Published August 21, 2017 | Version v1
Journal article Open

Adding the Third Dimension to Marine Conservation

  • 1. Department of Geography, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel; School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland,Australia
  • 2. he Biodiversity Research Group, The School of Biological Sciences, ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and NESP ThreatenedSpecies hub, Centre for Biodiversity & Conservation Science, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • 3. Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Polytechnic University of Marche, 60131, Ancona, Italy; Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Naples, Italy


The Earth’s oceans are inherently 3-D in nature. Many physical, environmental, and biotic processes vary widely across depths. In recent years, human activities, such as oil drilling, mining, and fishing are rapidly expanding into deeper, frontier ocean areas, where much of the biodiversity remains unknown. Most current conservation actions, management decisions and policies of pelagic and benthic domains do not explicitly incorporate the 3-D nature of the oceans and are still based on a two-dimensional approach. Here, we review current advances in marine research and conservation, aiming to advance towards incorporating the third dimension in marine systematic conservation planning. We highlight the importance and potential of vertical conservation planning and zoning from the sea surface to the seafloor. We propose that undertaking marine conservation, management and environmental decisions in 3-D has the potential to revolutionize marine conservation research, practice and legislation.


We thank Simonetta Fraschetti, the University of Salento and the ARC Centre of Excellence for EnvironmentalDecisions for hosting and supporting the "3rd International Workshop on Advancing Conservation Planningthe Mediterranean Sea" in Lecce (Italy) where we started working on this paper. We thank Ruben Venegas and workshop participants for fruitful discussions. RD thanks the European Union's Horizon 2020 project MERCES(Marine Ecosystems Restoration under Changing Euro-pean Seas; grant agreement n. 689518) and IDEM (Implementation of the MSFD to the Deep MediterraneanSea; grant agreement 110661). SK is supported by theARC. We thank Tessa Mazor and three anonymous referees for their helpful comment


RDConservation Letters 2017 Levin et al conl_12408_LR.pdf

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MERCES – Marine Ecosystem Restoration in Changing European Seas 689518
European Commission