The oceans supply food, mineral and hydrocarbon reserves and a range of wider ecosystem services from coastal protection to nutrient recycling. But the pressures on ocean processes and ecosystems are greater now than at any point in human history with global climatic change and pollution leading to previously unseen rates of change in marine environments.

These changes extend from over-fishing and invasive species impacts through to ocean warming, acidification, hypoxia, and other issues that can act synergistically to degrade marine ecosystems.

This theme tackles central issues in our understanding of marine ecosystem function using a suite of techniques drawn from the biological, ecological and geological sciences. State-of-the-art research aquaria equipped with recirculating experimental seawater systems allow researchers to precisely control carbon chemistry and other parameters.

Research projects examine functionally important species (e.g. ecosystem engineers) including reef-forming species from cold and tropical waters. Temporal changes in marine ecosystems are studied both experimentally and by using the palaeoceanographic archives provided by long-lived calcareous species.

Interaction with BGS marine geologists and analytical geochemists is a central component of this research theme.