Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas / New Ocean Paradigm on Its Biogeochemistry, Ecosystem and Sustainable Use (NEOPS)

Research themes


With compelling evidence for global warming, ocean acidification and other environmental threats, understanding and predicting the responses of ocean biogeochemistry and the ecosystem to environmental changes has become an urgent scientific pursuit. Since the ocean plays a critical role in sustaining human beings by providing a wide range of ecosystem services, ocean governance to maintain and manage these ecosystem services is crucial. However, our knowledge of biodiversity and material cycling in the ocean, which form the foundation of the ecosystem services, is extremely limited.

This research project aims to advance our understanding of ocean biogeochemistry and ecosystem dynamics in the Pacific Ocean for the sustainable use of ecosystem services, with particular attention to the high seas. The project sets the following three goals: 1) to establish ocean provinces in the Pacific ocean based on a consistent set of pelagic biomes, 2) to evaluate ecosystem functions in each province, and 3) to propose ocean governance for maintenance and management of ecosystem functions.


The project consists of four subprojects (Fig. 1). Subproject A01 will establish a consistent set of pelagic biomes in the Pacific Ocean based on physical oceanography, dynamics of bio-elements, and molecular biogeography of plankton. Subproject A02 will investigate selected biomes for the key processes of material cycling, including primary production, dinitrogen fixation, and processes associated with the microbial carbon pump. Subproject A03 will assess the functions and values of ecosystems in each biome by 1) examining the population dynamics of migratory fish species based on the ecosystem approach, 2) assessment of both market and non-market values of ecosystem functions, and 3) establishing management objectives for sustainable use of the functions and the values of biomes. Subproject A04 will design future social frameworks for sustainable use of the ocean.

Expected Research Achievements and Scientific Significance

Our knowledge of the biota and functions of pelagic ecosystems, particularly in the central and western parts of the Pacific Ocean, is expected to advance significantly. A comprehensive database on structures and functions of ecosystems in each biome will be established to form a consistent set of pelagic biomes in the Pacific Ocean. The database will stimulate model-based studies on the ecological consequences of global climate change and will increase the predictability by serving as a baseline for the validation of model outputs. The biomes will improve ocean governance by providing conceptual and substantial frameworks for discussions. These activities will raise public awareness of the ocean.

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