This initiative stems from the previous French network of Research MarCo (Marine Connectivity1), which triggered interactions among research communities involved in the understanding of marine connectivity (i.e. demographic and/or evolutionary interdependency) assessment using tools corresponding to different fields of expertise. The aim was and remains to promote and maintain communication and collaborative projects among scientists from a broad spectrum of complementary fields including physical oceanography modelling, microchemistry, genetics and evolutionary ecology, behavior, tagging, fisheries, aquaculture…
The core objective of this GDRi is to advance one step further in the integration of data and methods issued from the different thematic fields involved in the study of connectivity, in order to enhance our understanding of the spatial and temporal dynamics of populations and communities and to improve management of exploited and endangered species and ecosystems. The GDRi will build upon progresses made during recent years in terms of analytical, modelling and molecular tools to pursue the methodological and interdisciplinary efforts to integrate data and inferences from distinct sources, including advances realized by the consortium involved in the former GDR MarCo (Gagnaire et al., 2015; Pante et al., 2015; Lagabrielle et al., 2014).
Based on annual meetings, working groups, thematic workshops, synthesis and facilitation of student exchanges developed here below, the GDRi will provide a framework to promote the transfer of knowledge and methodological synthesis with operational transfer to policy makers.
The integration of European partners from countries that spread most of the European waters (Atlantic: Scotland; North Sea Belgium; Oriental basin of the Mediterranean Sea: Greece) in addition to the now well federated national group involved in the GDR MarCo, and collaborators from North Africa, will allow enlarging the range of expertise in terms of oceanographic modelling, fisheries, seascape genetics and genomics. Besides, the interest of the different partners in applied research dealing with environmental health, fisheries and aquaculture, will trigger collaborations to develop projects at the European scale both for the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coastlines, in particular in the EU funding framework H2020.
The ultimate objectives are
- to integration of different approaches in a single framework to move toward an unified framework and the development of "toolbox". This framework and toolbox will help understanding and teasing apart past and present migratory movements in relation to habitat fragmentation and climate changes (past and present).
- to facilitate the communication of methods, results and interpretation toward managers, stakeholders, and Agencies involved in the design and survey of networks of marine Protected Areas
1 Definition by Cowen et al., 2007: Population connectivity refers to the exchange of individuals among geographically separated subpopulations that constitute a metapopulation. Set in the context of benthic-oriented marine species, population connectivity encompasses the dispersal phase from reproduction to the completion of the settlement process (including habitat choice and metamorphosis).
2 Landscape connectivity by Taylor et al., 1993 : "the degree to which the landscape facilitates or impedes movement among resource patches".