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New Network Aimed at Sustainable Management of Canada’s Ocean Resources

Dalhousie University is celebrating the recent launch of the NSERC Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe). CHONe will bring together Canada’s marine science capacities and provide a baseline of information against which future changes in the oceans can be monitored and understood.

Already considered among the world’s top oceans research institutions, Dalhousie University is celebrating the recent launch of the NSERC Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe).

CHONe will bring together Canada’s marine science capacities and provide a baseline of information against which future changes in the oceans can be monitored and understood. The network addresses a pressing need for scientific data to ensure proper conservation and the sustainable use of Canada’s ocean resources.

CHONe is a large, interdisciplinary research network which includes Fisheries and Oceans Canada and seven other government laboratories, and is aimed at ensuring sustainable management of the country’s ocean biodiversity resources. The network involves 65 researchers from 15 universities, including ten from Dalhousie.

The research effort is led by Paul Snelgrove at Memorial University, and a group of 6 theme leaders, one of which is based at Dalhousie (Anna Metaxas, Oceanography). Much of the research to be conducted will be focused on improved management of living marine resources including key commercial species, such as lobster and cod, and on developing tools to enhance sustainable development of the oceans by marine industries such as oil and gas, as well as fishing.

There are 3 main research themes in CHONe:

Marine Biodiversity aims to characterize biodiversity at multiple scales and mainly in frontier areas, such as the Arctic and the deep sea. Paul Bentzen (Biology, with postdoc Ian Bradbury) leads a project to document the colonization history through the Arctic of marine organisms that are currently present both in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Anna Metaxas is involved in a project that measures biodiversity on the ocean floor of the deep sea (including areas of deep-water corals) off Nova Scotia.

Ecosystem Function will attempt to link processes that occur at the ecosystem level to biodiversity. Jon Grant (Oceanography, with Mike Dowd, Maths & Stats) contributes to a project that will measure and model nutrient cycling in benthic communities in the Arctic, while Metaxas will work with a team to measure natural variability in benthic systems using cabled observatories, such as VENUS and NEPTUNE, on the west coast. Bob Scheibling (Biology, with Sara Iverson and Don Bowen) will examine the effects of changes in the kelp ecosystems in the shallow subtidal habitats of Nova Scotia on functions such as food production and nutrient cycling, as well as on biodiversity.

Population connectivity examines the role of dispersal of early life stages on patterns of diversity and population resilience to disturbances. Metaxas is one of the Theme leaders and also involved in a collaborative project with Chris Taggart and Barry Ruddick (both Oceanography) that will evaluate the relative performance of different indices of dispersal and connectivity using contrasting species, such as lobsters, mussels and crabs.

NSERC is providing $5 million in funding over five years to CHONe, with Fisheries and Oceans Canada adding $1.9 million in in-kind contributions. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, through the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development is also supporting the network with a contribution of more than $1 million from its Industrial Research and Innovation Fund. An additional $700,000 in cash and in-kind contributions has been secured from Memorial University, with other government and private sector partners contributing another $600,000 in in-kind support.

Charles Crosby | Newswise Science News
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