1949 - 1969
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1969 - 1985
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Short history of the Mediterranean benthic bionomics

From the early 50’s, the Station Marine d’Endoume (Marseille), guided by the director, Prof. Jean-Marie Pérès, began to develop new methods of research on the Mediterranean benthos (1), and more particularly on its bionomics, because at that time the word ecology was still not in common use. So “bionomics” is still employed today!

In 1955 the first publication on the benthic bionomics of the Western Mediterranean was issued: a comparison with that of the northeastern Atlantic (2). It was followed in 1958 by the “New Manual of Benthic Bionomics of the Mediterranean Sea”, it too with Pérès & Picard as authors. At the same time the first postgraduate education in France in marine biology and biological oceanography was created at the Station Marine d’Endoume (University of Aix-Marseille, of which the Marine Station was a part). In 1961, J. M. Pérès published for his postgraduate students vol. 1 of “Biological Oceanography and Marine Biology” (3); vol. 2 was issued in 1963.

In 1964 the 2nd edition, revised and corrected, of the “New Manual of Benthic Bionomics of the Mediterranean Sea” was issued (4). This edition is still available and is stil a basic book for any oceanographer and marine biologist working in the Mediterranean. It gave rise to the school of marine bionomics, internationally known as the Ecole d’Endoume which has influenced many oceanographic disciplines. Thus, there are few works on the Mediterranean by marine geologists and palaeontologists that do not include a reference to this manual. J. M. Pérès published a last review on benthic bionomics in 1982 in Vol. V of the treatise on "Marine Ecology" (5), edited by Otto Kinne (Heligoland, Germany).

J. M. Pérès retired in 1982. F. Blanc, the new director of the marine station changed the focus of its research. This led to the abandonment of the fields that for three decades had established and maintained the reputation of the Station. A concomitant change of name to “Centre of Oceanology of Marseille” a b marked the end of a prestigious past. End of 1985, the scientific journal of marine biology Téthys, edited since 1969, stopped definitively - the last issue was a tribute to the former director J.M. Pérès.

Gradually, molecular biology and population genetics are replacing benthic bionomics and so the Ecole d'Endoume has “closed its doors”. Its faculty - marine biologists - are now all retired… and are not being replaced.

And finally, end of 2011, the Station Marine d'Endoume... and its famous centenary story snapped - the lab was created by A. F. Marion in 1889. Similar cases occurred in other Mediterranean places, like Banyuls (France) or for the replacement of Ramón Margalef in Barcelona (Spain) en 2004.

  • See:
  • Read more in :

  • (1) Pérès J. M. & J. Picard, 1951. Nouvelle carte des fonds du Golfe de Marseille. Vie et Milieu, 7 p. avec carte.

    (2) Pérès J. M. & J. Picard, 1955. Biotopes et biocoenoses de la Méditerranée occidentale comparées à ceux de la manche et de l’Atlantique nord-oriental. Arch. zool. Exp. géné., 92 (1), 1-71.

    (3) Pérès J. M., 1961. Océanographie biologique et Biologie Marine. Vol. 1 « Vie benthique », Presses universitaires de France, Paris,  541 p.

    (4) Pérès J. M. & J. Picard, 1964. Nouveau manuel de Bionomie benthique de la Mer Méditerranée. Recueil des Travaux de la Station Marine d’Endoume, 47 (31), 3-137.

    (5) Pérès J. M, 1982. Ocean Management. In : Marine Ecology Ed. O. Kinne, Wiley, London, 5 (1), 642 p.

    Boury-Esnault N. et al. (2023). The Station Marine d’Endoume, Marseille: 150 years of natural history. Zootaxa 5249 (2), 213–252.

     a Those who decided on the change of name had to ignore that the word oceanology was invented by J. M. Pérès in 1966! (photo in front)

     b The various names when located on the original site at Malmousque (rue de la Batterie-des-Lions, 13007 Marseille).

    • 1889-1900 : Station zoologique d’Endoume – Antoine-Fortuné Marion (1846-1900), director 1889-1900.
    • 1900-1939 : Laboratoire Marion.
    • 1939-1982 : Station Marine d’Endoume – J. M. Pérès (1915-1998), director 1948-1982; C. C. Emig, deputy-director 1978-1982.
    • 1983-2011 : Centre d’Océanologie de Marseille.
      * In 2012, it is removed and the staff is distributed between the Institut Méditerranéen d'Océanographie (MIO), located on the Campus Luminy, F-13009 Marseille, and the Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d'Écologie marine et continentale (IMBE), on the Campus Saint-Charles, F-13003 Marseille.

    • Since it remains as the name of the buiding of the origin al head office, located in Malmousque (area of Marseille), housing part of the staff of those both Institutes.

    Best thanks to my friend Nestor Sander Rotsen for English improvement

    Our knowledge of Mediterranean marine benthos has a "limited value" according to the weak support of adequate political decisions and lack of adequate financial support.

    Problems, gaps and apparent deficiencies in the knowledge of Mediterranean biodiversity can be listed but not exhaustively:

    1. Lack of information on global deep-sea benthos.

    2. Lack of information on biodiversity distribution at different scales.

    3. Lack of information on long-term biodiversity trends related to the no-renewal of the taxonomists and systematicians, before retirement.

    4. Lack of clear idea of the anthropogenic impacts

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