Scattered marine cave biodiversity data to find home in new database WoRCS, Project Report

October 3, 2016, Pensoft Publishers

Considered "biodiversity reservoirs," underwater caves are yet to be explored with only a few thoroughly researched areas in the world. Furthermore, species diversity and distributional data is currently scattered enough to seriously hinder conservation status assessments, which is of urgent need due to planned and uncontrolled coastal urbanization.

Thereby, a large international team of scientists, led by Dr Vasilis Gerovasileiou, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Greece, have undertaken the World Register of marine Cave Species (WoRCS) initiative meant to aggregate ecological and geographical data to eventually provide information vital for evidence-based conservation. Their Project Report is published in the open access journal Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO).

With more than 20,000 existing records of underwater cave-dwelling species spread across several platforms, the authors have identified the need for a new database, where a standard glossary based on existing terminology binds together all available ecological data, such as type of environment, salinity regimes, and cave zone, as well as geographical information on the distribution of species in these habitats.

In their project, which has already produced a dynamic webpage, the scientists work within the context of the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) to add the already available records published in peer-reviewed outlets to reliable and case-by-case verified unpublished data, available from offline databases, museum collections and field notes, as well as the findings of the WoRCS thematic editors themselves.

Eventually, these presence records could be georeferenced for submission to the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) and constitute an important dataset for biogeographical and climate change studies on marine caves and anchialine systems.

To invite both the marine biology scientific communities and citizen scientists, WoRCS is meant to adopt a number of strategies.

Short and mid-term plans to engage the scientific community include development of common projects on poorly known marine and anchialine caves; projects that use WoRCS data; initiation of a fellowship programme to engage young researchers; and work with societies.

In the meantime, WoRCS is also intended to develop educational, citizen science and conservation activities, by creating products (e.g., maps, guides, courses) for the public, engage volunteers to encode data, and develop tools for MPA managers and the conservationist community.

"In particular, each time that a project about caves is funded, a work package or module or deliverable about WoRCS should be included to employ students and young researchers for data encoding, or to facilitate new types of data, or new links to other e-infrastructures and data tools," suggest the WoRCS thematic editors.

Explore further: Species conservation profile of a critically endangered endemic for the Azores spider

More information: Vasilis Gerovasileiou et al, World Register of marine Cave Species (WoRCS): a new Thematic Species Database for marine and anchialine cave biodiversity, Research Ideas and Outcomes (2016). DOI: 10.3897/rio.2.e10451

Related Stories

Researchers create marine biodiversity database

May 26, 2015

The world's epicentre of marine biodiversity is under threat. Researchers in the Philippines are developing a marine biodiversity database to help identify local hotspots requiring urgent management.

Recommended for you

Matter waves and quantum splinters

March 25, 2019

Physicists in the United States, Austria and Brazil have shown that shaking ultracold Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) can cause them to either divide into uniform segments or shatter into unpredictable splinters, depending ...

How tree diversity regulates invading forest pests

March 25, 2019

A national-scale study of U.S. forests found strong relationships between the diversity of native tree species and the number of nonnative pests that pose economic and ecological threats to the nation's forests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.