Marine Biodiversity and Ecology

Sustainable Development by optimal use of oceans, seas and marine resources for increasing the economic benefits of each nation is highly inevitable. Besides the ecological significance and functional role of living resources in maintaining deep sea ecosystem, the deep sea organisms are shown to have potential for drug discoveries. Under the changing climate scenario, regime shifts and biodiversity losses are predicted. Therefore it has become important for us to document the resources available in the Indian Ocean towards which exploration of marine hotspots, inventorying and documenting its biodiversity from intertidal region through all along the Indian EEZ including the areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJs) assumes significance. Genomic approaches are expected to provide essential information for studying, monitoring and exploring biodiversity in the oceans. This can be accomplished comprehensively and repeatedly across large geographic regions and trophic levels employing next gen sequencing techniques. CMLRE is the only institute that has an ongoing program dedicated for understanding deep sea habitats and addressing the abundance, assemblage and distributional patterns of deepsea organisms.

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Marine Biodiversity and Ecology team aims to characterize and monitor deepsea biodiversity through different approaches. The continuous exploratory surveys undertaken in FORV Sagar Sampada and its data analysis are expected to unravel rich diversity assemblages of marine biota, including new discoveries and geographical records. The rapid biodiversity assessment by eDNA metabarcoding and Metagenomics has the potential to provide quantitative and qualitative measures of biodiversity from deep sea samples to establish a new benchmark for quantifying diversity of India’s marine living resources. Digitization and digital specimen of the deepsea samples along with its physical vouchering at CMLRE Referral Centre and collation of taxonomically and spatially resolved biodiversity data through IndoBIS programme would ensure their longevity as well as availability for further biodiversity research. The group is intended to develop broadly applicable tools that make use of CMLRE’s unique video and photo archives to study trends of marine mammal distribution and its habitat. The archived data will allow testing of relationships between species distributions and abundance, regime shifts, invasive species and range extensions.