About the project

Increasing pressure on nature due to anthropogenic drivers is leading to a reduction of global biodiversity and its associated benefits at the planetary scale. In coastal environments, the most important direct drivers of biodiversity loss are: fishing, land and sea use, climate change and pollution. These drivers have accelerated in the last 50 years (IPBES, 2019) and they are predicted to continue (Leclère et al, 2020), despite international efforts in the last decades (Convention on BioDiversity, CBD, Aichi targets).

In order to guide further action, it is therefore urgent and important to develop “fit-for-purpose” observation tools. These observations should be capable of assessing and monitoring how the community structure and function of coastal ecosystems will respond to the anthropogenic and natural drivers in a changing climate. This overarching topic translates into high priority research questions such as (Muller-Karger et al., 2018):

  • How will biodiversity change with land and sea uses and pollution compounded with climate change?
  • How will these changes affect the ecology and biogeochemistry of coastal habitats?
  • What are the relationships between the biodiversity and coastal ecosystem function and services?
  • Which regions are hot spots of resilience or sensitivity to the aforementioned drivers?  


Montage of images showing fishing, deforestation and pollution


Observations for a greater understanding

The answers to the research questions can only be addressed by the combination of observations of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs, Pereira et al., 2013) with environmental variables (e.g. temperature, river discharge) and estimates of direct drivers.

The BiCOME project will develop and demonstrate that EBVs, relevant for scientific and monitoring applications, can be obtained from state-of-the-art remotely sensed reflectance close to the shoreline, and that they can be scalable globally. By addressing relevant scientific and societal problems.

To achieve this ambitious goal, the approach consists of adapting established robust global ocean colour satellite datasets (Ocean Colour Climate Change Initiative, OCCCI) to work close to the shoreline, by applying the latest improvements on satellite processing for the coastal zone and by preparing for the advent of operational hyperspectral satellite imagers.

The project is one of three studies that form part of the European Spacy Agency's 'Biodiversity+ Precursors' on Terrestrial (EO4Diversity), Freshwater (BIOMONDO) and Coastal ecosystems (BiCOME).

This 2 year project started in October 2021 and will complete in October 2023.

Project objectives

1) Identify and characterise critical applications (Pilot Studies) of remote sensing to study coastal biodiversity.
2) Evaluate existing and planned sensor capabilities for each Pilot Study.
3) Engage with the community of biodiversity stakeholders (scientific and policy makers) and the remote sensing community throughout the project.
4) Define the activities necessary to utilise current and planned sensors to detect measures of marine biodiversity; or define new approaches, if the existing ones are not considered capable to fulfil the targeted science objectives.


There are four partner orgnisations that bring a breadth of experience and specialisms to BiCOME:

Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Project coordination and management and Pelagic case lead

Nantes University

Intertidal lead


EO corrections lead