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Biology: Integrating core to essential variables (Bio-ICE) task team report for marine mammals

January 1, 2022

Marine mammals are wide-ranging, relatively long-lived organisms that play a crucial role in maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems. Often referred to as ecosystem engineers and sentinel species in marine ecosystems, these charismatic megafauna feed at a variety of trophic levels, affecting food web dynamics and cycling of chemicals and nutrients in the water column as well as in benthic habitats, both nearshore and in the deep ocean. An understanding of their abundance and distribution is an essential starting point for evaluating their role in ocean ecosystems. Accordingly, marine mammals have been included among key variables to monitor in ocean observing systems, from core variables for the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) to an Essential Ocean Variable (EOV) for the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). They also contribute to several Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) for the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON). Further, evaluation of the health of marine mammal populations will help deliver societal benefits by contributing to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development; informing reporting activities such as the World Ocean Assessment; and supporting achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 14, the post-2020 framework for the Convention for Biological Diversity, and a new treaty for conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction.

In the U.S., the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are required to produce stock assessments for marine mammals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA, 16 U.S.C. §1371 et seq.). Stock assessment analyses require accurate, up to-date information on abundance and distribution to inform appropriate management and/or conservation measures. Despite the availability of information on abundance and distribution within the stock assessment reports, availability and accessibility of the underlying data to the broader ocean observing community and contribution to EOVs remain inconsistent.

Publication Year 2022
Title Biology: Integrating core to essential variables (Bio-ICE) task team report for marine mammals
Authors Samantha E. Simmons, Abigail Benson, Matthew Biddle, Gabrielle Canonico, Maggie Chory, Kruti Desai, Masha Edmondson, Jason Gedamke, Stacie K. Hardy, Margaret Hunter, Anu Kumar, Laura Lorenzoni, Brian D. Melzian, Keith Mullin, Kim M. Parsons, James Price, Shannon Rankin, Patricia E. Rosel, Heather R. Spence, Sofie M. van Parijs, Michael J. Weise
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Index ID 70238580
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center