • 2:25 PM UTC: Q&A
  • 2:58 PM UTC: Patrizio Mariani, Closing remarks.


Saskia Otto

Saskia Otto

How can statistical tools for ecosystem status assessments, driver analysis and tipping point detection feed into risk-vulnerability assessments?

Risk assessments are used to quantify the probability of undesirable events along with their consequences and can help to prioritize management interventions and assess tradeoffs. Depending on the data and knowledge availability assessments can be conducted in a qualitative, semi-quantitative and fully quantitative way. However, independent of the assessment mode, knowledge on the current ecosystem status, the species responses to changes in external conditions and potential interactions and feedback loops causing major alternations of the system is crucial and can help reducing the uncertainty. In this talk, I will provide an overview of statistical methods that can be applied to assess state, drivers and tipping points for marine systems. I will demonstrate how these results can then be incorporated into qualitative to quantitative risk and vulnerability assessments to improve our ability to characterize uncertainty and impacts associated with future pressure changes.

Dr. Saskia Otto is a senior researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Marine Ecosystem and Fishery Science, University of Hamburg, where she is currently developing a data science program for the Bachelor and Master programs within the Biology Department. Saskia has been working in the field of marine and freshwater ecology since her academic studies as researcher and consultant with a broad focus ranging from fish ecophysiology, diversity of marine temperate fouling communities, management of coral reefs and impacts of heavy metal pollution in the tropics to temperate freshwater fish communities and brackish pelagic food webs in recent years.

Her current research focuses on statistical modeling tools for understanding the spatio-temporal dynamics of single populations to entire food webs in pelagic systems. Here, her main interest is the nature of non-linear dynamics and how multiple stressors act at multiple scales leading to sudden shifts in ecosystem structure and functioning with potential socio-economic consequences. One of her key aims is to improve ecosystem-based management by feeding ecological insights into a more integrated assessment approach and providing indicator frameworks and tools for managers such as R packages and shiny webtools. She is currently co-leading work packages in the EU-funded project “MISSION ATLANTIC” and 2 national BMBF/DFG-funded projects (“HumboldTipping” and “balt_ADAPT”) that all focus on ecosystem state assessments, non-linear dynamics in state-pressure relationships and the development of indicators for management.

She is also co-chair of the ICES working groups WGIAB (Working Group on the Integrated Assessment of the Baltic) and WGCERP (Working Group on Common Ecosystem Reference Points) and since this year she is the German alternate member in the ICES scientific committee (SCICOM).

Roland Proud

Roland Proud

Biogeography of the Atlantic Ocean: Mapping ocean provinces and boundaries

Alan Longhurst in his seminal “Ecological Geography of the Sea” stated that a biogeography should “Describe how, and suggest why individual species from bacterioplankton to whales are distributed in all oceans and seas”. But in a period of such rapid change, in which ecosystems are responding to the complex interplay of global weather systems and currents, is such a description possible or even practical? Global biogeography presents us with a means to comprehend such change and study emergent properties of complex and interacting ecosystems. Regional conditions are expected to shift and even exist in multiple states. But physical oceanic boundaries such as fronts, which partition distinct biological communities, are predicted to be more stable over long periods of time. Rising temperatures will likely promote the poleward shift of non-planktic organisms across these boundaries, prompting pan-oceanic shifts in ecosystem structure. It is at these boundaries, where environmental conditions change significantly over relatively small spatial scales, where the winners and losers of climate change will likely be decided.

To study and predict future change in the ocean we must first understand the mechanisms that partition and structure marine ecosystems. One of the main goals in the EU-funded H2020 BG8 MISSION ATLANTIC project is to map the vertical domains of marine ecosystems, from the surface to the deep ocean, and identify linkages between them. In this talk, I will focus on Atlantic Ocean biogeography, application of emerging techniques (e.g., Wave Glider) to collect data across important oceanic boundaries, and using 3D models to predict change in pelagic community distributions.

Dr. Roland Proud (@rolandproud) is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of St Andrews in Scotland (since June 2016), and a member of the Pelagic Ecology Research Group. He holds a PhD in Marine Ecology, an MPhys in Physics and Astrophysics and an MRes in Ecosystem-based Management of Marine Systems. His research focuses on using machine learning methods to extract ecologically meaningful information from big data. He is currently working on two EU-funded projects (“SUMMER” and “MISSION ATLANTIC”) and a NERC-funded Changing Arctic Oceans project (“MiMeMo”) studying the distribution of mesopelagic organisms (fish and zooplankton that inhabit the 200 to 1000m depth zone). Through work funded by a Royal Society International collaboration award he is also working alongside fisheries researchers in East Africa, supporting capacity building to improve stock assessment methods. He is an editor for the ICES Journal of Marine Science, has led international expeditions and has taught python, R and marine science to a wide range of pupils. Most recently, Roland has been developing new methods to improve global estimates of mesopelagic fish biomass.

Sergio Floeter

Sergio Floeter

Biodiversity and connectivity in small Atlantic islands

The biogeography and macroecology of reef fishes have advanced considerably in the last decade thanks to the assembly of large global datasets on species distributions, abundance, biomass, and fish behaviour. In this talk, I will present a general overview of research results that emerged from international working groups focused primarily on these important players on reef environments: fishes. I will also show the advances in knowledge (e.g. evolutionary relationships, connectivity, spatial patterns of fish biomass, and conservation issues), focusing on the small and isolated Atlantic oceanic islands.

Prof. Sergio Floeter is Associate Professor at UFSC in southern Brazil (2006–). He did his PhD in Ecology at UENF (Brazil), and Post-Doc at NCEAS-UCSB (USA). He is the coordinator of the Brazilian Marine Biodiversity Network and the Marine Macroecology and Biogeography Lab at UFSC, south Brazil. Co-PI on the Long Term Ecological Research of Brazilian Oceanic Islands. Sergio works with reef fish ecology, biogeography and evolution of reef fishes, connectivity patterns among reef populations, marine macroecology, coral reef conservation, and trophic ecology. He has co-authored over 110 peer reviewed publications, with over 6800 citations. His h-factor is 42 (38 since 2016). He teaches vertebrate zoology, conservation, community ecology, macroecology, biogeography, science writing and communication, and reef fish ecology and conservation. He is also part of the Expert IUCN – Brazilian reef fish Red Listing.

David Reid

David Reid

Integrated Ecosystem Analysis in Mission Atlantic

The presentation will describe the IEA methodology applied and developed for Mission Atlantic. The start point is with a scoping exercise looking at broad categories of human activities, the pressures that they exert, and the ecosystem components they impact. The approach is based on that developed for the ODEMM (Options for Delivering Ecosystem-Based Marine Management) EU project. It involves identifying linkages from activity -> pressure -> impact, and then scoring these for scale (temporal, spatial, and degree of impact), persistence and resilience. The system is based on data where it exists, but is designed be inclusive and holistic, so can use inputs as qualitative as expert judgements. The results of this provide risk scores for each linkage, or component. The MA approach is then to examine the top risks in more detail, following a qualitative, semi quantitative and fully quantitative pathway a la Holsmann et al (2017). The framework can also be linked through to Ecosystem Goods and Services, or to legislative objectives.

Prof. David Reid is the Principle Investigator on Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management within the Fisheries Ecology Advisory Services Programme at the Marine Institute (MI), Galway, Ireland. He has worked for over 30 years in fisheries management first at the Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen, Scotland (now Marine Science Scotland) and at the MI since 2009. His work ranges over Fisheries sustainability, fishing capacity and effort, industry collaboration, as well as Integrated Ecosystem Assessment and Risk Analysis. He has a strong involvement with ICES, including chairing a range of Working Groups and Workshops, as well as chairing the Science Steering Group on Integrated Ecosystem Assessment for four years. He has been involved in over 20 EU funded projects, in two cases as scientific coordinator, as well as several Nationally funded projects. He has co-authored over 150 peer reviewed publications, with 5583 citations (2165 since 2016). His h-factor is 42 (23 since 2016). He is Adjunct Professor at University College Cork, Ireland.


Patrizio Mariani

Dr. Patrizio Mariani is Senior Researcher at the Technical University of Denmark, Head of the Ocean Observation Technology research group at the National Institute of Aquatic Resources (DTU Aqua), president and scientific coordinator of EUROMARINE and coordinator of the H2020 project MISSION ATLANTIC. He holds a PhD in Marine Science and Engineering and performs research across ocean technology and ecological modeling.

His research focuses on the development of models, methods and technologies for the complex ocean system with cross-disciplinary approach and questions ranging from ecological to evolutionary time scales. Ecosystem modeling: Physical-biological coupling and ecology of plankton and fish, physical dispersion, population dynamics, behavioural models and animals’ migrations. Ocean technology and automation: Software and sensors development for underwater observation technologies, robotics, adaptive sampling, computer vision, optical and acoustic sensors. He is responsible for the course on applied ocean technology for the master in Aquatic Science and Technology at DTU.


Tania Li Chen

I would like to thank Tania Li Chen (AIR Centre), who actually did all the work behind the organization of this session. Without her would have been difficult, if not impossible, to put together this fantastic panel.

We will continue with the Networking Fridays during the next months. More information about future sessions as well as presentations and videos from previous sessions can be found here. Twitter Hashtag: #netfridays. Expect some very exciting afternoons, or mornings or evenings, depending on where you are…

If you need any additional information please send an email to Jose Luiz Moutinho.

Image Gallery

You may be also interested in…

Networking Friday with Isabel Sousa Pinto (CIIMAR / GEO MBON), who presented CIIMAR’s  most interesting projects and also showed how us GEO MBON is helping us to understand how and why life in the ocean is changing and how local changes relate to changes taking place over larger regions.. This session was moderated by Sheila Heymans.

Networking Friday with Martin Visbeck, who discussed the Future Ocean Sustainability – From Ocean Observation towards Sustainable Development. The session was moderated by Isabel Sousa Pinto.

Networking Friday Special Session on Sargassum with Cesar Toro (IOCARIBE of IOC-UNESCO), Karima Degia (UWI), Sandra Ketelhake (AtlantOS, KDM), Isabel Sousa Pinto (CIIMAR, GEO MBON), and Leah Mupas Segui (GEO Blue Planet Initiative). The moderator was Emily Smail (NOAA, GEO Blue Planet Initiative).