Questions for ICoMM working groups

Below are questions that will guide each of the working groups. It is not exhaustive and discussion leaders are encouraged to address additional issues that might be relevant to the goals of ICOMM.

  • Diversity:
    1. What are the most timely and important questions regarding benthic microbial diversity?
    2. What metric can be used to describe microbial diversity?
    3. For molecular measures, what are the strengths and weaknesses of single-gene, genomic, and populations-level perspectives? Which of these will have the greatest long-term benefits
    4. How should the dynamics of diversity be handled, and should the approach be based on species (phylotypes) or populations?
    5. How will approaches to microbial diversity differ from those used in the Census of Marine Life, which focuses mainly on metazoans?
  • Integration:
    1. What level of biodiversity is necessary to interpret ecological, physiological and process-related observations?
    2. How can process and ecological data inform us about diversity and what levels of information are required?
    3. What are the key scientific questions that a census can address?
    4. Where are the gaps in the investigative framework?
    5. How is diversity related to process stability? Can predictive frameworks be defined?
  • Sampling, prioritization and coordination with other programs:
    1. Schedules, locations and priorities.
    2. Relationship to sampling program in the Census of Marine Life and other ongoing or currently planned sampling efforts.
    3. Are there mileposts that will logically define phases of the project?
    4. What observations are needed at each sampling site? Density of sampling: A key question or hypothesis 'Is everything everywhere' ? If we could demonstrate unequivocally that everything is everywhere, it will reduce the requirements for sampling.
    5. How should we address temporal variations?
    6. How should we address spatial heterogeneity, particularly with regard to commensal populations and chemosynthetic environments (e.g. seeps, whale falls, wood falls)?
  • Databases:
    1. What is the structure of the information that will be produced?
    2. What are the specific database needs for benthic systems?
    3. What are the preferred techniques for carrying out a census in benthic systems?
    4. How can databases be structured to facilitate communication?
  • Relationships with other programs:
    1. RIDGE, ODP, Genomes to Life, Microbial Observatories, RCN
    2. What are the future opportunities that are currently funded for sampling? How can sample access be coordinated?
    3. Biodiversity Organization issues: Centralized, Coordinated, Distributed, Combinational Models
  • How to Proceed:
    1. Funding Strategies
      1. What are the highest priorities?
      2. Where could ICoMM seed monies be most effective towards initiating programs and collaborations in benthic systems
      3. What are the key programs for benthic studies? How can benthic diversity research be better advocated within these or other programs for multi-institutional and international programs?
    2. White Papers
      1. What audiences should be targeted?
      2. What are the important questions?
      3. What are the important messages?