The U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observing Network (U.S. MBON), an effort to improve our understanding of changes and connections between marine biodiversity and ecosystems, recently launched a new website. In addition to exploring the vision and themes of the network's demonstration projects, the site offers profiles of projects in progress and outlines future goals for data integration, animated seascape mapping, and technology applications such as new methods for genomic sampling and analysis.
Biodiversity is the proverbial "canary in the coal mine" and can be an early indicator of change in the ocean—for better or for worse—provided it's noticed. By building a comprehensive network, researchers and decision-makers hope to better understand how ecosystems are changing, more accurately forecast long-term trends, and plan for events like harmful algal blooms. U.S. MBON brings together experts in remote sensing, genomics, ecology and biogeochemistry, and data management to define and monitor ocean variables essential for studying ecosystem, biodiversity, and oceanographic conditions over time.
Spanning marine ecosystems from the Arctic to kelp forests in central California and coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Keys, three U.S. MBON projects are developing strategies to integrate biological and environmental data sets, and testing innovative molecular and remote sensing technologies and methods to observe marine biodiversity.
U.S. MBON is a partnership among NOAA, NASA, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. MBON partners are working to integrate with other networks, including the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System, NOAA's Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA), the Ocean Biogeographic Information System, the Global Ocean Observing System, and the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network to make data available and accessible locally, nationally, and globally.
The Arctic, Sanctuaries, and Santa Barbara projects are designed to demonstrate how a national operational marine biodiversity observation network could be developed. Such a network would serve as a marine resource management tool to conserve existing biodiversity and enhance U.S. biosecurity against threats such as invasive species and infectious agents. This effort supports the U.S. National Ocean Policy to "protect, maintain, and restore the health and biological diversity of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems and resources."