Marine Animal Forest of the World


Description of the Action

Major marine biodiversity hotspots occur within and around extended three-dimensional communities known as Marine Animal Forests (MAFs). MAFs are biotic assemblages mainly composed of suspension feeding organisms like sponges, gorgonians, hard corals, bryozoans, bivalves, etc., that form canopies like the trees or shrubs on land, thus creating underwater forests. As Aichi targets have been impossible to achieve by 2020, we need networks that allow working together for the same objective, with special attention to marine ecosystems as the MAFs.

These submersed forests provide ecosystem services which are essential for hundreds of million people worldwide. In this UN decade of the oceans, we aim to provide the scientific basis for understanding and preserving the ecosystem services of the MAFs throughout the world. These ecosystem services are under increasing anthropogenic pressure and need a clear unifying picture to be shared with stakeholders and public. Developing a common protocol and gathering a consensus on the most appropriate tools to study and understand the animal forests’ role, will ultimately inform management, restoration, and conservation initiatives.

The network aims to develop an integrative vision that will fuel research and steer future policies on crosscutting sustainability-driven issues related to the fragmented governance of these benthic ecosystems in coastal and open ocean waters, creating cross sectoral platform for partners across academia, policymaking, and civil society, offering inclusive spaces for a transdisciplinary dialogue. We will also unify the protocols for restoration of the MAFs of the World, with nature-based solutions, to face climate change, natural disasters, and food supply.


Latest Updates

The Mediterranean pillow coral - Cladocora caespitosa (Linnaeus, 1767), is the only native colonial and obligate zooxanthellate coral in the Mediterranean Sea, listed as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List.
For MAF-WORLD COST Action 20102, it is a pleasure to announce the partnership in the Cold-Water Coral Taxonomy training school/workshop organised by iAtlanticthat will be held in Brazil from 15th to 17th of October, which is now open for registration.
Coinciding with the 15th International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen, the ZMT - Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research welcomes our first Management Committee to set the future activities for the following years and strengthen our networking COST Action.
We invite you to assist in the upcoming ONLINE WORKSHOP on Marine Animal Forests (MAFs), that will be held on the 26 & 27 of October.
UNDER THE POLE is an underwater exploration program which combines scientific research, innovation and public awareness, to promote better knowledge and conservation of the oceans.
Science Letters publishes the kick-off of the Marine Animal Forest (megabenthic structures mainly composed of suspension-feeding organisms) networking Action, highlighting the importance of the connection of more than 150 researchers from around the globe to understand and solve the problems that such a worldwide set of habitats face nowadays. This transdisciplinary group of scientists come...

Meet our Working Groups

A general coordination WG is needed, not only to manage organization and dynamics of all WGs, but also to disseminate and promote the MAF idea outside the network.
This WG aims to improve our understanding of the factors that have shaped the biogeographical distribution and richness of MAF life in European waters.
Many threats are responsible for the MAF transformation and degradation, whose intensity and typology can vary with the depth.
Marine historical ecology is an interdisciplinary research approach that draws upon historical sources to understand the dynamics and changes in marine ecosystems over decadal to centennial time scales, as well as the drivers of these changes.
This WG will help to better understand the constraints of several biological strategies in front of fast ocean changes.
The main goal of this WG is to bring out the link between ecosystems and human well-being and to identify possible gaps of knowledge among different stakeholders as well as strategies to overcome them.
The main objective of this WP is to evaluate the level of conservation of dwelling inside Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and propose conservation and/or restoration actions.
Effective communication and dissemination, including bottom-up initiatives are key factors that determine to a great extent the impact of the project in society.