Smithsonian Institution Marine Science Network


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Marine Science at SI

Marine Science at SI

Smithsonian Marine Science supports one of our strategic plan's grand challenges:
"Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet"

Marine Station researchers collecting interstitial samplesThere are four main unifying disciplinary themes to Smithsonian marine research: 

1. Systematics - description of patterns of biodiversity in the sea

2. Evolutionary Biology - determination of the patterns and mechanisms of the origin, maintenance and loss of species, and the phylogeny of marine organisms

3. Ecology - discovery of the mechanisms that structure and process matter, energy and biodiversity at varying scales of ecological organization in the sea

4. Geology - determination of the biogeochemical processes in the formation of ocean features

Biogeography -  is a key research element linking systematics, ecology and evolutionary biology. Mechanisms of biogeographic isolation are central elements in evolutionary theory, population dynamics, conservation biology, and patterns of biodiversity.  Biogeographic patterns are crucial data in the determination of introduced and native species. Site-specific, long-term measurements of environmental variables allow for analysis of change over multiple time scales, which is necessary to detect patterns in typically noisy ecological data. 

Smithsonian Marine Science includes the Smithsonian Marine Science Network which is uniquely positioned to monitor long-term change at its component sites. It has an extensive array of programs involving scientific diving that address many of the most pressing environmental issues in marine ecosystems, including: biological invasions, eutrophication, harmful species and parasites, plankton blooms and red tides, linkages among coastal ecosystems, global warming including sea-level rise, El Niño/La Niña, UV radiation impacts, habitat destruction, fisheries impacts, ecology of key habitats (estuaries, coral reefs, mangroves, sea grasses, wetlands) and biodiversity inventories.

The Smithsonian’s marine education programs consist of public outreach and professional training. A series of these activities are aimed at promoting awareness and conservation of marine environments, and communicating the Smithsonian’s research findings to the general public. By integrating research with education, the Smithsonian produces tomorrow’s discoverers while pursuing today’s discoveries. The public is engaged with interactive exhibits, symposia, popular books, lectures, and films about the marine environment. The Smithsonian Marine Science contributes to the public interest by disseminating novel environmental information around the globe. Its research helps build a solid foundation for informed decisions about environmental policy, natural resource management, and conservation. 

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