Oceans encompass more than 95 per cent of Earth’s biosphere, and their massive volume and remoteness ensure we will not fully quantify their biodiversity in our lifetimes.
Estimates of marine biodiversity suggest that between 33 and 90 per cent of animals remain unknown to science, and while human pressures on the ocean will almost certainly increase in the future, we have little understanding of the role different species play in maintaining ocean health.
That will be the topic of a public lecture to be hosted at Memorial University on Jan. 28. The talk, entitled Marine Biodiversity and the Health of Canada's Oceans, is part of the Canada Ocean Lecture series. It will be presented by Dr. Paul Snelgrove, a professor with the departments of Ocean Sciences and Biology and director of the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada's Canadian Healthy Oceans Network.
"Our knowledge of ocean life decreases with organism size, yet new molecular tools suggest a possible billion unknown microbes, and statistical models suggest thousands of undiscovered fishes," said Dr. Snelgrove. "Although charismatic and commercial species have attracted public concern, few consider the many other species that inhabit ocean environments and help to support us and the species we care about.
"Documented global marine extinctions remain surprisingly rare, but local extinctions and undocumented species loss raise concern about potential loss of diversity and the ecological functions supported by the species."
During the lecture, Dr. Snelgrove will discuss the new tools and approaches which have revolutionized ocean sciences in the last decade, documenting new species, new environments, and new processes that create unprecedented opportunities to improve ocean sustainability.
The Canada Ocean Lecture Series is a joint initiative between Shorefast Foundation and Simon Fraser University in co-operation with Memorial University. The series aims to increase awareness of Canada's vast marine environment and its importance to Canadians.
The public lecture will take place Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. in Bruneau Centre, room IIC-2001. A reception will follow and free parking is available in Lot 15B.