January 2021 – Ecosystem Modelling Graduate Course online

A new Ecosystem Modelling Course, organized by the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada), just started online!

The course is open for UBC graduate students with interest in quantitative modelling, as well as for some upper-level UBC undergraduate students.  Because of the Covid-19 situation, UBC does not allow on-campus classes for the coming semester, therefore the course is online via Zoom. This opens for wider participation in the course, and we allow informal auditing of the course. In addition to Zoom, we will broadcast the classes directly on FaceBook Live, available through the Ecopath FaceBook page.

We intend to make recordings of the lectures and Q/A (not class discussions and tutorials) available through www.ecopath.org‘s YouTube channel.

Many interesting seminars will be given during the course from expert marine ecosystem modelers around the world. Instructors are Dr. Villy Christensen and MSc Santigao de la Puente (UBC, Canada), Leigh McGaughey (River Institute, Canada) and Marta Coll (ICM-CSIC, Spain).

Environmental and fishing pressure in the northern Catalan coast threaten sardines and anchovies

A new study coordinated by the ICM and the IEO reveals the areas of the Spanish and French coast where there is a greater overlap of the different pressures.

Sardines (Sardina pilchardus) and anchovies (Engraulis encrasicolus) are the most traded and consumed fish in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea, representing almost 40% of the region’s catches. In recent decades, the combined impact of fishing and rising water temperatures, which has been particularly high in this Mediterranean region, has led to the decline of sardine and anchovy populations, compromising the sustainability of the stocks.

This is the main conclusion of a study by the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM), the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) and Ecopath International Initiative (EII) published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. According to the study, the area of ​​the Spanish and French coast where the anchovy, and especially the sardine, are suffering the most is the northern Catalan coast and the Gulf of Lion, where there is a strong overlap of environmental and fishing pressure on these small pelagic species.

La sardina i el seitó són els peixos més comercialitzats i consumits al nord-oest del Mediterrani / ICM-CSIC

Cumulative climate effect on sardine. Source: Ramirez et al. 2020.

You can also read about this study at ICM-CSIC


What are Nature-Based Solutions?

‘Nature-Based Solutions’ are increasingly emerging as a key tool in ensuring our oceans’ health, but what exactly are they and how can they help us achieve this goal?

You can read about them in a recent interview.

Ocean benefits are essential to keep a healthy planet / FutureMARES

Ocean benefits are essential to keep a healthy planet / image: FutureMARES project

PELCAT results presented in PLASTIC’ 2020

Our colleague Berta Sala Solà from the IDAEA-CSIC presented important results from our PELCAT project regarding “Organophosphate esters in edible fish from the Mediterranean Sea” in PLASTIC’ 2020 symposium.

The presentation was featured in the media.

A trophic latitudinal gradient revealed in anchovy and sardine from the Western Mediterranean Sea using a multi-proxy approach

Do you want to learn about what sardines and anchovies eat in the Western Mediterranean Sea?

This is an important outcome of our PELWEB project, just came out today!




We have a PhD scholarship to investigate Nature-Based Solutions in marine ecosystems!

We are looking for candidates to apply for a PhD scholarship/contract in the next FPU call of the Government of Spain (expected between October and November 2020).

The PhD thesis will be developed at the Institute of Marine Sciences (CSIC, Barcelona) in the context of the recently funded European project FutureMares.

The objective of the thesis is to characterize the synergistic effect of climate change and fisheries-induced evolution on exploited populations, and consequently, on the functioning of marine trophic interactions. The thesis will deepen on the changes of marine ecosystems under climate change and intensive fishing, their adaptive capacity, and how they respond to different nature-based solutions (marine protected areas, sustainable management and recovery of degraded habitats). The methodological approach of the thesis will involve the use of statistical and mechanistic modelling techniques of marine ecosystems with special focus on the Mediterranean Sea.

We are looking for candidates with a degree in the field of marine sciences, biological sciences, environmental sciences or similar and with an academic record higher than 8. Candidates with a degree from a non-Spanish University must possess (or have processed) a certificate of homologation. Candidates must be enrolled in a doctoral program at a Spanish university, or be studying an official university master’s degree that gives access to a doctoral program. A good level of English is essential and knowledge of statistics and programming with packages like R is recommended.

Interested candidates, contact Marta Coll (mcoll@icm.csic.es) and Valerio Sbragaglia (sbragaglia@icm.csic.es).

EU-funded FutureMARES project starts

The new EU-funded project FutureMARES about Climate Change and Future Marine Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity just started (01/09/2020) and will keep us busy for the next 4 years.

The website of the project is now live: https://www.futuremares.eu/



Advancing global ecological modelling capabilities to simulate future trajectories of change in marine ecosystems

Our new paper regarding global marine ecosystem modelling is out in Frontiers in Marine Science

Check it out here: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2020.567877/abstract


In this study, we present a global ecosystem modelling complex, EcoOcean v2, and use it to simulate past and future scenarios of marine ecosystem change, where we quantify the impacts of alternative configurations of the ecological model, responses to alternative climate-change scenarios, and the additional impacts of fishing. Our results show how future ecological trajectories are sensitive to alternative configurations of EcoOcean, highlighting the importance of model structural uncertainty in marine ecosystem models. Our results also show important changes in marine organism biomass distributions and in ecosystem structure under various scenarios of climate change. Ecological trajectories are sensitive to environmental drivers from alternative ESM outputs and RCPs, they show spatial variability and more severe changes when IPSL model and RCP 8.5 scenario are used. Under a non-fishing configuration, larger organisms show decreasing trends, while smaller organisms show mixed or increasing results. Fishing intensifies the negative effects predicted by climate change, which results in stronger biomass declines for species already losing under climate change, or dampened positive impacts for those increasing. Several species groups that win under climate change become losers under combined impacts, while only a few (small benthopelagic fish and cephalopods) species are projected to show positive biomass changes under cumulative impacts.

Researchers propose expanding the network of MPAs to ensure the future of sharks and rays in the western Mediterranean

A group of researchers from the Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM) of Barcelona, the Centre de Recerca Ecològica i Aplicacions Forestals (CREAF), the Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO) and the University of Queensland (Australia) has shown that the current network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Spanish Mediterranean waters does not protect properly sharks and rays.


Read more at:



More than half of sardines and anchovies in the Western Mediterranean have microplastics in their intestines