On March 23, the University of Athens hosted the launch meeting of the Steering Committee of a 4-year project, entitled “Brown algal biodiversity and ecology in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea”. Led by Christos Katsaros (University of Athens), Panayotis Panayiotidis (Hellenic Centre for Marine Research / HCMR, Anavyssos), Konstantinos Tsiamis (Hellenic Centre for Marine Research / HCMR, Anavyssos) and Frithjof C. Küpper (Scottish Association for Marine Science, Oban, Scotland), the € 300,000 project, funded by the Paris-based TOTAL Foundation, aims to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the region’s seaweed biodiversity and its role in the functioning of the marine ecosystem. The project is a truly multinational effort – even though the effort is centered in Greece, it has major contributions by scientists from Croatia, Cyprus, Turkey, Israel, California, France, Germany, Japan and Scotland. Key objectives include pioneering studies of the Eastern Mediterranean’s deep-water flora, hitherto largely unexplored.
Prof. Christos Katsaros, the Project Coordinator, comments: “This project will be a great opportunity to focus on the effects of climate change, pollution and invasive species on the Mediterranean Ecosystem. Within the framework of the project a dedicated seaweed herbarium will be established, including a database in which all the specimens collected during the expeditions will be deposited.”
“No comprehensive inventory of the region’s seaweed flora exists for the so far, despite the important role of these algae in the ecology of coastal and seabed ecosystems” says Dr. Panayotidis, the Lead Scientist. “In particular, we want to investigate whether kelps – large, meter-sized brown algae – occur in the deeper waters of the Aegean and Levantine Seas. For this purpose, we will use the HCMR research submersible, Thetis”.
“That level of cooperation between marine scientists in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus is something very special about this project, bridging the difficult political differences between their home countries. Science is a wonderful way to contribute to promoting peace and cooperation in the region.” adds Frithjof Küpper from the Scottish Association for Marine Science.
CONTACT: Prof. Christos Katsaros – Christos.Katsaros@biol.uoa.gr /
Tel.: +30-210-7274652 / Fax : +30-210-7274702