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What will live in the oceans?
Welcome to the Future of Marine Animal Populations (FMAP) legacy site. FMAP was a project within the ten-year Census of Marine Life program (2000-2010), an international undertaking which sought to assess and explain the past, present, and future diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine life. FMAP's network of Census scientists used statistical modeling of patterns derived from biological data, often by meta-analytic means, to answer questions such as:

   - What are the global patterns of marine biodiversity?
   - What are the major drivers explaining diversity patterns and changes?
   - What is the total number of species in the ocean?
   - How has the abundance of major species groups changed over time?
   - What are the ecosystem consequences of fishing/climate change?
   - How is the distribution of animals in the ocean changing?
   - How is the movement of animals determined by their behavior and environment?

FMAP Mission Statement
FMAP attempted to describe and synthesize globally changing patterns of species abundance, distribution, and diversity, and to model the effects of fishing, climate change and other key variables on those patterns. This work was done across ocean realms and with an emphasis on understanding past changes and predicting future scenarios.

The future of marine animal populations as a broad research topic is continuing to be explored through current projects by former FMAP researchers and others.
8.7 million species on Earth and in the oceans
A new study by Dalhousie researchers used an innovative analytical technique to provide a new estimate of the total number of species on Earth. The estimate of 8.7 million species (plus or minus 1.3 million species) is the most precise calculation of this number to date. The paper, published in PLoS Biology, reveals that 6.5 million species are found on land and 2.2 million live in the oceans. And incredibly, the study predicts that 86% of all species on land and 91% of all species in the oceans have yet to be discovered and described.

Census of Marine Life
The Census of Marine Life finished up in late 2010 with the discovery of 6700 new species and a comprehensive database of marine biodiversity. But what's next? This article from Science looks at the future possibilities for continuation of the research program, and plans for further exploring how marine organisms contribute to the overall functioning of the ecosystem.

Tracking apex marine predator movements in a dynamic ocean
Analysis of data from the electronic tagging and tracking of 23 species in the North Pacific Ocean over the past decade identified migration pathways, discovered multi-species hotspots and linked marine conditions to animal movement and behaviour within the California Current ecosystem and the North Pacific transition zone.

Serial exploitation of global sea cucumber fisheries
In only a few decades, most sea cucumber fisheries around the world have experienced a boom-and-bust pattern; over time, this has happened faster and further away from the main markets in Hong Kong and China. Currently, 81% of sea cucumber fisheries globally have experienced population declines due to overfishing. The findings suggest these fisheries are often unsustainable and may develop too rapidly for effective management responses.

New - The FMAP PLoS One Collection
For other recent papers, please look at

FMAP PLoS One Collection
Global patterns and predictors of marine biodiversity
FMAP researchers examined global patterns and predictors of species richness across 13 major species groups ranging from zooplankton to marine mammals and identified water temperature as the main environmental predictor of biodiversity patterns in the ocean.


The Census of Marine Life is a growing global network of researchers in more than 45 nations engaged in a ten-year initiative to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine life in oceans--past, present, and future.
Last Updated: 2022-06-19