FLORIDA KEYS DATA SETS
To create the integrated MBON portal for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuaries, the MBON researchers, the DMAC team, and Axiom worked with scientists at NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWC/FWRI) to review, curate and enroll historical data sets.
The FWC/FWRI MBON team is led by Kathleen O'Keife. The FWRI worked with the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center to segregate the Reef Visual Census data into 37 ecologically relevant trophic groups. The RVC focuses on hardbottom reef habitat between 1-30m depth. The researchers estimated diet composition, biomass, and other parameter estimates for each trophic group using related Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico based ecosystem models.
The teams transformed 18 years (1995-2012) of the Reef Visual Census (RVC) data from their original forms into the standards-based forms used by OBIS-USA, such as Darwin Core and the Marine Bio-Geography (MGB) common terms definitions. Guidance for this effort was derived from the “MBG 2.1 Enrollment Journal Florida Marine Sanctuaries Fish 2004 Draft 20140521” produced by Philip Goldstein OBIS-USA. The transformed data and metadata were written into NetCDF files and installed in an ERDDAP server making them available through the network via human or URL-based interfaces.
FWRI/FWC UPDATES ECOPATH
In Spring 2016, FWRI/FWC accumulated fishing related mortality data to improve their production estimates. This enabled researchers to make parameter adjustments to the initial Ecopath mass-balance model. The initial Ecopath model did not balance because the production estimates in higher trophic groups (i.e., predators) are not sufficiently accounting for fishing pressure. Therefore, their recent work has focused on estimating fishing mortality more accurately for higher trophic groups to constrain production and balance the Ecopath model.
Additionally, FWRI has constructed a series of connectivity models using a graph theoretic approach to assess the relationship between biomass, abundance, and habitat connectivity. The connectivity models may potentially be used to inform the spatial dynamics of the Ecopath model in Ecospace.
This is important for MBON because biomass declines for some prey species as functional connectivity between reefs increases. Functional connectivity refers to the facilitation or impediment of movement due to habitat types and associated preferences between reefs (e.g., sand and seagrass). For trophic groups that are generally not considered prey by predators, such as gobies and blennies, biomass increases with connectivity because they provide a functional role dependent on other species (i.e., cleaning). These results may indicate that reef isolation can benefit prey species because isolated reefs are more difficult for predators to find.
FWC DATA MANAGEMENT AND MODELING
The U.S. MBON projects are funded under the National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP RFP NOAA-NOS-IOOS-2014-2003803) in partnership between NOAA, BOEM, and NASA, with the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (U.S. IOOS) program pioneering the implementation.
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