Partnership in action
Profile: The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS)…
Partnership in action
Profile: The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS)
As science develops and the amount of information on a single subject increases, it becomes increasingly hard to be “an expert” in any one discipline. In addition, the problems that society now faces are complex and require expertise across many disciplinary boundaries to come up with solutions. An increasingly common approach is to form interdisciplinary partnerships and work closely together, a strategy that also provides opportunities for the sharing of resources, reduces competition and increases efficiency.
A wide range of experts is needed to study the marine ecosystem, including all types of biologists, plus physicists, climate experts, chemists and sedimentologists, and the interaction between different people, industries and the socio-economics of human behaviour is increasingly interwoven into the study.
The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS), which was established in 2009 with support from the Scottish Government, is an excellent example of scientific partnership in action. MASTS is a cooperative initiative that brings together the majority of Scotland’s marine research capacity. It pools the talent of over 700 researchers and the management of resources consisting of over £66 million annually, in marine science from across Scotland. The primary focus of the MASTS research agenda is scientific excellence, but it also actively responds to the Scottish Government’s Marine Vision for clean, healthy, safe and productive seas. MASTS will help to deliver this strategy through a better understanding of marine systems and their biological and physical dynamics, and has established three overarching Research Themes to promote these objectives, underpinned by research forums which are the major delivery mechanism for MASTS science.
MASTS Research Themes
Dynamics and properties of marine systems
This theme embraces the fundamental physical attributes and dynamics of marine systems including marine physics, chemistry, sedimentology, geomorphology and oceanography. It also includes technological developments that allow improved interpretation of marine systems.
This is a key area of MASTS activity, with major scientific challenges encompassing the balance of exploitation against the resilience and capacity of natural systems to supply resources against a backdrop of increasing demand and climate change. Both energy and food security are included and are fundamental drivers of marine science.
Marine biodiversity, function and services
The link between the diversity, distribution in space and time, and resilience of marine organisms is central to this theme. It also encompasses the role of marine biodiversity in supporting ecosystem function and providing ecosystem services across the variety of marine habitats, from coastal wetlands and estuaries to the deep sea, as well as research on the societal value that is placed on these systems and their ecology.
The MASTS group is drawn from across Scotland and reflects the strength and depth of Scottish marine expertise, and has been growing as new partners join.