DEVelopment Of innovative Tools for understandig

marine biodiversity and assessing good

Environmental Status

DEVOTES Newsletter N.3

EU flag

Dear Colleague, 

The DEVOTES project has completed the first 18 months of work and it is time to look at the main achievements obtained within this time, dealing with the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).  
This is a complex project, with 23 partners from all EU regional seas and the Red Sea, together with 2 USA observers, with near 200 scientists working on it.
The project is organized under 25 operational objectives and 65 tasks, with the aim of a broad and cooperative participation of many partners at each of them.
Taking into account that the aim of the project is that all outputs could serve stakeholders, Member States, Regional Sea Conventions and the European Commission in the implementation of the MSFD, most of our deliveries are publicly available at, whilst scientific publications can be reach in

Within these initial 18 months some important achievements can be highlighted:

  • A catalogue of the EU monitoring networks for the MSFD, detailing the geographical distribution of monitoring, the descriptors, biodiversity components and pressures targeted, the frequency and the availability of time-series data and policy relevance has been produced.
  • A gap and SWOT analysis of these monitoring networks have been completed.
  • A catalogue of indicators targeting MSFD Descriptors 1, 2, 4 and 6 across EU, together with a software (DEVOTool) hosting the catalogue, have been completed.
  • A catalogue of available models for biodiversity assessment and needs for development has been completed.
  • Important progress relating molecular approaches in biodiversity monitoring, in different biodiversity components, has been achieved (e.g. in phytoplankton, meiofauna and macroinvertebrates).
  • An operational definition of Good Environmental Status, together with the ways in which it could be interpreted, has been proposed.
  • A prototype tool to assess the status of biodiversity is on place and it is going to be improved and tested.
  • In this period, 21 papers have been published in peer-review journals.
  • Partners are training 12 PhD students.
  • Post-graduate training courses (6) and a summer school on genomics (with 38 participants) have been organized.
  • A stakeholder workshop (30 beneficiaries) has been organized.
  • A workshop on “Molecular tools for detecting alien species and Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)” (25 beneficiaries) was organized.
  • Two DEVOTES special sessions have been organized in international conferences (in Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation, USA, 2013; and in European Geophysical Union, Austria, 2014), on marine genomics and human pressures and ecosystems, respectively.
  • DEVOTES members have attended more than 140 workshops, conferences and meetings.
Complete details on the above achievements and others in progress are reported in this newsletter and can be consulted in the 18 months report, which is available for partners at our website. Given these records, we believe that the project is progressing reasonably well and we are confident that we will achieve all our objectives at the end of the project.
One of our main challenges is to disseminate these achievements to the appropriate stakeholders, supporting them in implementing the MSFD in due time and cost-effectively. Hence, we consider this Newsletter as a good way to establish close contact with all our stakeholders.

Enjoy our progress!

Dr. Ángel Borja     
Project Coordinator

> DEVOTES Announcements

We are pleased to announce the Second Annual Meeting of DEVOTES project.
The meeting will be held in Ancona (Italy) and organized by CoNISMa, during the first week of December 2014. 

The meeting will include different sessions, ad-hoc and round table meetings for the different workpackages of the project, key results presentations, plenary lectures, etc.
More information will be soon available on the DEVOTES website

DEVOTES workshop

The second DEVOTES WP5 Workshop "Innovative Monitoring Techniques" will be hosted at the the Institut de Ciències del Mar (Barcelona, Spain) on 13-14 October 2014.

> Inside DEVOTES

Devotes Summer School "From Species to Ecosystems: Modelling Marine Ecology for Management Applications"

The 11th AZTI’s Marine Research Division Summer School and the second one organized within DEVOTES, has been held in San Sebastián (Spain) from 15th to 17th July 2014.
The Summer School, exploring the potential and recent advances in the use of marine modelling (some of them developed in DEVOTES), at different scales (from species to ecosystems), in management applications, including scenarios of climate change, was attended by 75 young researchers. The 7 teachers gave an overview on the marine modelling to ocean and coastal management, with a closer view to the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), especially in descriptors such as: biodiversity, fishing, food-webs and seafloor integrity.

Devotes Microarray training

From 9th to 13th of June 2014, a microarray training was organized in Ancona at the facilities of Polytechnic University of Marche, Italy.
Program included full range of laboratory work from sample filtration, RNA extraction and subsequent microarray preparation, hybridization and scanning, as well as introduction into data analysis.
A conversation with...

...Lucille and Sónia, our DEVOTES Scientists of the Month!

Click here to learn more about their research topics and their interests.

> DEVOTES Sciences News

Conceptualising our ecosystem problems. Coupling DPSIR with BowTie and Risk Management

by C. Smith 

The DEVOTES Task 1.1 team have just released their final report on Conceptual Models for marine ecosystem problem solving.
The team focussed on the popular DPSIR (Drivers-Pressures-State change-Impact-Response) framework and completed a comprehensive review of its application to marine issues. In addition they have examined some of the difficulties surrounding the framework, particularly when dealing with multiple pressures in a complex environment. They’ve introduced and coupled the BowTie method to refine the framework and incorporate mechanisms of pressure effects which support the application of risk assessment and management approaches.

ARMS and ASUs: one year of biodiversity

by Á. Borja

Within DEVOTES, two innovative biodiversity monitoring devices (ARMS: Autonomous Reef Monitoring System, and ASU: Artificial Substrate Unit) for hard-bottom substratum have been deployed in locations across different regional seas.
The uninstallation of the last ARMS and ASUs at the Basque coast just finished, whilst the others will be completed during the summer. Once collected, these devices will be used to explore benthic colonization on standardized surfaces, which will be evaluated through genomic sequencing.
Have a look at the video of the recovery after one year!

Identification of cost-effective MSFD monitoring and assessment systems (DEVOTES Objective 2.1)

by J. Salojärvi, M. Austen, S. Oinonen, L. Paltriguera, T. Borger

DEVOTES WP2 is addressing the socio-economic implications of achieving GES. This includes identification of criteria to determine the cost-effectiveness of different monitoring suites and assessment of the cost-effectiveness of current monitoring methods and of new methods developed within DEVOTES. For example, data is being collated on the costs of deploying ARMS and ASU’s as novel monitoring devices (WP5 research).
Securing cost-effectiveness means that the MSFD monitoring requirements are fully met at least cost. A scoring system is being developed to ensure that relevant socio-economic criteria beyond purely monetary will not be dismissed when planning monitoring schemes, and to identify the trade-offs between different monitoring suites. In addition to cost and employment, the socio-economic criteria could include the preservation of expert skills that might be lost due to automation of monitoring for example. We welcome any further ideas of social criteria from the DEVOTES consortium. Cost-effectiveness will be determined through multi-criteria analysis utilising the scoring system. For this analysis, comprehensive data on monitoring costs and other criteria will be gathered. The data is collected using spread sheets, and will be supported by process charts that break down the monitoring activities into a visual sequence of actions (see figure for a simplified example). The process charts together with the cost data will help to compare monitoring schemes and related costs between countries.

Our pilot case study areas are the Gulf of Finland and Bay of Biscay, and other case studies will be developed later in the process (including the East Coast of England in the North Sea). As part of the process we are preparing spread sheets to be populated with costs of monitoring activities including, for example, time taken to carry out activity, number of staff involved, level of expertise required (and associated salary costs), other activities that can be carried out simultaneously to share ship or travel time, equipment required, recurrent/consumable costs, etc.
We plan to hold a workshop at the annual meeting in December to discuss the approaches and their further development. If you, or someone within your organisation, is willing and able to help provide costs of monitoring data (for the case study or other sites), please contact Joona Salojärvi.

DEVOTES presents a software tool to select indicators for the Marine Framework Strategy Directive

DEVOTool:  the DEVOTES software containing a Catalogue of Indicators (database v. 6)

by H. Teixeira, B. Torsten
This software allows navigating a catalogue of existing indicators of marine biodiversity, within all European Regional Seas. In addition, indicators of other descriptors such as non-indigenous species, food-webs, and seafloor integrity can be also searched. These indicators are necessary to assess the environmental status of European seas, within the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).
The aims of the catalogue are twofold: firstly, to identify the strengths and possible gaps of the European indicator set in order to focus the development of new indicators where it is most urgently needed; and secondly, to foster transfer of know-how across countries and marine regions, so that indicators operational in one area could be potentially adapted to other areas and used in the environmental assessment.

> DEVOTES Latest publications

Mapping ecosystem services provided by benthic habitats in the European North Atlantic Ocean

by Galparsoro I., Borja À. and Uyarra M.C.

The mapping and assessment of the ecosystem services provided by benthic habitats is a highly valuable source of information for understanding their current and potential benefits to society. The main objective of this research conducted by AZTI researchers is to assess and map the ecosystem services provided by benthic habitats in the European North Atlantic Ocean.
More than 90% of the mapped area (62 habitats have been analyzed in relation to 12 ecosystem services over 1.7 million square km) provides biodiversity maintenance and food provision services; meanwhile, grounds providing reproduction and nursery services are limited to half of the mapped area. Benthic habitats generally provide more services closer to shore—rather than offshore—and in shallower waters.
This work was published in Frontiers in Marine Science and it is avalailable for reading on DEVOTES community in zenodo

Trophic niche-space imaging, using resource and consumer traits

by Nagelkerke L. and Rossberg A.

The ecological niche concept is very important in ecology. But what a niche looks like is fairly abstract. Now, for the first time, Leo Nagelkerke (Wageningen University) and Axel Rossberg (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Cefas) have concretely visualised this. The ecologists have been able to determine the position of fourteen fish species in relationship to their food in a four-dimensional food diagram. Their pioneering work was published in Theoretical Ecology and it is avalailable for reading on DEVOTES community in zenodo
Click here and discover all the other DEVOTES papers published so far!

> Events

The DEVOTES project at the IMBER Open Science Conference

by À. Borja and A. Newton

A special session on Marine environmental status and biodiversity: from structure to functionality, delivering ecosystem services was organized by À. Borja and A. Newton at IMBER Open Science Conference in Bergen, Norway (23-27 June).
There were several presentations about the DEVOTES project and active participation from the international science community, showing that this topic is of global relevance. There were presenters from Canada, the USA, Israel and Australia as well as many presentations from Europe.
Click here for more scientific events

DEVOTES @ Ocean Sampling Day

On June 21 2014 a worldwide sampling campaign of microbial life within marine surface water was successfully within the framework of Micro B3’s Ocean Sampling Day (OSD). It encompassed 185 marine research stations from Iceland to Antarctica and from Moorea (French Polynesia) via the Americas to South Africa including 9 DEVOTES partners
RV Cefas Endeavour was carrying out a survey in the Folkestone Pomeria Marine Conservation Zone, as part of their data and evidence collection program. On Ocean Sampling Day, June 21st 2014, Sophie Pitois collected samples for bacteria, phyto and zooplankton analyses. A special thank goes to the scientist in charge Paul Whomersley and the rest of the crew for their help and their enthusiasm to join the event during this beautiful day in the Eastern Channel. 


Marine scientists from the Dokuz Eylül University participated in the international Ocean Sampling Day (OSD) to collect environmental and biological data for analysis of microbial diversity and function in marine ecosystems around the world.
Watch the video of DEU sampling activity

> Outside DEVOTES


by M. Maniopoulou

ADRIPLAN stands for ADRiatic Ionian maritime spatial PLANning and is a project funded by DG MARE under the theme "Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) in the Mediterranean sea and/or the Black sea". The total project budget is 1.250.000€, the duration of the project is 18 months from 10 December 2013 until 10 June 2015 and it is implemented by 17 Partners from 4 countries of the Adriatic –Ionian Macroregion.
The ADRIPLAN project aims to improve the ongoing process to develop MSP in the region, to overcome barriers of full participation of all neighbouring countries in the process and promote sound technically/scientifically based political decisions in order to promote a coherent transnational approach to the spatial planning of the marine seas. 
The study area is the Adriatic - Ionian Macroregion considered as a whole, zooming into two focus areas, one in the Northern Adriatic Sea and the other in Southern Adriatic Northern Ionian Sea.

DeFishGear at the centre stage in the Mediterranean Marine Litter Week

by N. Papadopoulou

DeFishGear (Derelict Fishing Gear Management System in the Adriatic MacroRegion) project is addressing the wider context of the marine litter issue to provide a key strategic input on a regional level. Upon the end of the project, the Adriatic region will have its first assessment of marine macro-litter based on data collected and actions performed in pilot areas, and better knowledge on micro-plastic pollution and its effects on marine biota.
The first outputs and coordinated actions of the DeFishGear project were showcased in The Mediterranean Conference on Combating Marine Litter.
All the conference presentations are available online and a report on the meeting’s discussions and main outcomes will be also be published on the website.
DeFishGear is part of an active community of science and society reporting on research achievements, macro- and micro-litter status assessments, training, new methods, clean up missions, fishing for litter schemes, strange litter on the sea bed and seashore, recycling for litter and fishing nets, targeted awareness raising events and sharing articles and photos on and
We need your help to do it better

If you have any suggestion or if you want to contribute to the project dissemination with news and pictures on marine biodiversity research, please let us know!

Contact us at 
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The sole responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the authors. The information on this newsletter does not necessarily represent the view of the European Commission (EC). This newsletter reflects the views only of the DEVOTES partnership and cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.