Although we spend millions annually monitoring marine resources, these efforts are uncoordinated and have major information gaps. We propose to develop a scalable and transferable demonstration Biodiversity Observation Network (BON) in the test bed of the Santa Barbara Channel (SBC), one of the most monitored areas of the world. This BON will network existing monitoring efforts and fill the major remaining information gaps.
Our focus on SBC allows us to effectively cover the complete spectrum of biodiversity from ecosystems to microbes within a reasonable scope of funding. This is due to the profusion of existing biological monitoring and research programs by our partners including government agencies, universities and NGOs. Yet there are significant gaps in our knowledge of even this relatively well-studied area, such as microbial diversity. We propose to use a pincer strategy to attack these issues, using optical and acoustic imagery to approach diversity from ecosystem scales downwards and genetics to assess diversity from genes and microbes upwards. Expanded use of imagery will be facilitated using cutting-edge machine learning image analysis techniques developed by the UCSB Center for BioImage Informatics. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Whale Acoustics Lab will develop signal-processing algorithms to identify marine mammals from noise passively collected in SBC. Metabarcoding and eDNA analyses will benefit from state-of-the-art molecular biology labs at the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center and UCSB. Our overall objective is to provide a complete picture of biodiversity in SBC using a transferable system that integrates and augments existing monitoring programs including the NSF-funded SBC LTER program and the Channel Islands National Park. Products created by SBC BON will include geographically-integrated time-series metrics of biodiversity and ecosystem health, a transferable BON data management system, a sampling cost-benefit optimization framework that can be used to design a BON anywhere, and dissemination of products and results to a wide range of end users from scientists to schoolchildren.
Partners: Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Channel Islands National Park, USGS San Nicolas Island Monitoring, SCCOOS, Plumes and Blooms, Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, Santa Barbara Coastal Long-Term Ecological Research Program, Gray Whales Count, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Mitigation Monitoring Program, BOEM, NASA