Marine Conservation Biology

“It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist: the threat is rather to life itself.” – Rachel Carson

Marine Conservation Biology is a relatively new field of science, born in 1997, following the First Symposium on Marine Conservation Biology. A marine conservation biologist aims to conserve, protect, or manage marine species and ecosystems, and prevents and/or limits degradation to marine ecosystems and resources from human impact. Scientists in the field use a cross-pollination of disciplines such as oceanography, biology, ecology, economics, marine policy/law, fisheries, and others, to broadly address the negative impacts on marine biological systems. Research topics focus on several areas, some of which include species invasions, pollution, overfishing, population biology, restoration, effects of climate change on species, etc. A variety of tools are used by marine conservation biologists to limit human derived damage on marine ecosystems such as implementation of a marine protected area, population assessments, restoration efforts, and fisheries quotas.

Marine managers and policy makers rely on marine conservation biologists to inform government agencies and other stakeholders on the ecological health of the oceans and to highlight consequences of change to marine systems, and make recommendations on mitigation and adaptation to anthropogenic impacts.

At the Worm Lab, students and postdoctoral fellows are engaged in the study of marine biodiversity, its causes, consequences of change, and conservation of marine resources and ecosystems. Four major questions define the lab’s research:

  • How is marine biodiversity distributed across the globe?

  • How is marine biodiversity changing over time?

  • What are the consequences of biodiversity change?

  • What management solutions really work in preventing biodiversity loss?