MBON Portal Includes Biodiversity Indices

X-MBON DMAC Collaboration: The MBON projects are collaborating with IOOS DMAC teams. Monthly MBON calls focus on data management and integration processes.  The team includes Margaret O’Brien, Santa Barbara Channel Islands, Matt Howard, TAMU/GCOOS, Jennifer Bosch, U.S. IOOS, Francisco Chavez, MBARI and Abby Benson, OBIS. The team continues to work on data curation standardization and collecting input from researchers on integration of environmental data. Demonstrations were given at the MBON All-Hands meeting in Silver Spring, MD, May 3, 2016.

U.S. MBON Portal Launched

May 2016, the beta version of the MBON portal includes historical datasets from the Florida Reef Visual Census (RVC), California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) program larval fish and egg surveys, and the Bering Arctic Subarctic Integrated Survey (BASIS). Researchers can access the regional portals through the U.S. IOOS website:  Florida, California and Arctic.  MBON researchers are verifying calculations and making programming refinements.  The MBON PIs and teams will organize demo meetings with key users and experts to obtain input and discuss specific research and monitoring uses.  The outcomes of these meetings will help define potential technical, visual and functional changes to support user needs, and develop tutorials and instructions.

The MBON portal enables researchers to sort, or filter specific species data by time, taxon, area, habitat (benthic class), etc., and recompute and graph the results through an intuitive online interface.  This enables researchers to assess changes over time, for given species and location.   


In addition, the MBON Portal includes seven biodiversity indices to filter data. They include:

  • Alpha diversity: an index of biological diversity within a particular area or ecosystem, and is usually expressed by the number of species (i.e., species richness).  The tool calculates alpha diversity as the average of event values within the selected area;

  • Gamma diversity: a measure of the differences in alpha diversity between sampling sites;

  • Beta diversity:  combines Gamma and Alpha < > a count of distinct species;

  • % Dominance (Berger-Parker): the numerical importance of the most abundant species;

  • Shannon-Wiener Diversity index: quantifies the uncertainty associated with species prediction;

  • Pielou's Evenness: quantifies how close in count each species is within a sampling event.


(See Whittaker, R. H., 1972: Evolution and Measurement of Species Diversity. Taxon, 21, 213-251. doi:10.2307/1218190)

Example: NOAA’s SEFSC Reef Visual Census: Average fish length (cm) distribution. Figure shows time-varying fish length within selected polygon.

The MBON DMAC teams are developing interactive portals (one per region) that are integrating data sets from those regions.  

MBON data sets include:

  • biodiversity observations of organisms from microbes to whales (including presence, abundance, productivity, genomic, phenology, and other relevant ecological process measurements or indices)

  • Habitat characterization and habitat diversity measures; this includes satellite data and added-value data derived from satellite observations and neural network model results, such as biogeographical seascape classifications.

​The MBON data management teams include scientists working in U.S. IOOS Regional Associations in Alaska, Central and Northern California and the Gulf of Mexico.   In partnership with IOOS Regional Associations (RA’s), the MBON portals will also link to NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (ORR) using the Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA) and the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC).  Other links will include the

February 2016 MBON PORTAL BACKGROUND: Integrating Regional Datasets to Support Decision Making

USGS’ Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON).​


Central to the U.S. MBON vision is the use of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (U.S. IOOS) Data Management and Communication (DMAC) system as a means to delivering real-time, delayed-mode, and historical data for in situ and remotely-sensed physical, chemical and biological observations. 


Key providers of biological data include Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) programs, fisheries (e.g. NOAA’s Fisheries Science Centers), seabird and marine wildlife institutions and others. The groups are working to integrate long-term datasets and standardizing metadata, formats and defining essential marine biodiversity variables.