The future of the oceans past: towards a global marine historical research initiative

PLoS One. 2014 Jul 2;9(7):e101466. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0101466. eCollection 2014.


Historical research is playing an increasingly important role in marine sciences. Historical data are also used in policy making and marine resource management, and have helped to address the issue of shifting baselines for numerous species and ecosystems. Although many important research questions still remain unanswered, tremendous developments in conceptual and methodological approaches are expected to contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the global history of human interactions with life in the seas. Based on our experiences and knowledge from the "History of Marine Animal Populations" project, this paper identifies the emerging research topics for future historical marine research. It elaborates on concepts and tools which are expected to play a major role in answering these questions, and identifies geographical regions which deserve future attention from marine environmental historians and historical ecologists.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aquatic Organisms / physiology
  • Extinction, Biological
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Marine Biology* / history
  • Marine Biology* / methods
  • Oceans and Seas*
  • Policy Making

Grant support

Fellowships to the BIOWEB project and by the Spanish National Program ‘Ramon y Cajal’. HO was funded by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (grant SF0180005s10). We thank HMAP for paying the publication costs of this paper. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.