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Mobilising MERP data

15 February 2017

In order to understand changes in the UK marine ecosystems, one of MERP’s main aims has been to make better use of existing data. This existing information comes from multiple sources and fetching, combining and analyzing it has required developing dedicated programmatic tools. R is a free statistical and programming software, as well as a programming language in its own right. The...

Kelp's heating up!

15 February 2017

We know that marine ecosystems provide a large number of ecosystem services that are dependent on their biodiversity and ecological functioning. Environmental change, including increased temperatures and storminess, threaten to alter these ecological functions and services. Globally, primary production (energy harnessed from the sun) is dominated by phytoplankton (microscopic marine organisms...

The BESS of beginnings for MERP

14 February 2017

  It should be no surprise that MERP and the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Sustainability programme (BESS) share many features – they were forged in the same furnace. In 2008, an intensive 2-day workshop drew in researchers from the marine, freshwater and terrestrial communities, to create a large-scale programme dealing with the linkages between biodiversity and ecosystem...

Identifying impact with ERSEM

14 February 2017

  MERP models will be used to predict the ecosystem response to a number of scenarios, covering changes in nutrient loading, fishing pressure and climate change. To ensure we capture the cascade of changes from hydrodynamics, nutrients and plankton to fish, sea birds and marine mammals, 3D simulations of ERSEM in the UK shelf seas are used to quantify the changes in habitat (temperature...

Trait Explorer: traits for any marine species

14 February 2017

Part of MERP is dedicated to the characterisation of organism traits, such as size, predator-prey preference and physiological rates. For this purpose, we search existing databases and published papers (Module 1) and perform new experiments (Module 2). Trait information is needed to parameterize organism physiology and behaviour in models and translate species abundances into community-averaged...

Development of the StrathE2E model

13 February 2017

  Since March 2016, we have been consolidating a raft of new developments into the StrathE2E model, some arising from improved understanding of ecological processes, and others to meet specific needs in MERP. At the easy-end of the scale, these include the addition of different types of sediment detritus, changes in the way in which food consumption by birds and mammals is represented, and...

Understanding trade-offs to maximise the benefits from living marine natural capital (Module 7)

10 February 2017

  A new project has been funded within the overarching Marine Ecosystem Research Programme (MERP), following a call from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for proposals in September 2016. The call text for this body of work was: “Application of the novel tools and frameworks for decision support developed in MERP's Work Packages 1&2 to explore the trade...

Cumulative impacts and management of marine ecosystems (Module 8) 

10 February 2017

  MERP has always had the ambition not only to increase scientific understanding of marine ecosystems, but also to apply this understanding to the sustainable management of our seas. In MERP Work Package 3, which started in January, this focus on the application of MERP science takes centre stage. The project that I lead seeks to understand in particular how multiple activities interact to...


10 February 2017

  In December 2016 MERP kindly funded my attendance to the 2nd International Marine Science Communication Conference in Bruges, Belgium. Named CommOcean, this gathering of science communication practitioners and scientists aims to provide a dynamic environment for discussions on marine science communication best-practice, innovation and support. The two-day event welcomed approximately 180...

Note from the Principal Investigator

09 February 2017

  Most 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...

National Resources Wales webinar

09 February 2017

  In the current world it’s easy to get despondent about the use of evidence and data in decision making. But there is hope and many government organisations remain firmly committed to being evidence-based. This is why it’s vital that projects like MERP talk to policy and decision makers and that the latter understand how to use the information provided. In an ideal world this...


02 February 2017

Scientists in MERP are researching the sources, fates and stores of primary production in coastal sediment, and how it is buried and locked away in the sediment or quickly turned over to be released back into the water column. In related work drivers exacerbated by climate change and local human activities that affect these processes (such as coastal low oxygen conditions and ocean...

New funding for MERP

11 October 2016

Following the NERC call for proposals to fulfil the final part of the Marine Ecosystem Research Programme’s activities through “Work Package 3: Application of models developed to test the impact and efficiency of potential management solutions”, two new projects have been funded.  Through a competitive funding call open to all members of the Consortium, Mike Heath...

Marine Management Organisation Evidence Strategy Part 2 is published

16 September 2016

The Marine Management Organisation’s (MMO) Evidence Strategy 2015 to 2020, sets out our evidence requirements and how they will be delivered over the next five years, increasing access to high quality research and improving understanding of the marine environment.

Video introducing the work of MERP is now available

27 July 2016

A short introductiory video has been produced about the work of MERP. With special thanks to Dr Paul Somerfield, Dr Matt Frost, Jessica Heard, Dr Ana Querios, Dr Leigh Howarth, Dr Jorn Bruggeman, Dr Yuri Artioli, Dr Sevrine Sailley, Dawn Ashby and Kelvin Boot for their essential and valued input.    

Streamlining the analysis and enrichment of existing data

27 July 2016

A founding principle of MERP is that using existing data more efficiently and effectively is key to understanding the temporal and spatial dynamics of marine biodiversity. This is especially true for Britain’s marine environment: the intimate connection we have with our seas - economic, scientific and cultural - has left an extraordinary legacy of observations and measurements of marine...

Stakeholder Advisory Group update

27 July 2016

A core element of any research programme is ensuring that the results of the work are utilised beyond the scientific community – what is most commonly referred to as achieving ‘impact’. This is especially the case for programmes such as the Marine Ecosystems Research Programme, which is addressing issues of fundamental importance to stakeholders such as understanding drivers...

Note from the Principal Investigator

27 July 2016

While a week may be considered a long time in politics (and by jiminy what a couple of weeks we’ve had in that arena, with more to come), the scales in time and space over which the Marine Ecosystems Research Programme operates seem to ebb and flow. Some simple things seem to take an age, while other complex tasks fall into place with no trouble at all in the blink of an eye. The major...

Grab it, Dredge it, Weigh it: Investigating benthic size spectra

27 July 2016

It’s only been a year since I joined MERP, yet already I have spent two whole months working at sea exploring benthic ecosystems in the Celtic Sea. Using Bangor University’s Research Vessel, The Prince Madog, we have sampled all across Devon, Cornwall, Bristol Channel and Pembrokeshire. By deploying a series of grabs, dredges and nets we have managed to capture the full size spectra...

Charismatic marine predators

27 July 2016

Charismatic marine predators, which include seabirds, cetaceans and pinnipeds, face continuous threats from climate change alongside offshore developments and activities. Yet risk assessments focussing on these potential threats are often clouded with uncertainty – uncertainty that is linked to a limited understanding of what dictates the distributions of these species in time and space...

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