Marine Biology

Life in the sea is very diverse and contributes essential ecosystem services for our entire planet. Knowledge of the distribution, function, condition and development of marine ecosystems forms a necessary basis for ecosystem-based management of the resources along the coast and in the ocean.

NIVA has a competent group of marine biologists, with broad knowledge of both benthic and pelagic ecosystems, which can help increase understanding of how marine ecosystems respond to human influences and how they should be managed. Knowledge includes both distribution and function as well as the effects different types of impact can have on our coastal marine ecosystems. Our field of expertise includes:

  • Habitat modelling
  • Benthic ecology
  • Monitoring
  • Coastal zone management
  • Ecosystem services
  • Water Framework Directive
  • Scientific diving

Mapping and monitoring methods

We are a leading actor in the development of mapping and monitoring methods and tools for classifying environmental conditions in coastal areas, and we are responsible for implementing several of the major national monitoring programs. At the introduction of the Water Directive in Norway, NIVA marine biologists had key tasks in developing classification systems and intercalibration of them with other countries. The section's employees therefore have a very good knowledge of the water frame directive.

Through our long work with monitoring and research on biological benthic communities in the coastal areas, we have accumulated high expertise on the plants and animals living on soft and hard bottom, including both red-listed and alien marine species.

The marine biology section has coordinated the National Coastal Mapping Program since the pilot period in 2003, and the start of field mapping in 2007. The result of this work is that a selection of important marine habitats along the entire Norwegian coast now have been mapped. In addition to mapping in field, the development and use of spatial modelling to map the extent of marine habitats has been an important part of the work for the researchers in the section.

Photo Niva
NIVA tests various types of drones, here at Søre Sunnmøre. The picture shows a rotor drone. Photo: NIVA


Blue forest

Nothing beats blue forest when it comes to capture and storage of CO2. We are working to increase society's understanding of the blue forest's central role in carbon capture, biodiversity and economy. Furthermore, we investigate the role of the blue forest in climate accounts and ecosystem services, as well as supporting and working for blue forest and blue carbon to be put on the agenda both nationally and internationally (Norwegian Blue Forest Network). In addition to this, we investigate how key species in the blue forests affect each other and the state of ecosystems. The section has developed ecological competence on both kelp forest, eelgrass meadows and maerl beds, all important components of Norway's blue forests.

Interest in the exploitation of mineral resources in the deep sea is increasing in Norway and internationally. Section for marine biology greatly contributes to increased knowledge of potential impact and appropriate environmental monitoring so that this new industry can be managed in a good and environmentally friendly manner.

Janne Gitmark
Photo: Janne Gitmark


Marin restoration

With increased use of marine resources, increasing contamination and climate change in marine ecosystems, understanding of resilience and recovery potential is of great importance. Marine restoration is in its childhood, but through its strong expertise in coastal and deep sea ecosystems, the section contributes to innovative efforts and solutions for marine restoration, including the use of artificial reefs and transplants of both kelp and eel grass, both in urban and rural areas.

Scientific Diving

An important part of marine biology research is to be able to observe, record and execute experiments in situ. Section for marine biology has a large and competent group of scientific divers who regularly do research and monitoring in the sea, but we also have good expertise in using state-of-the-art equipment to investigate and sample the deeper ecosystems in the ocean.

Janne Gitmark 2
Photo: Janne Gitmark


Research station at Solbergstrand

At NIVA's research station at Solbergstrand we do experiments with hard and soft bottom communities. Here we can test more specific hypotheses on how, for example, pollution and increased temperature affect the function and structure of ecosystem components.

It is important to us that the results from our work will be communicated to society. Our results are disseminated in NIVA reports, reports for the Environment Directorate, the Nordic Council of Ministers and other authority bodies, as well as scientific publications and presentations at international- and national conferences. We also contribute to popular science lectures, texts and media content.

Our work and research areas:

  • Ecology of marine hard and soft bottom areas
  • Monitoring of environmental conditions in coastal areas
  • Mapping of species and habitats distribution and condition
  • Coastal zone management
  • Ecosystem services in the coastal zone
  • Ecological consequences of kelp farming and harvesting
  • Ecological consequences of seabed despositions in fjords and mineral extraction on the seabed
  • Water Framework Directive
  • Scientific diving
  • Restoration and ecological engineering
  • Red-listed and alien marine species

Links to research and monitoring projects:



seksjonssamling 2018




Last updated 19.05.2021