MBON News

Fall 2020

COVID-Delayed Arctic Research Cruise Yields Late-Season Data
Researchers studying the Bering and Chukchi seas for three weeks in October found no ice and a surprisingly active ecosystem as they added another year’s data to a key climate change record. Read more here.

Joint US-Canada Zooplankton Workshop on Modeling Abundance and Distribution of Zooplankton Prey for North Atlantic Right Whales in Canadian and U.S. Coastal and Shelf Waters
Convened by Chris Orphanides, NEFSC Protected Species Branch, NOAA Fisheries; Catherine Johnson, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada DFO; Jeffrey Runge, University of Maine, MBON

Over 30 regional experts in zooplankton oceanography and North Atlantic right whale (NARW) management met virtually over four days in September to coordinate Canadian and U.S. approaches to understanding NARW foraging habitat and applications to NARW conservation strategies. The population of NARW, now at approximately 400 individuals, has been declining since 2010 and their foraging habitat has been shifting from the Gulf of Maine in summer/fall to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The causes for this decline are associated with a decline in abundance and shift in distribution of the planktonic copepod, Calanus finmarchicus, the principal prey of the NARW, and an increase in mortality due to ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement as the NARW move to new foraging areas.

There is a need to include the best knowledge about present and future patterns of C. finmarchicus abundance into NARW foraging habitat models used to inform U.S. and Canadian regulations and guidance to the shipping and fishing industries. The workshop provided an opportunity for exchange of information about NARW management, zooplankton data sharing, and zooplankton modeling approaches. An important outcome of the workshop was the creation of cross-border working groups to coordinate data sharing and deliver products useful to NARW conservation measures. A third working group was formed to identify and coordinate research on the causes of NARW foraging habitat change, for which there is strong evidence that climate drivers have resulted in warming and shifts in currents supplying water into the Gulf of Maine, affecting zooplankton abundance and distribution. For further information, please contact Gulf of Maine MBON PI Jeffrey Runge: jeffrey.runge@maine.edu.

A New Collaboration Seeks to to Assess and Monitor Biodiversity Hotspots where Marine Megafauna Share Habitat
BioTrack is a collaborative network that maps and tracks hotspots through biotelemetry and biologging. The approach integrates tracking data from tagged marine megafauna (e.g., sharks, teleosts, marine mammals, seabirds, and reptiles). Read more here.

Summer 2020

MBON and AOML Characterize Seascapes Biogeographic Regions to Understand Phytoplankton Assemblages in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
MBON, with NOAA/AOML, has characterized seascapes for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) and southwest Florida shelf nearshore environment using multivariate satellite and in situ measurements (MBON/CoastWatch Seascapes products: The effort illustrates best practices developed by MBON in collaboration with the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Research (SFER) project and NOAA/AOML. The work is described in a July 15 paper in Frontiers of Marine Science.

Ocean Scientists Create Global Network to Help Save Biodiversity
Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure changes in ocean life. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices. Read more here.

Watching for Changes in Marine Biodiversity
Changes in marine biodiversity—the variety and variability of life in the ocean—can be an early indicator of change, provided it’s noticed. Read more here.

GEO Virtual Symposium 2020
One priority for MBON is to advance global interoperability and use of standards for a minimum set of observations (Essential Ocean Variables and Essential Biodiversity Variables) through broad partnerships. On June 19, Frank Muller-Karger and Gabrielle Canonico spoke about this effort during a “Monitoring Essential Variables” panel during the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Virtual Symposium 2020. A video of the session is posted here.

U.S. MBON at CHOW 2020
Join U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) partners as they deliver insightful discussions on how to conserve biodiversity and work toward global best practices for biodiversity monitoring and data sharing. Read more here.

A New, Fast Way to Analyze Hurricane Damage to Coastal Environments
MBON, NERRS and NASA team develops automated, satellite-based method to evaluate damage caused by hurricanes and severe storms in coastal areas. Read more here.

Fall 2019

Global MBON Seascapes Now Available on CoastWatch
US and global MBON partnered with US IOOS, NOAA’s Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML), and NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) to develop and routinely generate MBON Seascapes products and make them available on NOAA CoastWatch. Derived from dynamic fields of satellite and modelled data, Seascapes are classified and used as a biogeographical framework to describe dynamic, changing ocean habitats for MBON and other applications. Seascapes provide information about the quality and extent of different oceanographic habitats or features and can be used to assess and predict the different planktonic and fisheries communities that reside within seascapes. Current Seascapes products include monthly and 8-day time steps with a spatial resolution of 1/20th of degree (~ 5 km). High resolution (1 km) case studies are planned on a case by case basis as through cooperation with US and global MBON partners.

MBON Pole to Pole Progress: GEO BON MBON Webinar and Community Discussion
On September 9, Enrique Montes, University of South Florida, presented on the tremendous progress of the MBON Pole to Pole network in the Americas region. The talk, titled “A Marine Biodiversity Observation Network Pole-to-Pole of the Americas in support of conservation and sustainable use of living resources in the sea” was recorded and is available here. In summary, knowledge on the status and trends in marine biodiversity, and associated drivers of biodiversity change across the Americas is sparse and geographically uneven. International cooperation is needed to fill observational gaps to satisfy policy targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Convention of Biological Diversity. The Marine Biodiversity Observation Network Pole to Pole of the Americas (MBON Pole to Pole) responds to this need by coordinating data collection using standard methods, and facilitating sharing of information and data, capacity building, technology transfer between nations and groups, and voluntary participation of citizens in biodiversity monitoring.

Summer 2019

MBON Tool Suite Developed to Ocean/Animal Relationships
New tools were developed by partners of the Sanctuaries MBON team in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to investigate the relationships between the ocean environment and animal communities of the Sanctuary, and to convey this information to a variety of users. Interactive infographics provide dynamic status and trend information and data-driven storytelling for use by resource managers, educators, and public constituents of the Sanctuaries. For science teams and advisory groups that need additional detail and technical capabilities, MBON is developing curated data views and map-based data discovery tools. This suite of tools - available through the MBON Data Portal hosted by U.S. IOOS - improves access to observing data on critical parameters for understanding biodiversity in the Sanctuaries. In April 2019, U.S. IOOS, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and AOML hosted a workshop to begin development of such tools for use in the Florida Keys, and efforts are underway to expand the development and use of infographics and other tools to other Sanctuaries and the Integrated Ecosystem Assessment program. MBON leverages significant investment in ocean observing and data management and visualization to bring new tools to users that aid interpretation and understanding of data about living marine and coastal resources and support management decisions.

Santa Barbara Channel MBON links Foundation Species to Biodiversity
Marine foundation species like giant kelp, seagrass, and corals, harbor great reservoirs of biodiversity in coastal oceans. Now the Santa Barbara Channel MBON team, supported in part by NOAA, has shown the extent to which one of these species, giant kelp, supports coastal ecosystems. MBON work has revealed that kelp positively affects reef biodiversity, especially predators and sessile invertebrates that form the base of the food web. Stability of giant kelp forests, moreover, stabilize the community, dampening fluctuations in populations of many other species. Long-term kelp manipulation experiments show that when giant kelp is frequently disturbed, species that depend on it decline. Finally, MBON work is making it possible to track fluctuations in kelp using Landsat satellite imagery, and now drones and hyperspectral and multispectral sensors are being used to map kelp’s health as climate changes and nutrient regimes shift. An important MBON goal is to extend our monitoring of key species like foundation species across the continuity of space to better understand how coastal impacts affect biodiversity.

Summer 2018

Advances in Molecular eDNA Techniques to Evaluate Taxa Diversity
Central to the US MBON is the development of new and innovative means to assess marine biodiversity. The MBON community has made significant advances in molecular eDNA techniques to evaluate taxa diversity - from microbes to whales - in highly contrasting ecosystems such as the Florida Keys and Monterey Bay in California. The team is examining the effectiveness of eDNA in the detection of change in biodiversity over time across Sanctuaries and other areas (e.g. the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic) in response to shifts in environmental conditions. Using a single water sample, DNA from microscopic organisms but also from larger organisms in the form of particles, skin or excrement, can be used to detect organisms ranging from microbes to zooplankton, fish, and whales. MBON projects have been central in developing best practices for eDNA and demonstrating its utility for biological observing; there is now growing consensus that this technique provides a new and exciting window into observing life in the sea.

In addition to the development of the molecular aspects, MBON projects have also advanced the means to collect samples for eDNA analysis using autonomous underwater vehicles. During summer 2018, scientists from NOAA and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute – brought together under the Sanctuaries MBON project - worked together on an experiment targeting ecosystem hotspots. Using long-range autonomous vehicles equipped with Environmental Sample Processors, researchers from NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and MBARI collected eDNA in these species-rich zones to examine their role in the ecosystem. Additionally, these samples were compared to ones gathered by traditional means to assess LRAUV sampling. U.S. IOOS supported the management of profiling glider data during the experiment via the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS), and scientists from the OAR/Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory were aboard the Ruben Lasker collecting samples for eDNA analysis. The results from these experiments offer scientists a more detailed understanding of the processes that drive the abundance and structure of marine communities in a moving ocean, which is essential for forecasting the longer-term consequences of climate change on marine ecosystems.