DRIVEBANKS - Drivers of fish extinction and colonization on oceanic banks

The primary objective of the project is to explore drivers of variation and change in species diversity and turnover in marine ecosystems by focusing primarily on oceanic banks.

Photo: Johan Wildhagen, Norwegian Seafood Council

Patterns and drivers of marine biodiversity

We aim to generate new knowledge on patterns and drivers of marine biodiversity, particularly of patterns of fish diversity and turnover (colonization, extinction) and of the processes that maintain or change diversity at both the population and community level.

We will compare two ecosystems, the Barents Sea and the Scotian Shelf, NW Atlantic to get insights not restricted to one specific ecosystem.

Oceanic banks

Oceanic banks are shallow non-uniform spatial patterns or “hot spots” where trophic interactions among species are strong, suggesting that focusing research efforts on submarine banks within the overall marine landscape will provide an efficient and direct way to address marine biodiversity issues. 

 "" ""Oceanic banks in the Barents Sea (left) and on the Scotian Shelf (right).

Colonization and extinction of species

The structure of marine ecosystems varies in time and space, and this variation can be analysed in terms of colonization and extinction of species. Whereas terrestrial ecologists have been studying these processes for decades, such studies have been rare in the marine realm. We draw extensively on the concepts, theories and methods developed and advanced in terrestrial ecology to develop our understanding of marine ecosystems.

The equilibrium theory of island biogeography

We will use shallow offshore banks on continental shelves as an analogy to “islands” and test the equilibrium theory of island biogeography involving extinction/colonization processes and the species-area relationship. Specifically, we will investigate the effects of topography, climate and fisheries on extinction and colonization rates.

By considering different species groups (based on e.g. body size, boreal vs arctic, commercial vs non-commercial), we will assess if we can attribute the observed recent changes to climate variability and change vs fishing activities, and how the impacts of these drivers vary in space and time, and if they interact.

We will use high quality, spatio-temporal data from scientific surveys and state-of-the-art statistical modelling.

Circulation models

We will use circulation models to investigate which oceanic banks are connected and whether the connected banks are upstream or downstream from one another.

Social science and communication with fishermen and management

By adding social science and communication with fishermen and management  to the studies of ecology and oceanography researchers aim to take an even broader approach to studying banks.

The enhanced productivity on banks are well known for fisheries; fishing activities are often targeted on banks. We acknowledge the experience and knowledge by fishermen on why different banks are used (or not) as fishing areas, as well as movement and variation in fish populations over time and space.

In an added project, funded by the Fram Centre, Flagship Fjord and Coast, Tromsø, Norway, we integrate DRIVEBANKS with social sciences, fisheries economics and management by including additional participants from the Norwegian College of Fishery Science (NFH), UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Institute of Marine Research (IMR), and Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI).

This multidisciplinary approach will provide a platform for communication and the exchange of knowledge between the scientific community and the stakeholders (i.e., fishermen and fisheries organizations), for mutual benefit and improved management of our common marine resources.


Yoccoz, N.G., Ellingsen, K.E. & Tveraa, T. (2018). Biodiversity may wax or wane depending on metrics or taxa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115 (8) 1681-1683. 

Stortini, C.H., Frank, K.T., Leggett, W.C., Shackell, N.L. & Boyce, D.G. 2018. Support for the tropic theory of island biogeography across submarine banks in a predator-depleted large marine ecosystem. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 607, 155-169.

Popular outreach

The fish Laila is the main character in the film My Bank about fish diversity on ocean banks.

My Bank - English version

My Bank - Norwegian version

My Bank - with Norwegian explanations

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