From Sea to Sea: Canada's Three Oceans of Biodiversity

Archambault, Philippe and Snelgrove, Paul and Fisher, Jonathan A.D. and Gagnon, Jean-Marc and Garbary, David J. and Harvey, Michel and Kenchington, Ellen L. and Lesage, Véronique and Lévesque, Melanie and Lovejoy, Connie and Mackas, David L. and McKindsey, Christopher W. and Nelson, John R. and Pepin, Pierre and Piché, Laurence and Poulin, Michel (2010) From Sea to Sea: Canada's Three Oceans of Biodiversity. PLoS ONE, 5 (8). pp. 1-26. ISSN 1932-6203

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Evaluating and understanding biodiversity in marine ecosystems are both necessary and challenging for conservation. This paper compiles and summarizes current knowledge of the diversity of marine taxa in Canada's three oceans while recognizing that this compilation is incomplete and will change in the future. That Canada has the longest coastline in the world and incorporates distinctly different biogeographic provinces and ecoregions (e.g., temperate through ice-covered areas) constrains this analysis. The taxonomic groups presented here include microbes, phytoplankton, macroalgae, zooplankton, benthic infauna, fishes, and marine mammals. The minimum number of species or taxa compiled here is 15,988 for the three Canadian oceans. However, this number clearly underestimates in several ways the total number of taxa present. First, there are significant gaps in the published literature. Second, the diversity of many habitats has not been compiled for all taxonomic groups (e.g., 1intertidal rocky shores, deep sea), and data compilations are based on short-term, directed research programs or longer-term monitoring activities with limited spatial resolution. Third, the biodiversity of large organisms is well known, but this is not true of smaller organisms. Finally, the greatest constraint on this summary is the willingness and capacity of those who collected the data to make it available to those interested in biodiversity meta-analyses. Confirmation of identities and intercomparison of studies are also constrained by the disturbing rate of decline in the number of taxonomists and systematists specializing on marine taxa in Canada. This decline is mostly the result of retirements of current specialists and to a lack of training and employment opportunities for new ones. Considering the difficulties encountered in compiling an overview of biogeographic data and the diversity of species or taxa in Canada's three oceans, this synthesis is intended to serve as a biodiversity baseline for a new program on marine biodiversity, the Canadian Healthy Ocean Network. A major effort needs to be undertaken to establish a complete baseline of Canadian marine biodiversity of all taxonomic groups, especially if we are to understand and conserve this part of Canada's natural heritage.

Item Type: Article
Item ID: 372
Keywords: biodiversity; biogeography; Canada; climate change; cold; ecology; environmental monitoring; environmental protection; eutrophication; geographic distribution; habitat; law; marine environment; marine species; nonhuman; phytoplankton; review; sea; taxonomy; terrestrial surface waters
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Biology
Science, Faculty of > Ocean Sciences
Date: 31 August 2010
Date Type: Publication

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