August 2, 2010

Overview of U.S. Marine Biodiversity Published

Marine biodiversity of the United States is extensively documented, but data assembled by the United States National Committee  for the Census of Marine Life demonstrate that even the most complete  taxonomic inventories are based on records scattered in space and time. Measures of biodiversity other than species diversity, such as ecosystem and genetic diversity, are poorly documented. In a paper recently published in the journal PLoS ONE, a large team of researchers, including Biodiversity Institute Curator Daphne Fautin, summarized the knowledge—and some of the major gaps in  knowledge—of marine biodiversity of the United States as of late 2009.

Among the research team’s recommendations were:

  • More information must be obtained through field and laboratory research and monitoring that involve innovative sampling techniques (such as genetics and acoustics), but data that already exist must be made accessible.
  • All data must have a temporal component so trends can be identified.
  • As data are compiled, techniques must be developed to make certain that scales are compatible, to combine and reconcile data collected for various purposes with disparate gear, and to automate taxonomic changes.
  • Information on biotic and abiotic elements of the environment must be interactively linked.

The paper, "An Overview of Marine Biodiversity in United States Waters," is available on the PLoS ONE web site.