CoPe RCN: New Technology to Inform Coastal Science and Management

Award Period
Award Amount
Agency Name
National Science Foundation
Award Number
PI First Name
PI Last Name
Erika Eliason Parsons
Nicholas Nidzieko
Area/s of Research
Ecology and Evolution
Marine Conservation, Policy and Education
Natural Marine Resources

We propose an RCN focused on the planning and development of Regional Ecosystem Services Observation Networks. RESONs are regionally-focused networks of sensors and data sources necessary to take the pulse of coastal ecosystems, spanning their structure, function, and services provided to people. In our vision, RESONs extend the framework of the regional Ocean Observing Systems (OOSs) to explicitly consider biodiversity, ecosystem function, and species migration in the context of fisheries and coastal infrastructure needs. Our RCN will bring together marine scientists, modelers, engineers, spatial statisticians, and computer scientists from academia and industry in collaboration with stakeholders and managers.

Intellectual Merit:

This RCN is needed because time series data have been collected in coastal systems at great expense, but the spatial and temporal scales of these monitoring efforts are inadequate to address regional and global shifts in coastal communities, biodiversity and ecosystem services that result from climate change, pollution, and fishing. Urgently needed are cheaper, faster, higher-quality ways to collect time series data with broad spatial coverage that captures time scales of ecosystem processes and moving marine animals. Filling this need will greatly accelerate progress on Rules of Life and climate change research in marine ecosystems and enable management responses and community adaptation to change. We will focus on three data targets: biodiversity, ecosystem function, and species migration, using the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CC LME) as an initial model, and will leverage existing networks including Southern California Coastal OOS, LTER, MBON (Marine Biodiversity Observation Network) and ATN (Animal Telemetry Network). Variables considered will include sound, imagery, environmental DNA, biomass, movement, and physiological performance. The goals of the RCN will be to 1) develop a series of workshops to identify effective combinations of sensors and measurements and plan spatial and temporal sampling regimes necessary for building and validating models adequate to forecast future ecosystem change; 2) identify specific data products, sensor and sensor platforms needed to address gaps, engaging stakeholders and managers to ensure relevance to policy; and 3) build a sustained collaborative network with the technology sector focused on coastal ecosystem health.

Broader Impacts:

To broaden participation in these activities, we will coordinate with the NSF GOLD Active Societal Participation In Research and Education (ASPIRE) program, which aims to cultivate a generation of geoscientists with the leadership knowledge and skills, scholarship, and material support to reframe and rebrand the geosciences as socially relevant. We will also work with the UCSB Engineering Capstone program, a year-long, project-based course offered to students that pairs fourth-year engineering students with research projects to create an engineered solution for real and meaningful problems across the disciplines of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering. UCSB is a Hispanic Serving Institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution with a population of >40% first generation college students that is uniquely located directly on the coast, which, together with its strengths in marine science, engineering, and environmental science and management, makes it an ideal location as an inclusive national network hub for coastal science.