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Report of the first BioDivMex Workshop in Marseille

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BioDivMex workshop report (BioDiversity of the Mediterranean eXperiment) November 8th and 9th 2011, Marseille


[([/BioDivMeX first workshop held in Marseille, November 8th and 9th 2011. /]


BioDivMex program is one of the 7 MISTRALS (Mediterranean Integrated STudies at Regional And Local Scales) axes. BioDivMex program aims to monitor specific biodiversity of Mediterranean region. BioDivMex focuses particularly on Mediterranean biodiversity (MBD) vulnerability to anthropic and climatic pressures which often have negative impacts on habitats and in fine on animal, vegetal and microbial communities’ diversity. Thierry Gauquelin was commissioned by CNRS/INEE (Institut d’Ecologie et d’Environnement) to support BioDivMex program.

*Workshop aim

Workshop aims were :

  1. Assemble a scientific community from Mediterranean basin working on MBD problematic. This original approach allowed researchers working on marine ecosystems and researches working on terrestrial ecosystem to meet each other (communities that rarely mix) in order to build bridges between these two disciplines.
  2. To review, by country, researches carried out on MBD and to identify strength, needs and locks.
  3. To present international projects on researches already conducted at Mediterranean basin (MB) scale.
  4. Through the roundtable, identify some axes, priorities, and make recommendations in order to reinforce research activities, hence on means allocated to MBD research.


During the workshop, 52 persons working in research field (27 on terrestrial ecosystems, 24 on marine ecosystems and 1 historian) and 4 biodiversity managers (“Mediterranean Forest”, “PIM initiative”) were present. Table 1 summarizes presences according to the area of interest (marine, terrestrial ecosystems or otherwise) and country. Oral communications were of 3 types i) three global presentations on biodiversity ii) 18 synthesis concerning researches conducted on biodiversity per country (table 2), note that the marine environment has not been accounted for Morocco, neither the terrestrial for Turkey iii) 12 study cases (table 3, page 8).

  • Table 1 : Sum-up of presences at BioDivMex workshop, according to the area of interest and country. * 4 biodiversity managers and 1 historian.
Table 1
Morocco 2 0 0
Algeria 1 1 0
Tunisia 1 1 0
Lebanon 1 1 0
Turkey 0 1 0
Greece 1 1 0
Malta 1 1 0
Italia 1 1 0
France 16 16 5*
Spain 1 1 0
  • Table 2 : Sum-up of synthesis oral communications concerning researches conducted on biodiversity per area of interest (marine or terrestrial) and per country. Note that the marine environment has not been accounted for Morocco, neither the terrestrial for Turkey.
Table 2 : Sum-up of synthesis oral communications concerning researches conducted on biodiversity per area of interest (marine or terrestrial) and per country. Note that the marine environment has not been accounted for Morocco, neither the terrestrial for Turkey.
Morocco 1 0
Algeria 1 1
Tunisia 1 1
Lebanon 1 1
Turkey 0 1
Greece 1 1
Malta 1 1
Italia 1 1
France 1 1
Spain 1 1

Over the two days meeting several key points, common to the various participants, emerged :

From a fundamental point of view
  • Specificity and originality of Mediterranean basin
  • Marine and terrestrial approaches complementarity
  • Need to develop innovative approaches on Mediterranean environment
From a practical point of view
  • Need for training
  • Collaboration development (south-south, south-north, north-south and north-north)
  • Lack of some tools, especially link tools (website, cartography, database etc…).)]

**Fundamental aspects

Specificity and originality of Mediterranean basin :

Mediterranean basin (MB) constitutes a highly original environment with specific issues. BM exhibits a huge diversity of habitats which have a high taxonomic and/or functional richness. Interventions of Frederic Médail (Aix-Marseille University - CNRS, France) on biodiversity hotspots at MB scale, of Magda Bou Dagher (University of St Joseph, Lebanon) at a country scale, of Jean Vacelet (Aix-Marseille university - CNRS, France) or of J. Borg (University of Malta, Malta) on submarine caves, and of Nadine Le Bris (Pierre et Marie Curie University - CNRS, France) on deep marine ecosystems illustrated MBD richness. Due to its geographical and climatic location, MB will suffer (is suffering), as a pioneer, global change effects on biodiversity, hence MB constitutes a pertinent model to study their effects. In this context, comparison between extreme and highly stressed environments, e. g. high mountain or deep marine ecosystems, is of major interest.
The workshop also helped to emphasize the strong anthropic pressure that is experienced by the Mediterranean coast, whilst not forgetting urban biodiversity that develops (Audrey Marco, Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Paysage de Versailles, France).
Comparison between countries of south Mediterranean shore, where pressure is still intense (Wadi Badri, Hassan University II, Morocco) and those of north Mediterranean shore, where land abandonment causes other problems, must be encouraged.
Lastly, the need to take into account social and societal dimension in biodiversity issues emerged repeatedly.

Marine and terrestrial environments complementarity approaches

The common presence of researchers from marine and terrestrial environments constituted the originality of the workshop. We were able to establish that these two communities, that rarely exchange, had common issues and expectations. On the other hand, terrestrial and marine environment continuity at the watersheds scale is a promising route (especially for pollution issues).

Need to develop innovative researches :

**Practical aspects


During these two days it appeared that there were high expectations in terms of training. These training needs, expressed on various occasions (including colleagues from the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean), concern several areas :

  • Taxonomy
    Some taxa are very poorly known and in some countries there is no specialist able to make their inventory, still partial and to be verified. Targeted training is then needed in this area. For other groups better known, needs are expressed in terms of taxonomy advanced upgrade, discipline in constant evolution. Finally, needs are also expressed on inventory methods and sampling, or samples.
  • General knowledge on Mediterranean Basin
    General training on issues concerning MB, both in terms of human impact (past and current dynamics) on biodiversity and of biogeography (even phylogeography), is to be developed. Comparison of similar ecosystems, spread throughout the Mediterranean, seems fundamental and very instructive for training.
    For the implementation of these programs, several solutions have been proposed, which are to encourage co-supervised training, training in different language, including Arabic.
    Collaborations between Mediterranean universities should also be considered, either by teachers mobility, or by students mobility that would meet in a same university to take courses (international Master for example) and then would effectuate their stages in different part of MB. Some initiatives already exit, such as training on flora in Arabic language (Tunisia, 2012) ; training on taxonomy of some groups (study of cetaceans at the St Joseph university, Lebanon) ; exchange between teachers from one to another Mediterranean shore (University of Sfax in Tunisia, regularly receives Frédéric Médail and Franck Torre to give training).
    One of the actions that could develop BioDivMex in short terms in this perspective would be the organization, in 2012, of a “summer school” for teachers-researches, researches, PhD student or post-doc researches. This type of training also has the major advantage to create link and foster the emergence of a more interactive community working on MBD issues.
Collaborations :

International collaborations must be improved and encouraged. A study on abstracted literature showed that they were too rare. Including collaborations between the two shores of MB, even more those between South Mediterranean countries, difficult to assessed from abstracted literature. Existing collaborations are generally in the north-south direction, it is also necessary that South Mediterranean countries can propose international projects, as suggested by Samir Grimes (ENSSMAL, Algeria). Similarly, when south-south collaborations exist, they often exist through international organizations. South-south collaborations nevertheless exist, such as collaborations Morocco-Tunisia that concern several areas. Lebanon-Syria collaborations also led to concrete results. Eventually, it would be useful to speak of "Mediterranean collaborations" set up in the Barcelona Convention. Studies case presented during the workshop highlighted the interest and the necessity for such international collaboration and their effectiveness. Table 3 shows the 12 case studies presented at the workshop, specifying (if any) what the collaborations for these projects are.

Table 3 : Study case presented during BioDivMex workshop.

Table 3
Marine Invasive micro-algae France, Tunisia, Algeria, Spain, Italy
Marine Biodiversity history
Marine Sub-marine cave
Marine Polychaetes and amphipods taxonomy
Marine Deep-marine ecosystems
Terrestrial Urban ecosystems
Terrestrial Soil France, Morocco
Terrestrial Soil France, Morocco
Terrestrial Genomic database France, Bosnia
Terrestrial Network of monitoring plots Mediterranean basin
Terrestrial Fire France, Tunisia, Spain
Terrestrial PIM Mediterranean basin
Tools lack
  • Database
    The evidence that there was a lack of a shared database emerged, or at least a difficulty to consult the existing ones. First, the fact that some databases are not readily available limits the knowledge of what is being done in other research institutes, hence the information accessibility. On the other hand, each database has its own repository, so it is quite difficult to determine the precise subject to which they refer. The creation of a shared database seems an insoluble problem. However it is necessary to create a database network that allows information access. With regard to marine environment, CAR/ASP created a common repository for marine habitats. As part of European Union, many activities (especially for databases) are already in place, so it would be possible to solve some problems by piggybacking on existing projects. Lastly, the CNRS/INEE (Stephanie Thiebault) is developing tools to encourage the development of databases more accessible.
    The creation of a specific website to BioDivMex, privileged site of information exchange, could lead to a modest advance towards knowledge of databases available. Concrete proposals in this direction can be quickly developed.
  • Research valuation
    The problem of research legibility concerning MBD still exists, as shown by Annabelle Amm (CNRS, France), despite the steady increase in indexed articles since 2001 (figure 1).

Figure 1 : Indexed scientific articles dealing with Mediterranean biodiversity since 2001, inventoried from “Web of knowledge”.

A high number of scientific works are not valued as indexed articles in peer-reviewed journals and therefore are not readable and accessible. As against many studies are published in the so-called “gray” literature and so are not available and so are not or few available on the web, or not referenced in web search engines mostly used (“Web of knowledge”, “Science direct” etc…). Most of this literature consists of thesis, Master or Magister report etc… and old literature whose study, necessary and always successful, is now very difficult.
To solve, at least in part, the problem of legibility it is necessary to publish some of the works in peer-reviewed journals, without neglecting the B-class journals or newsletters premises, from the time they are accessible and widely disseminated.
With regard to non-indexed journals, some initiatives are taken. For example, OSU Pytheas, which includes environmental research units of the Marseille region and set up a library of heritage, has created a "gray literature" section (title articles are at least available).

  • Biodiversity observatories, experimental stations
    The necessity of a MBD monitoring, subject to heavy human pressure, and the development of evolution scenarios of the MBD in front of global change (including climate) lead to favor the establishment of reference sites or experimental stations. The workshop highlighted the importance of being able to have throughout the MB an ambitious international network of monitoring plots, study and experimentation, homogeneous in their objectives, methodology, equipment and instrumentation, etc... This tool is necessary from a scientific point of view and is desirable as a communication and exchange mean for actors working on MBD issues. At this level, complementarities with SICMED program from MISTRALS will be established.

Contacts :

Thierry Gauquelin :

Annabelle Amm :

Report of BioDivMeX workshop 1, programm, summaries and the participants list can be downloaded here :

CR Workshop Biodivmex.pdf
Compte rendu du workshop I BioDivMeX ayant eu lieu les 8 et 9 novembre à Marseille (Faculté de St Charles, Aix-Larseille Université)
Résumés présentations wokshop I
Voici les résumés des présentations ayant eu lieu lors du premier workshop BioDivMex.
BioDivMeX workshop report 1
This is the report od BioDivMeX workshop I (8 and 9 november 2011)

Logo workshop I de BioDivMeX