Consorzio Nazionale Interuniversitario per le Scienze del Mare (CoNISMa)


The Consorzio Nazionale Interuniversitario per le Scienze del Mare (CoNISMa) is a consortium that at present includes 32 Universities and more than 700 professors and researchers. It was founded in 1994 by prof. Francesco Maria Faranda, who aimed at promoting coordination among Universities whose staff is routinely involved in Marine Sciences. CoNISMa headquarters are located downtown Rome near the Piazza del Popolo.

Mission and research

CoNISMa aims at fostering collaboration not only among its members, but also between them and other Italian and foreign Universities and research Institutions. CoNISMA is supervised by the Italian Ministry of University and Scientific and Technological Research and is a member of the Marine Board of the European Science Foundation. While CoNISMa is mainly involved in basic and applied scientific research in marine biology, it deals with other disciplines as well, ranging from geology to engineering to law.

Marine facilities

Eight coastal research vessels up to 29 m based in Ravenna, Pesaro, Ancona, Bari, Lecce, Palermo, Civitavecchia and Genoa, with research equipment for benthic and water column sampling, full support to SCUBA diving and ROV operation. High-resolution seafloor data acquisition and acoustic imagery in shallow and deep waters are available on vessels based in Bari and Palermo. Smaller boats/RIBs, scientific divers, diving facilities, still and video photography are available at most associated Universities for survey, sea-truth, sample collection and experimental manipulation.

Laboratories and Platforms

Wet labs and aquarium facilities, ranging from less than 100 L to more than 2000 L tanks and equipped for measuring and controlling environmental conditions, are available at most associated Universities. Special tanks (e.g. polar or deep-sea) are available at some Universities. Services for sampling and maintenance of marine organisms, taxonomic analyses, molecular biology, microscopy and imaging are available everywhere at associated Universities. Microbial biotechnology labs are available at some Universities, as well as facilities for chemical analyses of seaweater, sediment and organisms. Contaminants in food and in other biotic and abiotic matrices can be analyzed at most associated Universities, while some are also able to process samples for stable isotope analyses. Bioinformatics expertise as well as advice and training for statistical data analysis, mathematical modelling, software development, machine learning and artificial intelligence applications is available at some associated Universities. Data analysis and modelling skills range from community ecology to primary productivity, from fish biology to morphometrics, from spatial analysis to time series analysis, from fisheries to conservation issues, and from risk assessment to molecular methods. Data analysis and modelling capabilities are also available for physical oceanography and interactions between sea and atmosphere. At all associated Universities dedicated staff is available for training visitors.

Main marine models

Model species are available at most Universities thanks to dedicated collection and maintenance services and to easy access to all the most relevant marine ecosystems. While each University may focus on some models only, support for working with any other model can be provided by other associated Universities.

Research topics

  • Marine biology and ecology
  • Oceanography
  • Marine geology
  • Community ecology
  • Marine biodiversity and conservation
  • Ecosystem dynamics
  • Data analysis and mathematical modelling