Marine Biodiversity Observing Network in the Northern California Current:
Understanding patterns and drivers of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning from plankton to seascapes

PI: Maria Kavanaugh (CEOAS, OSU); Co-Is: Robert Cowen, Laurie Juranek, Su Sponaugle, Jennifer Fisher
Funding Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration ONR BAA
Partners: Jan Newton (University of Washington), Kym Jacobson (NOAA, HMSC), Jenny Waddell (Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary), Nick Adams (NOAA), Stephanie Moore (NOAA)

The Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) is a growing global initiative composed of regional networks of scientists, resource managers, and end-users working to integrate data from existing long-term programs to improve our understanding of changes and connections between marine biodiversity and ecosystem functions.” (from The NCCMBON is a collaboration between Oregon State University (led by Maria Kavanaugh), the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS, part of IOOS). The goal of the project is to extend the observational framework of US MBON to the Pacific Northwest and we aim to integrate established MBON satellite remote sensing practices with in-situ observations to inform dynamic seascapes as well as novel plankton functional type algorithms.

We will utilize NOAA biological oceanographic time series, as well as new data collected in collaboration with NOAA surveys. —for example, high-resolution FlowCytobot imaging and imaging of larger zoo-, and ichthyoplankton via the In Situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System (ISIIS). The team will also collect data on environmental DNA, ocean chemistry, as well as zooplankton and fisheries abundances. These data will be used to test hypotheses regarding the drivers and roles of biodiversity in a changing environment. Specifically, we will look at how shelf-width, upwelling regime, and regional-scale variability interact to drive spatial patterns of plankton abundance, diversity, and size structure and influence the export of carbon/food to higher trophic levels.

The NCCMBON will contribute to a suite of robust ecological indicators developed through NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and project outcomes will inform to the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary management plan, as well as the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Habitat Framework process. Data will adhere to NASA and Darwin Core standards and will be housed on the regional Integrated Ocean Observing node, Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing System (NANOOS), as well as ported to OBIS.

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A short presentation can be found at


In the US, three pilot Marine Biodiversity Observing Network sites were established through a partnership between NASA, NOAA, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Smithsonian Institution’s Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network, and the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). The pilot MBONs represent a step toward integrating multivariate oceanographic and multitrophic level ecological data in an organized, multiscale framework In concert with ship, buoy, and autonomous platform measurements, dynamic seascape categories are being used as an objective tool in the MBON to plan to sample, conduct rarefaction studies, intercompare spatial and temporal patterns across trophic levels, test hypotheses of fisheries habitat affinities, quantify habitat diversity, and examine temporal shifts in habitat quality and availability within existing jurisdictional units. Seascapes provide a framework to assess and scale up patterns of biodiversity and effects of environmental change on pelagic community structure, ranging from microbes to fish and provide indicators of habitat quality to inform marine ecosystem management.

In this project, we will be extending the observational framework of the US MBON to the Northern California Current (NCC) – a region that presents unique hydrological, ecological, and social interactions with marine biodiversity. Partners include the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, which co-manage marine resources with coastal treaty tribes in the northern part of our domain; NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, which has a long history of monitoring, developing ecologically relevant indicators, and will provide historical data and ship time to intercompare methods and track patterns of biodiversity; academic research scientists at Oregon State University who will provide innovative approaches to assessing in situ biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and dynamic habitat; and the IOOS regional association, NANOOS, which has an exemplary record of linking scientists with stakeholders, and curating and sharing data.