HABs in Benthic Systems
The GEOHAB Science Plan (GEOHAB, 2001) and the GEOHAB Implementation Plan (GEOHAB, 2003) specified, among other activities, the formation of Core Research Projects (CRPs) to address comparative, integrative, multi-faceted and international research on HABs. Since GEOHAB was designed to be open to questions that HAB researchers would identify during the life of the programme, it was evident mid-way through the programme that a new CRP on Harmful Algal Blooms in Benthic Systems was an important one for several reasons.
First, BHABs appear to be impacting a wider area in recent years. Second, the increased attention to the BHAB phenomenon highlighted the disparity in our knowledge of the ecology of the species associated with the microphytobenthos compared to phytoplanktonic species. A third driver for the new CRP on BHABs is the opportunity to share the collective experience and expertise accumulated over the years on tropical and subtropical benthic HABs. This line of inquiry can be particularly useful in view of the recent expansion of BHAB problems to temperate areas. Discoveries over the last 5-7 years have brought new researchers into the field, with a considerable increase in related publications. The establishment of an international program that can coordinate information and data sharing of different science communities, many of which are geographically separated, is the objective of the BHAB CRP.
Based on an international Open Science meeting held 21-23 June 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, the following priorities were developed for the BHAB CRP.
The merging of the benthic ecological perspective with the GEOHAB comparative
approach will assist in addressing the main steps that will contribute to the understanding and prediction of harmful microphytobenthic events. The CRP approach will be to:
• determine the primary physiological, genetic, environmental or behavioral processes that regulate cellular growth and toxicity
• define common characteristics, including the groupings of harmful species from similar habitat types and identification of functional groups
• identify the important physical and chemical factors that control abundance and distribution over appropriate temporal and spatial scales
• inform conceptual and numerical models that help to predict BHAB events
• develop and validate technologies for detailed and extensive monitoring and establish real-time observation platforms
The Science Plan for the Core Research Project in Harmful Algal Blooms in Benthic Systems will be launched late summer 2012.
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