FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ciências do Mar

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Oceanografia [MAR-LVT-Lisboa-199] visitada em 16/01/2008

Classificação: Very Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
All three biological groups, with a total of 47 PhD's, were rated as very good. The reviewers emphasized the high productivity and the high relevance of the research. Researchers of this unit have a special and precious expertise in the disciplines of marine botany, marine zoology and ecological monitoring. This was regarded by the committee as very important and partly unique in Portugal. Questions remained about the performance of the small group "199-2009 Physical Oceanography" (6 Ph.D.'s). The exact nature of the groups' funding, the involvement in EU funded projects, the outreach activities and the training and education activities at the undergraduate and postgraduate level remained to be clarified (see group evaluation).
For all groups the committee remained with the following questions:
• What is the impact of the group’s research within and outside Portugal?
• What is the exact nature of collaborations at the national and the international level; are interactions with other groups inside and outside Portugal project-based or person-based?
• To what extent are the groups involved in conference organization?
• Are students satisfied with the training, the supervision, and the working conditions in the group?
• What are the special achievements of subprojects?
• How can some very time consuming work be accomplished without further technical support?
• What is the future of the group?

The committee was impressed by the high quality of research conducted in this unit. The committee rated the unit as very good, some of the research was rated as excellent. The committee would like to encourage the groups to continue with their research that is very important and very relevant for the areas of marine botany, marine ecology, and marine zoology. The unit should ensure that the expertise in Marine Zoology is maintained despite the merge of the group "Marine Zoology" into a larger new group "Ecology and Management of Aquatic Resources". The committee is pleased that the group "Marine Botany" continues to maintain its unique expertise that is relevant for the entire country.

Research in the unit in general is well embedded into the European context (e.g. group 2012, 2013) and the committee encourages the group to seek further project-based European and international collaborations. The small group "Physical Oceanography" encounters some difficulties. The groups' performance could in part be hampered by the fact that the leader of this group is also on duty as leader of the entire unit (see group report). Close collaboration and coordination with other Portuguese groups that do research in Physical Oceanography is recommended. As the unit aims at becoming a member of an "Associated Laboratory", such membership could be helpful to ensure such collaboration and research coordination within Portugal.

The students of all groups have expressed their contentment, despite the fact of the very limited financial resources for their research. The establishment of graduate student networks on the European level is very laudable. Students that receive grants from FCT should be encouraged to fully exploit the opportunity to visit other European laboratories. The committee very much appreciates the units' manifold activities for educating the public on topics of marine biology and nature conservation.

The unit encounters certain difficulties, due to limited financial resources. This affects the students (see above) and the amount of technical help (technicians) that is available. A special problem for the group "Physical Oceanography" is the rare and costly access to "ship time".

The committee strongly supports the plan of the unit to become a member of an Associated Laboratory. All groups of the unit could profit from the coordination of research with other Portuguese members of the associated Laboratory. Currently the variety of research topics appears to be rather high. As a member of an Associated laboratory the group may reassess its research focus (see also group reports). The research area of the marine botany group is, however, already well delineated.

Sobre os grupos de investigação
Ecology and Management of Aquatic Resources [RG-MAR-LVT-Lisboa-199-2015]
LMG [RG-X-MAR-Centro-Coimbra-199-2013]
The committee rated the overall performance of the group as very good. A productive group, which has been led by a well recognized marine scientist, Dr. Re, from 2003 to 2007. Scientific coordination of the Guia Marine Laboratory (LMG) has been an integral part of Dr. Re’s responsibilities. The team consisted of 13 Ph. D researchers and 19 people without a Ph. D. from several institutions. The focus of the research was diverse, including marine ecology (coastal and deep hydrothermal vents), integrated coastal management and marine culture (broodstock management and larval development). The group has made significant progress in these areas as reflected in the high quality scientific publications. An extensive list of publications includes peer reviewed journals, book chapters, technical reports and other publication. One of the significant achievements of the group was the contribution of 16 chapters for the book entitled “Handbook of Deep-sea Hydrothermal Vent Fauna”, which is a widely used reference guide for the marine science research community. Ornament shrimp culture and larval nutrition program for snout seabream have resulted in a start-up company, LUSOREEF. The researchers were involved in assessing the environmental impact of tourism development in southern Portugal (Troiaresort) and their findings recommended that the development of tourism will have a negative impact on the coastal environment and marine ecology. These projects have resulted in the training of students and technical personnel. There is no patent listed.
The program is relevant in terms of scientific focus, resolving the complex problems of marine ecology, coastal management and marine culture, linking their research activities with national, EU and international collaborators. The research program is also relevant to marine policy developments as well as determining the physical and biological interactions in the life history of marine fish particularly pelagic species. The two coastal marine ecology projects, a) transboundary network of marine protected areas (TRANSMAP) for integrated conservation and sustainable development and b) Peri-urban mangrove forests (PUMPSEA) as filters and phytoremediators of domestic sewage have made a significant impact. Tourism related project for the development of an environmental management system for the Troiaresort as well as industrial aspects of environmental impact assessment have had significant impacts on government policy development and decision making. It not clear whether any conferences or workshops were organized by this group.
The group was involved with EU Sixth Framework Program on specific measures in support of international co-operation with the two projects, TRANSMAP and PUMPSEA listed above. The group worked with other scientists from Portugal, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, UK, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa. They have the capability to transfer practical information from their marine ecology research projects to national and international relevant projects.
Twelve M.Sc. and 5 Ph.D. degrees were awarded to students in various programs. They received training in marine ecology, integrated coastal management and marine aquaculture with emphasis on broodstock management and larval development. Graduate students and training networks have been established at the international level, which involves working with researchers in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, UK, USA, Kenya and Tanzania.

The research program of the group has been directed in three major areas,
a) coastal ecology and integrated management, b) larval ecology and artificial propagation, and c) deep hydrothermal ecology. It seems that major achievements were in the areas of coastal ecology particularly rocky shore ecology and studies related to the colonization and succession of macrobenthic communities on artificial structures as well as integrated management and deep hydrothermal ecology. It seems that resources are limited to continue research in all three areas. It is clear that the artificial propagation research program has limited resources to continue this work even though significant efforts have been directed in this area. It would be good to develop cooperation with other research institutions within Portugal and other EU countries to develop this area and strengthen this program. FCT should consider providing additional technical support and new instruments to undertake main research projects.

The overall productivity of the group is excellent, however additional efforts are needed to increase scientific publications in peer reviewed journals. The program is relevant in terms of developing policies, environmental assessment, generating new knowledge and training students and technicians. Students are working with a limited or no research budget to complete their degree; however the quality of student training is high. Excellent collaboration in two EU projects.
Marine Botany [RG-MAR-LVT-Lisboa-199-2012]
Very good to excellent. Total number of al pubs is not mentioned, but those in the list have very good IF-factors for the discipline and already have impressive citation indices.
Very good international collaboration.
Excellent view on future research.
Is very good to excellent. Unfortunately the total number of a1 pubs is not mentioned, but those in the list (of max 10) have very good IF-factors for the discipline and already have impressive citation indices for such a short period. Unfortunately the output in a1-publications is not balanced with respect to the individual post-docs. Those who score less good should be stimulated.
The team has an excellent view on future research which frames in similar research elsewhere in Europe. Especially the micro algal mat-team as well as the group working on harmful algal blooms are very strong and productive. The macro-algal group should be stimulated for collaboration with other teams in Portugal (Faro) and elsewhere in Europe.
The infrastructure seems satisfactory. Overall there is a very good international collaboration. The team working on colonization of the Iberian Peninsula by Gymnodinium catenatum should inform about existing cores and include them for their historical research.
As a molecular study of Protists is going to be started up (which is imperative these days) international collaboration should absolutely be developed, thus avoiding duplication.
Is good, but MSc and PhD-theses are unequally spread over the postdocs with some doing much more than others.
As micro-algal collections are very time-consuming, we strongly support the addition of a part-time technician.
Marine Zoology [RG-X-MAR-LVT-Lisboa-199-2010]
The committee rated the overall performance of the group as very good.The overall publication record of the group is good, both regarding the number of the publications and the quality of the journals in which they appear. The number of publications could be somewhat higher, but the productivity is increasing, also remarkably so in the year after the investigated period (2007). Therefore, the expectations are very good in this respect, especially for some members of the group.
The research has a large applied component and is very important for fisheries and conservation. The outreach activities of the group are very good and laudable.
The feasibility of the research of this group is very good, given the promising increase in productivity, the importance of the applied research, the good level of funding, the attractiveness of the group for students and the good attendance of the outreach activities by the public.
A large number of Masters and PhD students has been supervised by this group and the students are happy. As an aside we would like to comment that most of the supervising effort is due to very few supervisors.
We recommend the group to continue the good research and to try to increase the number of international collaborations and the number of publications in high quality journals. We furthermore very strongly recommend that the excellent research supervision capability of Cabral will get more technical support, so that the attractiveness for students can be continued despite the high number of students that he is supervising.

The group is performing well. Highly relevant applied research is carried out and important outreach activities have been undertaken. The teaching is also very good. The internationalization can be improved. Furthermore a more equal contribution of the members towards the publishing of articles and teaching should be possible to improve on this already satisfying record of the group. A very large contribution regarding publications and supervision of theses comes from H. N. Cabral.
Physical Oceanography [RG-MAR-LVT-Lisboa-199-2009]
As outlined below, the committee made suggestions to improve the overall performance of the group. The group consists of 6 PhD only, with 10 non-PhD researchers. It has been mostly funded by FCT, with one EU and one INTAS project. The annual mean income per PhD is 10365 Euros, of which ~80% from FCT. The group’s main activities fit within the topics of “Oceans and climate”, “Oceanography of the continental margin”, “Estuaries, lagoons and coastal zones”, and “Conservation of natural resources, environment and pollution”, which results in almost one broad topic per PhD researcher. There is a strong geographical focus on the coastal and ocean area off Portugal. The general objectives are formulated in a way that they look more as tasks than as true scientific objectives.
Productivity in terms of scientific publications looks limited as, according to the report, it includes only 5 papers published in journals within the JCR of the ISI, three of them with an IF >2. A total of 8 Master Theses and 1 PhD Thesis are reported.
The overall impact of the work carried out by the group is limited because of productivity and geographical factors. Some workshops, courses and conferences have been organised by the group within the reporting period. Outreach activities (cf. Unit Report) are noticeable.
Extending the group’s expertise to other areas in the world ocean could possibly enlarge their involvement in international projects and enhance the relevance of the work carried out so far.
The group participates in a Twinning Programme with UBO France and contributes to “Physical Oceanography and Satellite Remote Sensing” training and education at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
The group is rather small (6 PhD) and is mostly funded by FCT. The group should improve its productivity including the number of PhD theses.
The group is essentially focussed on Physical Oceanography and also extends its interests to conservation and pollution issues, and to climate change. The group holds a satellite data archive 1991 to present (not shown to the Panel). The group participated in the support team of the Prestige accident (e.g. “oil drift model”). However, interactions with national and international research units need to be further developed, first with the main players in Physical Oceanography in Portugal.
The group is active in organising workshops, courses and conferences.
Knowledge and technology transfer is limited because of low productivity, lack of interactions and, possibly, competition and geographical factors. Extending the group’s expertise to other areas in the world ocean could possibly enlarge its involvement in international projects and enhance the relevance of the work carried out so far.
Outreach activities (cf. Unit Report) are noticeable.
PhD students in the whole unit seem to be happy and satisfied with their advisors and the work they do. Exchanges must be promoted within the frame of the Graduate Training Network agreement with the University of Western Brittany (UBO, France).
There is a strong leadership within the group, with its leader also coordinating the whole unit.

Beyond a strong geographical focus on the coastal and ocean area off Portugal, the future strategic development of the group looks unclear. The presentation to the panel included some quite old scientific results. Sometimes it was also unclear which had been the contribution of the group and which contributions from others were. The group suffers from tremendous difficulties to access to ship time, which is not unique to this group but a general problem in Portugal. The group has a lot of hope on the Argo project, for which it expects to be a national focal point.

The Panel encourages the group to develop a strategic plan for the future, including its internal organization.

Comentários da unidade

The Evaluation Panel was composed by seven biologists and one geologist, and all very distant from Physical Oceanography (PO). This justifies the lack of sensibility to this field and is apparent in most of the Panel comments on the PO group.

Unlike other marine sciences, PO demands a high degree of specialization, constraining the size of the research groups and their capability to recruit young PhD researchers. Moreover, PO observational work is especially expensive and relying only on pure research funding. Consequently, the scientific production of a PO group with a strong observational component is highly dependent on the dynamics of projects and availability of PhD students, thus tending to be irregular. As an example, during the evaluation period (2003-06) the number of ISI publications of our PO group was exceptionally low, but if 2002 (or 2007) would have been included, this number would almost triplicate (or duplicate).

If within the Panel there would be someone with background in PO (or even in geophysics), they would have recognized:

- that the group is one of the “main players in Physical Oceanography in Portugal”, whose work has much impact national and internationally (as the high number of ISI citations demonstrates);
- the successful continuous effort in performing in situ observations in the deep sea, contrasting with the less demanding coastal and estuarine observational work;
- the utilization of modern and sophisticated technology (e.g., RAFOS floats, Expendable Current Profilers) that no other group in Portugal has ever used;
- the option of focusing the work on the Portuguese waters, where many important processes occur, with impacts on biodiversity and/or climate, and on which the international scientific community (both within and outside Europe) is much interested;
- the pioneer work on subjects that motivate nowadays the international scientific community (like the Mediterranean Water influence in the Atlantic, meddy generating mechanisms, internal waves interaction with biology, etc.);
- the inestimable value of maintaining a satellite receiving station for such a long period (almost 20 years) and all the work published with the archived data;
- that the group is (and not “expects to be”) a focal point of EuroARGO and has been a reference contact for many other international initiatives (WOCE, CLIVAR, GOOS, etc.).