Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Books and Book Chapters

Chapter Two - Discovering Marine Biodiversity in the 21st Century

Chapter Two - Discovering Marine Biodiversity in the 21st Century

Book Title

Advances in Marine Biology: Book Series


Document Type

Book Chapter



Publication Date



Charles Sheppard


We review the current knowledge of the biodiversity of the ocean as well as the levels of decline and threat for species and habitats. The lack of understanding of the distribution of life in the ocean is identified as a significant barrier to restoring its biodiversity and health. We explore why the science of taxonomy has failed to deliver knowledge of what species are present in the ocean, how they are distributed and how they are responding to global and regional to local anthropogenic pressures. This failure prevents nations from meeting their international commitments to conserve marine biodiversity with the results that investment in taxonomy has declined in many countries. We explore a range of new technologies and approaches for discovery of marine species and their detection and monitoring. These include: imaging methods, molecular approaches, active and passive acoustics, the use of interconnected databases and citizen science. Whilst no one method is suitable for discovering or detecting all groups of organisms many are complementary and have been combined to give a more complete picture of biodiversity in marine ecosystems. We conclude that integrated approaches represent the best way forwards for accelerating species discovery, description and biodiversity assessment. Examples of integrated taxonomic approaches are identified from terrestrial ecosystems. Such integrated taxonomic approaches require the adoption of cybertaxonomy approaches and will be boosted by new autonomous sampling platforms and development of machine-speed exchange of digital information between databases.



Academic Press



First Page


Last Page


Additional Information

Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved


Chapter Two - Discovering Marine Biodiversity in the 21st Century
Find in your library