Phase I Research Themes

OTN Canada research projects are organized around five key research themes:

All these themes are interdisciplinary, interdependent, and complement one another, as can be viewed schematically below. Click on a theme in the image below for more information.

Schematic Diagram of OTN Canada Themes

Theme 1: Ocean Physics and Modeling

Migration patterns of marine animals are tuned to, and affected by, the physical, chemical, and biological conditions in the ocean. As conditions change, so will patterns of movement, possibly with profound ecological consequences. The main objectives under this theme include (1) developing integrated platforms that combine multidisciplinary observations and numerical modeling systems for OTN activities, (2) providing three-dimensional, time-dependent physical, biological, and chemical information that characterizes ocean ecosystems, with the aim to provide linkages with animal movements, and (3) allowing better prediction of past and future ocean states.

Theme 2: Biology and Behaviour of Migratory Living Marine Resources

Most sea animals associate with specific water masses, drifting with them as juveniles and migrating through them as adults, to reach highly productive sites where they feed, grow, and breed. Understanding migrations and the physical conditions that drive them is crucial to conservation, economic development, and predictions of how patterns will alter with prospective climate change and variability. The main objectives under this theme aim to understand targeted species that either represent model or keystone species for their ecosystems or that include key species at risk, and to understand these populations and movements in relation to oceanographic features and variability.

Theme 3: Trophic Interactions

The spatial and temporal characteristics of foraging by predators play important roles in structuring trophic interactions and understanding ecosystems. Because top predators are often large, long-lived, and geographically wide-ranging, characteristics of their populations can serve to integrate the cumulative effects of changes in ecosystem structure and functioning over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Hence, using newly developing technology driven by our scientific questions, predators themselves can act as ‘bioprobes’ to sample their ecosystems and also provide information on interactions with other tagged organisms. We aim to better understand predator and prey distribution in time and space in relation to ocean characteristics and to test hypotheses concerning predator and other impacts on prey populations, including important commercial fish stocks.

Theme 4: Impact of Climate Variability on Research Themes 2 and 3

Any climate change, whether long-lasting or episodic, will alter oceanographic features, animal movements, and migrations, and hence patterns of interaction, abundance, and distribution. The main objectives of this theme are to predict the impacts of long-term climate change on (1) the movements, abundance, distribution, and interactions of the species studied under Themes 2-3, (2) the physical, chemical, and biological ocean conditions measured and predicted under Theme 1 (supplemented by other observations and modeling studies), and (3) the interrelationship between (2) and (3). Accompanying these predictions is an evaluation of how future resource management must be approached.

Theme 5: Implications for Ocean Governance

While Themes 1-4 promise to exponentially increase understanding of the behaviours and status of marine species and changes in ocean ecosystems, many legal and social issues are raised not only by this new knowledge but also by the technological innovations, and by the ability of local, national, and international management systems to implement more effective and sustainable management and governance over our oceans. The objectives under this theme are to examine the adequacy of existing laws, management policies, socio-economic patterns, and harvesting practices for protecting marine species at risk in the three Arenas, and to suggest ways to weave a stronger protective net in light of increasing scientific information.