Southern California Bight Marine Biodiversity Observation Network

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Ecology and Evolution

Although we spend millions annually monitoring marine resources, these efforts are uncoordinated and have major information gaps. We propose to continue our demonstration Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (BON) in the Santa Barbara Channel, and expand it to the entire region, the Southern California Bight (SCB).  Our focus on SCB allows us to cover the complete spectrum of biodiversity from ecosystems to microbes due to the profusion of existing biological monitoring and research programs by our partners including government agencies, universities and NGOs. We propose to use a pincer strategy to attack these issues, using remote sensing, optical and acoustic imagery to approach diversity from ecosystem scales downwards and genetics to assess diversity from genes and microbes upwards with the goal of developing future capacity for satellite observation of marine biodiversity. 

We will develop and validate optical oceanographic measures of pelagic planktonic biodiversity from the Plumes and Blooms (PnB) time-series study applied to SBC MBON genomics and other observations of phytoplankton diversity. Observation and modeling of SBC LTER kelp forest sites using hyperspectral drone imagery and Landsat satellite observations will be focused on the simultaneous assessments of giant kelp and phytoplankton.

Expanded use of imagery will be facilitated using cutting-edge machine learning image analysis techniques developed by the UCSB Center for BioImage Informatics. Imaging will be paired with acoustics to observe fish diversity. Metabarcoding and eDNA analyses will benefit from state-of-the-art molecular biology labs at the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center and UCSB and our partnership with CalCOFI and SCCWRP.

Our overall objective is to provide a complete picture of biodiversity in SBC using a transferable system that integrates and augments existing monitoring programs.  Our data management program distributes research quality citable data with stable DOIs that will be visualized on the project website as well as the MBON Portal. Products created by SBC BON will include geographically-integrated time-series metrics of biodiversity and ecosystem health, a transferable BON data management system, and dissemination of products and results to a wide range of end users from scientists to schoolchildren.