In recognition of the current bottleneck in research on marine biodiversity and ecosystems, emphasis is placed on techniques for acquiring biological data, including environmental factors, as well as on prediction modeling. This research area is focused on (1) developing broad, continuous sensing and monitoring techniques for marine organisms and biological populations as well as related environmental factors, in order to improve the efficiency of species identification and biomass estimation and to develop cutting-edge techniques for accumulation and integration of basic biological and environmental data through analysis of ecological networks; and (2) developing novel models for understanding spatial and temporal changes in marine ecosystems and biodiversity and for making predictions about these biological systems.
To investigate items (1) and (2), researchers participating in each project must identify marine biological populations and/or biological processes which are the target of the proposed technique or model. In other words, field research and monitoring are required for validating the developed techniques and models; furthermore, close collaboration is necessary across a wide range of research disciplines. This research area, however, does not appreciate only observational investigations or monitoring of marine species and biological populations.
To overcome the traditional limitations on marine research, we strongly recommend collaborative research between researchers engaged in marine biological sciences (such as marine ecology and taxonomy) and researchers from a wide array of disciplines in engineering and life sciences. Through collaborative research with clearly defined targets, this research area can make significant contributions to policymaking for the conservation of marine environments, including the establishment of marine protected areas and sustainable use of marine resource that takes into account of negative effect on marine organism.
Research Area Advisors
Professor emeritus , The University of Tokyo
Professor , Hokkaido University
Deputy Direcor ,Fisheries Research Agency
Vice-president , University of the Ryukyu
Professor , The University of Tokyo
Professor , YOKOHAMA National University
Professor , The University of Tokyo
Auditor , Research Organization of information and Systems
Professor , Kyushu University
Professor emeritus , Kyoto University
Year Started : 2012
Developing a new ecosystem assessment method applicable to data-limited situations by integrating marine ecology and machine learning
Hiroshi Okamura(Group Leader, Fisheries Research Agency)
Quantifying impacts on marine diversity by environments and human activities such as fisheries is a key for sustainable use of marine resources. However, data available for ecosystem assessments are generally limited and have large uncertainty. This research aims at developing an ecosystem model for assessing and predicting the ecosystem under limited and uncertain data by using flexible methods such as new statistical approaches and machine learning. It should contribute very much to conservation and restoration of marine ecosystems.
Development of three dimensional mapping system of marine macrophyte beds using hyper- and multi-spectral remote sensing from air and seasurface
Teruhisa Komatsu (Associate Professor, Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo)
Marine macrophyte beds provide various ecosystem services such as food supply, nutrient recycling, etc. It is necessary to appropriately manage marine macrophyte beds not to decrease them. Thus, it is desired to develop mapping systems that can measure species of marine macrophytes, their distribution and biomasses. This study aims to develop two mapping systems: one is to detect marine macrophytes by an optical sensor using hyperspectral images built on the small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), capable of amphibious take-off/landing. The other is to detect them by acoustic sensors using narrow multi-beam ultrasounds on the small unmanned marine vehicle (UMV).
Development of a new ecosystem model to represent the adaptive capacity of plankton communities in the North Pacific
Sherwood Lan Smith(Scientist, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology)
Based on the theoretical concept of optimality, expressed in terms of eco-physiological trade-offs, this project aims to: 1) develop a new, efficient model of the biodiversity of plankton communities and how it in turn determines the adaptive capacity of lower-trophic ecosystems as a function of environmental conditions, and 2) apply this new model to understand and predict the response of ecosystems to environmental change in the North Pacific Ocean. In the future, coupled with different models of the physical environment at various spatio-temporal scales, this new ecosystem model is expected to provide useful information for addressing many problems that confront human society as the result of changes in the marine environment and ecosystems.
Construction of the environmental risk mathematical model by the meta-omics analyses of marine unculturable microbes based on single cell genome information
Haruko Takeyama (Professor, Waseda University)
Correct understanding of marine ecosystems based on information with large-scale biological, chemical, and physical factors are essential for conserving marine ecosystem and forecasting risk.
In this research, we attempt to obtain single cell genome information of marine uncultureable microbes from diverse coastal ecosystem in Okinawa, and the information will be used to conduct next generation type meta-omics analyses. Furthermore, the environmental risk mathematical model will be constructed with meta-omics data and environmental factors.
Development of Free-Ocean Real-Time Experimental System to elucidate non-linear dynamics of marine community
Masahiro Nakaoka(Professor, Hokkaido University)
Marine environment is now facing multiple human-induced stresses such as overexploitation, eutrophication, temperature rise and ocean acidification. Concurrent changes in multiple environmental factors make it difficult to predict changes in marine biodiversity due to non-linear effects. To solve this problem, we need to establish methods to manipulate multiple factors in the field and to understand responses of marine communities continuously by real-time monitoring. We will develop FORTES (Free-Ocean Real-Time Experimental System) using seagrass beds as model systems.
Novel technologies to evaluate multi-scale variations of pelagic marine communities and biodiversity under the influence of the Kuroshio and internal waves in coastal habitats
Hidekatsu Yamazaki(Professor, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology)
Ecological processes driven by environmental forcings occur over multiple space and time scales. This project focuses on characterizing multi-scale biodiversity dynamics in the Kuroshio affected habitats using a novel approach that combines numerical models with field observations obtained with advanced sensing technologies. The observed data will then be used with numerical methods to produce a new planktonic ecosystem model. In conjunction with this model development, a scheme will be developed to predict the dynamics and biodiversity of both phytoplankton and zooplankton.
Year Started : 2011
Development of remote species identification technologies for marine organisms
Tomonari Akamatsu(Chief researcher, Fisheries Research Agency)
Sustainable use of marine bio-resources and protection of environment will be realized if distribution and movement of each aquatic species will be provided on the Internet like a weather forcast. We will develop remote identification technologies of species and numbers of organisms without catching or viewing them. Identification of species and counting number of individuals will be conducted by passive and active sonar systems. The goal of this project is to develop remote identification method for every aquatic species including planktons and whales in the ocean echo system as well as the environmental factors such as human impacts and earthquakes using cutting-edge acoustic technologies.
Synthesis of an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) fleet for bio-sampling using 3D reconstructions of the seafloor
Tamaki Ura(Professor, Kyushu Institute of Technology)
The primary goal of this research is to quantitatively map the volume and the diversity of marine life in the benthic zones near gas hydrates and hydrothermally active sites. By using high performance autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to obtain sub-centimeter order resolution image and bathymetric data from wide areas of the seafloor, the aim is to generate accurate 3D reconstructions of seafloors and their benthos. Furthermore, by performing systematic and regular surveys in this manner, we hope to deepen understanding into the role played by these mineral oases as a habitat for marine life, and through this form a basis for accurate prediction changes in both the volume and diversity of marine life. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to develop a fleet of diverse autonomous underwater systems, each specializing in a particular aspect of each mission, for example performing in situ chemical analysis and sampling of deep-sea macro and micro biology as well as components of their environment. The proposed systems will be deployed in a series of missions in oceanographic regions of interest that are subject to temporal change, such as the hydrothermally active sites in Hatoma and Kagoshima bay, and the results and experience gained from these missions will be fed-back into engineering developments to redefine the state of the art for AUVs, and contribute a new, quantitative method for surveying deep sea marine ecology.
Development of marine ecosystem evaluation methods in the high throughput sequencing era
Kazuhiro Kogure(Professor, the University of Tokyo)
Recent remarkable progresses in the DNA sequencing and bioinformatics technologies have made it possible to collect and analyze huge sequence data within short time. The present project aims at developing new analytical methods for DNA and RNA obtained from marine environments. The methods should reveal community structures and functions of organisms together with their environmental parameters, thus offering a promising new approach to evaluate environmental status.
Evaluation of biodiversity and prediction of environmental changes by digital dna chip
Takashi Gojobori(Vice-Director and Professor, Research Organized of Information and System, National Institute of Genetics)
In the present study, with the aim of understanding the effects of the gigantic earthquake and its resulting tsunami in Tohoku area on marine biodiversity and ecosystem, we develop a meta-genomic method of observing a variety of marine microorganisms at once and its practical application to environmental monitoring. Utilizing the methods developed, we make assessment of marine environments by comparing the diversity of microorganisms in spots along the sea coasts between Tohoku area and other areas. The outcome of the present study is expected to make contributions to deeper understanding of marine ecosystem of microorganisms.
Development of simulation techniques to nowcast the biodiversity of marine phytoplankton
Yasuhiro Yamanaka(Professor, Hokkaido University)
The aim of this research is to provide scientific basis for marine biodiversity management and prediction of fishery resources. Towards this end, we investigate biodiversity mechanisms of phytoplankton groups, such as a formation, maintenance and decay, in the western North Pacific, by using (1) numerical modeling,(2) satellite remote sensing and (3) in situ observation. Especially, we will develop basic techniques of a real-time simulation of the biodiversity by assimilating satellite observations of marine physical conditions and phytoplankton groups to an ecosystem model.