Human activities and environmental change are having major consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem services. The effects of change are difficult to predict due to limited understanding of marine food webs, and how they respond to changes in pressures.
Change may be driven from below (bottom-up), for example increased nutrients may increase plant growth, and in turn increase the amount of fish. Alternatively, change may be driven from above (top-down) by reducing the numbers of predators, and therefore allowing larger numbers of prey to survive.
In order to respond appropriately to such changes, the understanding of the UK marine ecosystem as a whole needs to be improved. A mechanism is needed to bring existing data together, target new data collection, and integrate data, models and ecosystem services within a common framework. The Marine Ecosystems Research Programme is designed to provide the resources and investment needed to support this.