Please select your home edition
Edition
Wildwind 2016 728x90

Observations could signal threats to ecosystems we depend on

by WHOI on 28 Apr 2013
Marine biodiversity is key to ocean health and human well-being. Courtesy of Gustav Paulay and Steve Haddock http://www.whoi.edu/
A group of oceanographic experts are seeking the establishment of a national network to monitor the diversity of marine life, a key bellwether of ocean and human health. Their work is described in the April 11 issue of BioScience.

Lead author, Professor J. Emmett Duffy of William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science and his co-authors, including Heidi Sosik, a biologist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), say a comprehensive marine biodiversity observation network should be a national priority and could be established with modest funding within five years. The other authors hail from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the University of Kansas, the Florida Museum of Natural History, the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, and the University of California Davis.

'Biodiversity of the oceans is so central for human and ecosystem health alike,' says Sosik. 'We hope to bring much-needed attention to the ways scientists, resource managers, and concerned citizens can act now and come together to support a Marine Biodiversity Observing Network.'

Sosik is a member of the steering committee that developed and convened a three-day workshop on Attaining an Operational Marine Biodiversity Observation Network in May 2010. The workshop had sponsorship from seven federal agencies with participation by 35 invited scientists from the U.S. and abroad and 13 agency representatives. The paper provides a summary of the synthesis and recommendations generated from the workshop.

'It surprised me how quickly and unanimously the expert participants in our workshop were able to find consensus on specific and realistic recommendations for action,' Sosik says. 'We all recognize how threatened marine habitats are from humans by impacts such as climate change, pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction, and invasive species. It is critically important to protect the ocean’s biodiversity.'

To be most effective, the authors say, a biodiversity observation network would monitor biodiversity at all biological levels, from microscopic genes to regional ecosystems. It would also link observations of biodiversity to the physical factors controlling sea life such as water temperature and water quality, and be flexible enough to detect and track emerging issues as environmental conditions change.

The authors also stress that an observing network for marine biodiversity should be 'designed by nature, not people.'

Says Duffy, 'The location of the network’s individual sites should be based on where organisms live, and on factors like water temperature and currents, rather than on political boundaries. That will ensure that insights into biodiversity change and its causes are environmentally relevant.'

They envision a network with sites along both the East and West coasts of the United States, with other nodes focusing on the deep sea and coral reefs. A U.S. network would complement regional efforts already underway in the European Union, New Zealand, and elsewhere, and could incorporate technology and lessons learned from existing 'ocean observing systems' that focus on measurements of physical factors such as water temperature, wave height, current speed and direction, salinity, and oxygen levels. Such an observing system is in place off Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory, a leading research and engineering facility operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that provides real time and archived coastal oceanographic and meteorological data for researchers, students and the general public.

The technology for a marine biodiversity observation network already exists in the form of high-tech gear such as AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles), ROVs (remotely operated vehicles), ocean drifters, monitoring buoys, and automated optical and acoustic sensors (such as the Video Plankton Recorder, Imaging FlowCytobot, HabCam, and the DMON whale monitoring system, all developed at WHOI). These would complement and extend ship- and shore-based research efforts, both by academic researchers and a cadre of citizen scientists.

'Developing human resources is as important as technical innovation in creating a successful network,' the authors write. 'To maximize participation and accessibility, [the network] should . . . result in products that are widely usable. Creative use of citizen science could also broaden support, engage the public, and reduce costs.' Collected data—whether from new observations or historical research—would be made readily accessible online, allowing for analysis of current conditions and long-term trends.

An important recommendation emerging from this study is for immediate action to launch one or more integrated marine biodiversity observation network (MBON) demonstration projects. A comprehensive MBON will necessarily mature gradually, but we cannot afford to delay initiating an end-to-end observation program that spans from genes to ecosystem function.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the oceans and their interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the oceans' role in the changing global environment.

Zhik Dinghy 660x82Bakewell-White Yacht DesignHelm Events 660x82

Related Articles

Fourth Blog from on board Perie Banou II
Oh no - not the coffee cup Oh no - not the coffee cup - Jon keeps us all entertained as he approaches Reunion Island. The B&G chartplotter tells me since leaving the pleasant mid Western Australian town of Carnarvon (by world standards, an isolated town), that I have sailed some 2559 NM and have 751nm to go to Le Port Reunion Island. French. Reunion is a Suburb (department) of Paris. Population 844,000.
Posted on 23 Nov
Third Blog from onboard Perie Banou II
Wind over the last week has been quiet and mild - Trade Winds from South East and South South East. It is 0830am here. 1030 in Western Australia. Windy. Rather Windy. Wind over the last week has been quiet and mild - Trade Winds from South East and South South East. Barometer 1018 to 1020 whatever they are. Last night I tapped the barometer and it sorta went oops. 1015hPa. Blimey.
Posted on 18 Nov
Second Blog from onboard Perie Banou II
This is day 13 since leaving the mid Western Australian town of Carnarvon. Remote region. Beautiful town. This is day 13 since leaving the mid Western Australian town of Carnarvon. Remote region. Beautiful town. Kept cooler by the strong south winds, which make the trees bend and grow to the north. Carnarvon is nice, especially the months of September, October, November, and December. The wind is strong. Often near gale strength, with squalls and blue skies.
Posted on 15 Nov
Mayflower 400 Crowdfunding Campaign
On 24th October a Crowdfunding campaign was started to help raise funds to build the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) On 24th October a Crowdfunding campaign was started to help raise funds to build the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) which aims to sail across the North Atlantic Ocean in 2020 in the footsteps of the Pilgrim Fathers.
Posted on 5 Nov
Predictwind - Images of Hurricane Matthew's trajectory - 0800GMT Oct 7
Hurricane Matthew is now moving up the Florida coast, having bypassed Miami. Hurricane Matthew is now moving up the Florida coast, having bypassed Miami. In these images from Predictwind's wind mapping facility we can see the path and shape of the of the hurricane as it moves past Daytona Beach moving along the US coast before coming to a stop around Jacksonville.
Posted on 7 Oct
Predictwind - Images of Hurricane Matthew's trajectory - 1
In these images from Predictwind's wind mapping facility we can see the path and shape of the of the hurricane Hurricane Matthew has wrecked havoc in the Caribbean and Haiti in particular. In these images from Predictwind's wind mapping facility we can see the path and shape of the of the hurricane as it moves towards a landing point on the US coast just north of Miami and then moves along the US coast before coming to a stop around Jacksonville. A second hurricane is aimed at Bermuda.
Posted on 6 Oct
Terry Kohler, driving force of North Technology dies at 82
Terry Kohler who purchased North Sails was the driving force behind the North Technology Group, has died aged 82 Terry Kohler who purchased North Sails from Lowell North over 30 years ago and was the driving force behind the North Technology Group, has died aged 82. With the combined company of North sails and Southern Spars, Kohler created the 'Engine above the Deck' concept which married the technology used to build the sails and spars to be designed and work as an integral unit.
Posted on 21 Sep
'Grate Art' in Hong Kong
Hong Kong charity pioneers environmental awareness through innovative storm grate installations In an effort to help Hong Kongers play their part in protecting the world’s ocean, Ocean Recovery Alliance is raising awareness through a unique public art installation called ‘Grate Art’. Hong Kong’s drainage system is one of the main sources for debris outflow into the ocean, and Ocean Recovery Alliance is tackling this problem upstream through an initiative that uses “art for awareness”.
Posted on 14 Sep
Zhik sailors win 17 sailing medals at 2016 Olympic Regatta
The 2016 Olympic games are over and what a Games they have been - Zhik sailors dominated Zhik sailors won almost 60% of the medals contested at Rio de Janeiro. It was a regatta which tested sailors and gear - with one day being the most severe conditions ever experienced at an Olympic regatta. For the Zhik team riders on the waters of Rio, four years and more of hard work and dedication have paid off for many.
Posted on 29 Aug
Rio official murdered ten months before the Olympics
Rio de Janeiro is a troubled city and a reeling Olympic host, but it will always have beautiful Guanabara Bay. Does an unsolved murder of an official in Rio in charge of cleaning up Guanabara Bay say a lot about the state of platy in the magical city? Priscilla Pereira was murdered 10 months ago and the thinking is that she was murdered in relation to her work
Posted on 31 Jul