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General scope


Marine Functional Connectivity is a dynamic ecosystem property driven by marine organismal movements. It sustains multiple ecological functions and marine ecosystem services through the spatio-temporal fluxes of biomass, genes, and species. Over the last decade, research in this field has progressed substantially, improving our understanding of the variability in marine species' movements, their drivers and their role in the functioning of the biosphere. This knowledge has enabled improved forecasting of social-ecological system responses to global change and human impacts, and the design of more effective strategies for the conservation, management and sustainable development of marine ecosystems, to the benefit of humanity.


The objective of the conference is to bring together a diverse group of multi-skilled experts from around the world to share knowledge, experience and best-practices in the study of marine connectivity and its use to inform future management needs. We aim to review the latest progress and future directions in Marine Functional Connectivity research, and discuss its application to ecosystem and resource management. Keynotes, oral presentations and posters will be selected to showcase the latest advances in Marine Functional Connectivity research, with emphasis on progress made over the last 4 years during the timeframe of the SEA-UNICORN COST Action. Emphasis will also be placed on innovation in methods and tools, and on integrative approaches (1) increasing connectivity understanding at broad taxonomic, temporal and spatial scales, (2) identifying the effects of environmental stressors, and (3) showcasing effective adaptive management strategies based on connectivity knowledge or data.

Theme sessions

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Multi-disciplinary approaches in Marine Functional Connectivity research

Obtaining a comprehensive picture of Marine Functional Connectivity is a multi-layered and complex challenge. The vast, open and three-dimensional nature of the ocean means marine environments are inherently difficult to access, and marine taxa exhibit a diverse array of movements, many of which are extremely challenging to track, reconstruct or predict. However, methods to estimate the distribution and movements of marine species, from diatoms and bacteria to top predators, are constantly evolving and improving, supporting the future progress of this field.


This session calls for studies on the lifetime migrations and/or multigenerational fluxes of marine taxa, through innovative, multidisciplinary approaches that can account for wide interspecific variation in biology and ecology, as well as technical differences in spatio-temporal scale and resolution. Presentations on new approaches and innovative statistical tools to methodically integrate data types, on new quantitative descriptors of Marine Functional Connectivity, and on connectivity at the scales of food-webs, communities or ecosystems are encouraged. Studies on trans-boundary and cross-generational evaluations of Marine Functional Connectivity, the interdependencies between coastal and pelagic systems, and across the land-sea interface, are particularly welcome.



  • Bronwyn Gillanders (Australia)

  • Katell Guizien (France)

  • Cécile Fauvelot (France)

  • Anna Sturrock (UK)

  • Susanne Tanner (Portugal)

  • Filip Volckaert (Belgium)

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Marine Functional Connectivity research and the global functioning and health of the Ocean

Although most of the main threats to the oceans are now monitored, the underlying mechanisms by which they affect marine systems remain largely unknown. As the ongoing loss of marine biodiversity compromises the global functioning of the marine realm, a multidimensional understanding of key ecological processes is urgently needed to track the mechanisms of action from pressure exposure to ecological response. In particular, our ability to accurately model MFC patterns at the community or ecosystem level will underpin accurate prediction of the future evolution of marine resources and ecosystems.


This session calls for innovative work identifying general trends in Marine Functional Connectivity, or its drivers and ecological role, to anticipate how marine biodiversity and ecosystem functions will respond to global change and human activities at local and biogeographic scales. Contributions may include studies that are field- and/or laboratory-based, model-based, or any combination of these.


Research topics may focus on, but are not limited to, movement and behavioral ecology, food-web structure and functioning, biogeochemical cycles, (meta) community and (meta)population dynamics, and the development of innovative analytical methods and tools to investigate these processes. Special attention will be given to studies considering the effects of human activities (including climate change) on Marine Functional Connectivity, and on research highlighting impacts on ecosystem functions and services.



  • Stéphanie D'Agata (France)

  • Amber Childs (South Africa)

  • Manuel Hidalgo (Spain)

  • Thomas Lamy (France)

  • Fabien Leprieur (France)

  • Lucía López López (Spain)

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Marine Functional Connectivity knowledge use for improved environmental policies and sustainable development

The concept of connectivity is gradually being incorporated into environmental governance objectives and management strategies worldwide. However, the science and management of connectivity in marine systems is less advanced than in terrestrial systems, and the environmental policies and laws that support Marine Functional Connectivity or recognize its importance are still scarce. Marine conservation planning applications rarely include connectivity as a priority ecological criterion, and community or ecosystem level connectivity is largely overlooked in decision-making for fisheries management, marine conservation and policy. Because marine ecosystems are largely interconnected, good governance, globally accepted targets, sustainable Blue Growth and adequate environmental safeguarding will require integrated connectivity knowledge at a range of scales to reduce negative anthropogenic impacts


This session aims to showcase real-world examples of effective Marine Functional Connectivity data use for decision-making to support marine conservation planning at all scales (national, regional or international). Studies highlighting how the ecological, biophysical and social dimensions of connectivity can (or have) informed marine management are particularly welcome, as are those presenting innovative spatialized ecosystem-based decision support tools or frameworks.



  • Maria Beger (UK)

  • Andreu Blanco (Spain)

  • David Goldsborough (the Netherlands)

  • Ewan Hunter (UK)

  • Yael Teff-Seker (USA)

  • Ant Türkmen (Italy)

Pictures: Aline Tribollet

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