Global Observational Needs and Resources for Marine Biodiversity
The diversity of life in the sea is critical to the health of ocean ecosystems that support living resources and therefore essential to the economic, nutritional, recreational, and health needs of billions of people. Yet there is evidence that the biodiversity of many marine habitats is being altered in response to a changing climate and human activity. Understanding this change, and forecasting where changes are likely to occur, requires monitoring of organism diversity, distribution, abundance, and health. It requires a minimum of measurements including productivity and ecosystem function, species composition, allelic diversity, and genetic expression. These observations need to be complemented with metrics of environmental change and socio-economic drivers. However, existing global ocean observing infrastructure and programs often do not explicitly consider observations of marine biodiversity and associated processes. Much effort has focused on physical, chemical and some biogeochemical measurements. Broad partnerships, shared approaches, and best practices are now being organized to implement an integrated observing system that serves information to resource managers and decision-makers, scientists and educators, from local to global scales. This integrated observing system of ocean life is now possible due to recent developments among satellite, airborne, and in situ sensors in conjunction with increases in information system capability and capacity, along with an improved understanding of marine processes represented in new physical, biogeochemical, and biological models.