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 upcoming edition will be led by Dr. Davide Seveso (University Milano-Bicocca), Prof. Giovanni Strona (Joint Research Center, European Commission, Ispra, Italy) and Prof. Valeriano Parravicini (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and CRIOBE, Perpignan, France).
It has been a great beginning for our MAF-WORLD COST Action. After a successful year, we are ready for the second, with some exciting COST Action activity set. 
Juanita Zorrilla-Pujana If someone asked me to summarise this first year of our COST Action in terms of Science Communication through hashtags, I would use keywords like “friendly network”, “opportunity”, “creative learning”, & “science collaboration”.  Setting a joint image: more than branding. When building the project, we envisaged that science communication would be a cross-cutting...
Branching MAFs are the key building units in marine ecosystems, including the coral reefs. Branching corals exhibit taxon-specific canopy structures and are crowned by morphometric modifications within their canopies, habitats that are under the control of biological and environmental drivers
Marine Animal Forests (MAFs) are built by many organisms that depend either partially or entirely on the heterotrophic uptake of particulate and dissolved nutrients for survival.
Taxonomical knowledge is the basis for many biological and ecological studies. However, even if this is a fact, the reality shows that the number of taxonomists working with megabenthic fauna is decreasingand few young researchers are involved in this fundamental research field.

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.