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Note from the Principal Investigator

Published: 09 February 2017

Paul Somerfield sampling at seaMost components of MERP have less than a year and a half still to run. To these can now be added three newly funded bodies of work. The ERSEM development work led by Jorn Bruggeman (PML) has been funded for an additional two years. This work will build on developments made within the Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry (SSB) programme and MERP to address questions concerning the role of species diversity, understanding spatio-temporal variability (e.g. macro-ecological patterns), system function (top-down and bottom-up controls, trophic transfer), and the interaction between diversity and spatial heterogeneity.

Two other new bodies of work have also been funded, to run alongside current activities. The first, led by Mike Heath (University of Strathclyde) looks at trade-offs aiming to expose the monetary and non-monetary implications of potential trade-offs among different uses of the sea, to determine the ways in which trade-offs may be exacerbated or alleviated by social, economic and cultural factors. To do this the project will work closely with stakeholders to scope the potential of a range of marine management options to alleviate conflicts and to work towards maximising the overall value of marine natural capital.

The other, led by Tom Webb (University of Sheffield) examines cumulative impacts and aims to explore how extensive empirical data, statistical and mechanistic modelling, and expert judgement, can be translated into both context-specific guidance and generic principles for marine management. While much of this additional work involves people already working within MERP, we welcome those who are joining the programme, bringing specific expertise to help us deliver our goals. A summary of both can be found in the Research section.

The fact that we already have a large programme of activities underway, to which we are adding considerable additional effort, means that we have to be conscious of time and our ability to deliver on all fronts. We need to be efficient.  A major emphasis of the programme throughout has been integration, working together in self-assembling cross-disciplinary teams to address the types of questions that cannot be answered by individuals working on their own. 

My hope is that over coming months we can use this approach to develop a range of scientific papers demonstrating how the linking of different components (data, empirical work, models, services) is beneficial to both scientists and to their ability to deliver novel science. Everyone should be as inclusive as possible and should think strategically, considering which elements of the science will be easier to deliver sooner, with full support from the programme for integrative activities, and which can be delivered later, beyond the end of the programme. The programme exists to support this kind of activity, so now is the time to do it. If support is needed, for a workshop for example, contact the MERP Project Office and we will see what we can do.

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