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Past and future grand challenges in marine ecosystem ecology


Frontiers in Marine Science launched the Marine Ecosystems Ecology (FMARS-MEE) section in 2014, with a paper that identified eight grand challenges for the discipline (Borja, 2014). Since then, this section has published a total of 370 papers, including 336 addressing aspects of those challenges. As editors of the journal, with a wide range of marine ecology expertise, we felt it was timely to evaluate research advances related to those challenges; and to update the scope of the section to reflect the grand challenges we envision for the next ten years. This output will match with the United Nations (UN) Decade on Oceans Science for Sustainable Development (DOSSD; Claudet et al., 2020), UN Decade of Ecosystems Restoration (DER; Young and Schwartz, 2019), and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs; Visbeck et al., 2014). First, we analysed each published paper and assigned their topic to a maximum of two out of the eight challenges. We then extracted the 3-5 most cited papers within each challenge using two criteria: the total number of citations during this six-year period, and the annual citation rate (i.e., the mean annual number of citations since publication). We then collated the topics covered by this reduced list of papers (Table 1) and summarised the outcomes for each topic.