2015 – Edition

Patterns and processes in boundary marine ecosystems

Presentation of the edition

Most water-mass boundaries described in oceanography refer to transitional physical structures such as thermoclines, haloclines, surface layers, marine fronts and nepheloid layers. These ergocline regions have often been defined as areas of sharp gradients in physical and biogeochemical properties, where the rate of diffusion is a key ecological quantity. Such structures contribute to slow down the horizontal and vertical exchange of properties, including suspended particles and planktonic organisms. It has long been recognised that these structures sustain strong biotic and abiotic interactions and favour the confinement of the suspended matter which is transformed in situ by the organisms.

Many authors generalise this idea considering these boundaries as interface regions where the magnitude of the ecological flows (nutrients, organisms, matter, energy, or information) abruptly contrasts with that of the surroundings.

Other well-known ocean boundaries are located in the interface between the water column and the seabed, where benthic organisms play a notorious role in the exchange of matter and energy.
Margalef considered these types of boundaries as sites of direct ecological flows between two subsystems -turbulent and stable-, where a high shear stress (or an analogous tension function) is generated and where biological production is enhanced. Most of these boundaries are asymmetric in terms of productivity (P/B), being it higher in the unstable side, whereas biomass accumulation is greater on the stable one. The study of these interesting processes and patterns in marine boundary systems requires multidisciplinary approaches.


The Summer Course is organized as a joint effort of the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM, www.icm.csic.es) and the Catalan Association of Oceanographers (ACOIO, www.acoio.org). Josep  Maria Gili, Josep Lluís Pelegrí and Celia Marrasé principal investigators of the ICM will be in charge of all scientific and lecturing activities. Eli Bonfill and Aurora Requena, members of ACOIO will handle all the organizational issues.


The aim of this Colloquium is to enhance the exchange of ideas and to promote imaginative thinking by bringing together ecological knowledge from experts on different scientific areas.

The Colloquium is inspired by the figure of Ramon Margalef (Barcelona, 1919-2004), who worked for many years in the Institute of Marine Sciences and the University of Barcelona. He was one of the founders of modern ecology. He broke old paradigms and contributed to science with innovative theories about the space-time structure of the ecosystems, the relations between diversity, biodiversity, stability and connectivity, the fundamental paper of energy in the biological productivity and the interrelations between ecological succession and evolution. He wrote around 400 papers and books including, “On certain unifying principles in ecology”, “Perspectives in Ecological Theory”, “Information Theory in Ecology”, and “Our Biosphere”. Margalef was also an encouraging teacher and mentor.

Margalef recognized the importance of the physical environment to understand the behaviour of species and ecosystems. We believe this third Colloquium will be, again, an excellent opportunity to foster lectures and discussions on the relevance of an interdisciplinary perspective in Ecology. We expect to attain this important aim through a very dynamic colloquium, with an important component of discussion, exchange of ideas and research.

For the 2015 edition this central topic will be “Patterns and processes in boundary marine  ecosystems”

The Colloquium will be organized as follows:

  • Masterly lessons of one hour during mornings (15 hours).
  • Practical activities in the afternoon (6 hours); the student will be trained in image analysis applied to benthos ecology and remote sensing.

– Jordi Isern.- An Introduction to Ocean Remote Sensing – Practical lessons.

Carlos Domínguez-Carrió.-Video analysis – Practical lessons.

– Open discussions on cross-boundaries ecology topics (4 hours), lead by students.

– Posters discussion. Participants are encouraged to bring along a 3’ presentation together with a poster describing their research. One full afternoon will be dedicated to discuss the students’ research.

– Other activities. There will also be other activities, such as cultural activities within the city and a guided excursion to Natural Park of Medes Islands, in Costa Brava, including a boat trip and diving. (not included at the registration fee).


Monday 6 July


Welcome with Albert Palanques, Director of the Institute of Marine Sciences
Welcome talks: Plankton and hydrographic boundaries: from small-scale density stratification to frontal systems


Student presentations
Icebreaker beer

Tuesday 7 July


Remote sensing/image analysis

Wednesday 8 July


Conference: The cells of ecosystem functioning in the Mediterranean Sea by Ferdinando Boero
Conference: The ecological and evolutionary impact of the quasi-ubiquitous boundary imposed by the vertical structure of the water column by Maurizio Ribera d’Alcalà
Conference: Sea and the City: spatio-temporal variability in coastal systems by Estela Romero


Remote sensing/image analysis

Thursday 9 July


Remote sensing/image analysis

Sunday 10 July


Friday discussion
Discussion syntesis



The lectures, discussion sessions and computer sessions will be imparted and supervised by researchers from the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM–CSIC) together with several visiting scientists from other institutions (University of Las Palmas de Gran CanariaUniversity of BarcelonaStazione Zoologica Anton DohrnUniversità del SalentoStony Brook University (SoMAS),Arizona State University(School of Life Sciences-Neuer Laboratory), University of Cambridge). Additionally, each student group will be assigned to a scientist who will supervise his work on the selected research topic and there will be several young scientists who will help with the computer sessions.

Course directors

Celia Marrasé, ICM-CSIC, Spain, tel.+34 932309591, e-mail: celia@icm.csic.es,
Josep Lluís Pelegrí, ICM-CSIC, Spain, tel. +34 932309514, e-mail: pelegri@icm.csic.es

Key participating scientists

Miquel Alcaraz
Roger Urgeles
Josep Maria Gili
Andrea Gori
Marta Ribes
Estela Romero
Susanne Neuer
Luke Skinner
Maurizio Ribera
Ferdinando Boero
Gordon T. Taylor
Pablo Sangrà
Lluís Cardona
Jordi Isern
Carlos Dominguez Carrió

Logistic organization

Elisabet Bonfill, President, ACOIO
Aurora Requena, Secretary, ACOIO

Xavier Jardí, Coordinator, AS

Institutional support OF THE EDITION