Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture, Nord University

An ecologist specialising in biogeography and global biodiversity, marine and freshwater ecology, Marine Protected Areas, and the effects of climate change on biodiversity, including aquaculture-environment interactions. He pioneered ‘ocean biodiversity informatics’; leading the establishment of the World Register of Marine Species and Ocean Biodiversity Information System databases. Mark has over 260 peer-reviewed publications cited 18,000 times, supervised 70 graduate students, and played leading roles in many international organisations, including the Group on Earth Observations Marine Biodiversity Observation Network and being a lead author in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change global 6th assessment where he co-led the Cross Cutting Chapter on Biodiversity Hotspots.


Axford Lecture | 31 July (Mon) 3:30 PM – 5:15 PM | Level 3 Nicoll

Global Ocean Biogeography - Latitude, Depth, Climate Change, 20 oC Effect

Abstract: The extent of marine biodiversity is best understood in the context of knowing the geographic barriers to species dispersal and environmental gradients that limit species richness; i.e., biogeography. Trends in the discovery of species on Earth, including the ocean, indicate about two thirds of species have been named. Thus, we have a representative sample of ocean life. Maps of environmental variation and habitat explain why coastal seas have far greater species endemicity and richness than the deep-sea. Analyses of latitudinal gradients show how temperature is the primary driver of marine species richness globally. This gradient is increasingly bimodal due to climate range shifts of species away from the equator, leading to a doubling of fish species richness in parts of the Arctic. Moreover, cell biochemistry energetics, across all Domains of life, shows that the optimal (most energetically stable and efficient) temperature for life is 20 oC. There is evidence for this “20 oC Effect” on biodiversity at ecosystem levels in the ocean. This suggests fundamental biochemical constraints to life being able to evolve to adapt to a warmer planet.