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Marine World Heritage Sites
The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) joined the OBIS network as the national OBIS node in Kenya.
Kenya OBIS node
We welcome Rae Sita Pratiwi as a UNESCO volunteer at the IOC Project Office for IODE, Oostende. During the next 6 months, she will support us with the development of a national OBIS node hosted at LIPI's Research Centre for Oceanography in Indonesia
OBIS volunteer Indonesia
A training course under the auspices of the Ocean Teacher Global Academy (OTGA) on Marine Biogeographic Data processing using OBIS was organized by the IOC of UNESCO and the Iranian National Institute for Oceanography and Atmospheric Science (INIOAS) at INIOAS, I.R.IRAN which also hosts the OBIS node for the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman (PEGO-OBIS node).
OBIS training Iran
The Research Centre for Oceanography of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences joined the OBIS network as the OBIS node in Indonesia.
Indonesia OBIS node
Report from the Pole-to-Pole MBON & GOOS & OBIS workshop "Marine Biodiversity - from the Sea to the Cloud"
The Pole to Pole Marine Biodiversity Observation Network of the Americas (P2P MBON) gathered researchers and managers from Canada to Patagonia and experts from other parts of the world, at the Centro de Biologia Marinha da Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil (CEBIMar/USP) during the 2018 AmeriGEOSS Week (August 6-10, 2018). The main objective of the workshop was to promote the convergence on strategies for biodiversity monitoring and conservation in rocky intertidal areas and sandy beaches. This process continues to build the foundations of the P2P MBON network in the GEO context, in a partnership between various GEO elements (GEO BON/MBON, AmeriGEOSS, Blue Planet) and OBIS.
OBIS training MBON GOOS
Last August, 81 new datasets, 1.2M new records, and 3.5k new marine species were added to OBIS. The current version of the OBIS database now has 59 million occurrences of 121,400 species. The database report with a full dataset overview is available here.
new data load
fish diversity Biogeography Evolution
The biodiversity of most marine organisms peaks in the Central Indo-Pacific region and declines with distance from this hotspot. Although this striking pattern has fascinated researchers for over 60 years, its origins have remained unclear. In a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B in October 2018, Miller et al. explored how the timing and rates of fundamental evolutionary processes—speciation, extinction, and colonization events—have jointly shaped differences in regional species richness in percomorph fishes.
To investigate this question, the researchers first delineated eight major marine regions based on prior biogeographic studies encompassing the world’s warm and cold oceans. The geographic distributions of over 12,000 marine species, including 72% of all known marine fishes, were determined using occurrence data compiled from OBIS, supplemented with and validated against data from other repositories (e.g. FishBase). These distributional data were combined with an extensive time-calibrated phylogeny to reconstruct the history of colonization events and to quantify diversification (speciation minus extinction) rates in these regions. The researchers then tested whether present-day species richness patterns were associated with (i) the number of colonizations, (ii) the age of colonizations, or (iii) diversification rates.
The researchers found that a synergy between the timing and frequency at which fish lineages colonized marine regions was the key to explaining the discrepancies in present-day species richness. Specifically, regions with higher “time-for-speciation” were found to have higher species richness. That is, there has been more time for lineages to diversify in situ and build up richness as a result of relatively early colonization. This process occurred repeatedly among independent lineages in the Central Indo-Pacific, which experienced many colonizations from 34 to 5.3 million years ago enabling more species richness to build up over time in comparison to other warm oceans. Diversification rates, however, were highest in high-latitude cold oceans and comparable among warm oceans, and were thus uncoupled from present-day species richness patterns.
This study not only provides an explanation for the high diversity of the Central Indo-Pacific region compared to other marine regions, but also adds to the growing body of work illustrating that both the timing and rates of macroevolutionary processes must be considered in order to explain large-scale biodiversity patterns. Importantly, the results of this study reflect the geologic history of the global oceans, and therefore may be broadly applicable to other groups of organisms as well. This study is also an example of how the wealth of biodiversity data made available through databases such as OBIS, coupled with modern analytical techniques, can help provide new insights into long-standing questions in ecology and evolutionary biology.
Reference: Miller, EC, Hayashi, KT, Song, D, Wiens, JJ. 2018. Explaining the ocean’s richest biodiversity hotspot and global patterns of fish diversity. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 285, 20181314. doi:10.1098/rspb.2018.1314
OBIS data reveals that climate change will exacerbate the impact of historical overfishing on an iconic Caribbean reef fish
Grouper Conservation efforts Climate Change
The Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus) is an endangered fish species whose population has been reduced to a fraction of its historical abundance due to overfishing at spawning aggregation sites. Like many other groupers and snappers, Nassau Groupers solely reproduces during spawning aggregations where hundreds-to-thousands of fish migrate to specific sites to engage in spawning. Since Nassau Grouper spawning aggregations recur each year at predictable times linked to the phase of the moon, they are an easy target for fishermen once the location of an aggregation site has been identified. As a result, many Nassau Grouper spawning aggregation sites have been extirpated throughout the Greater Caribbean region. While some populations are recovering due to conservation, the management of this species has not yet considered how climate change could impact Nassau Grouper.
This topic was explored in a recently published paper appearing in the journal Diversity and Distributions. Here researchers from East Carolina University and the University of Texas at Austin utilized data from OBIS and a database of spawning aggregation sites to generate separate species distribution models for non-spawning adult Nassau Grouper and spawning fishes. While both of these life history stages were affected by temperature and hydrodynamic features, preferred habitat conditions differed by life history stage. In particular, spawning aggregations were characterized by a narrower thermal niche and occurred at cooler temperatures. This suggests that the spawning life stage may form a bottleneck constraining how this species responds to climate change. Indeed, under a business-as-usual climate change scenario, spawning aggregations were projected to experience an 82% decline in available habitat by the end of the 21st century. In contrast, habitats used by non-spawning adult Nassau Grouper were projected to undergo a comparatively smaller 46% decline. Even under the RCP 2.6 climate change scenario, which includes implementation of strong climate change mitigation measures, spawning habitats for Nassau Grouper are projected to decline by 30%. These decreases in habitat availability were accompanied by northward shifts in Nassau Grouper distribution and a shortening of the spawning season.</p>
Overall, this study indicates that many current-day conservation measures meant to protect Nassau Grouper may need to be adjusted to provide adequate future protection for this species. For example, the dates of seasonal closures at spawning aggregation sites will need to be adjusted to account for changes in the seasonality of spawning. Similarly, this paper tentatively identifies a few regions that could serve as climate change refugia for Nassau Grouper, which may deserve to be the focus of future conservation efforts.</p>
Reference: Asch, R.G.; Erisman, B. (2018). Spawning aggregations act as a bottleneck influencing climate change impacts on a critically endangered reef fish. Diversity Distrib. Online first. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ddi.12809.
Photo credit: Alfredo Barroso Ruiz
biodiversity loss species composition Southern Ocean
A study of the marine invertebrates living in the seas around Antarctica reveals there will be more ‘losers’ than ‘winners’ over the next century as the Antarctic seafloor warms. The results are published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
A team at British Antarctic Survey (BAS) examined the potential distribution of over 900 species of shelf-dwelling marine invertebrates under a warming scenario produced by computer models. The authors used the known distributions of 963 benthic species with ≥20 records, from <1,000 m depth, from south of 40 °S. The records came from the SCAR Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean & OBIS. The climate models used were an ensemble of 19 different models from the CMIP5 database of mean seafloor temperatures for 2099 under the IPCC RCP8.5 scenario (the most extreme of all the scenarios where emissions continue to rise throughout the 21st century).
Southern Ocean seafloor water temperatures are projected to warm by an average of 0.4 °C over this century with some areas possibly increasing by as much as 2°C. The team conclude that, while some species in some areas will benefit, within the current century, warming temperatures alone are unlikely to result in wholesale extinction or invasion affecting Antarctic seafloor life. However, 79% of Antarctica’s endemic species do face a significant reduction in suitable temperature habitat (an average 12% reduction). Their findings highlight the species and regions most likely to respond significantly (negatively and positively) to warming and have important implications for future management of the region.
Reference: Griffiths, Huw J., Andrew JS Meijers, and Thomas J. Bracegirdle. "More losers than winners in a century of future Southern Ocean seafloor warming." https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate3377.