Creating Dynamic Seascapes to Improve Observations


For terrestrial and marine benthic ecologists, landscape ecology provides a framework to address issues of complexity, scale, and patchiness. However, unlike spatial landscapes that migrate slowly with time, pelagic seascapes are embedded in a turbulent, advective ocean. 

MBON researchers are merging ecology, geography, and ocean dynamics to observe, manage, and conserve species embedded in a dynamic seascape mosaic, where the boundaries, extent, and location of features change with time.

Objective classification of seascapes using satellite remote sensing data allows for synoptic assessment of dynamic biogeographic patterns and oceanic conditions in real time. 

MBON researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the University of South Florida (USF) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) are working with all U.S. MBON projects to develop synoptic, dynamic seascapes for each region. 

Seascapes Guide Florida Keys Sanctuary March Cruise
March 2016, MBON researchers tested a new sampling plan strategy based on satellite seascape maps created by Maria Kavanaugh, WHOI. The seascape maps guided the sampling during the RV Walton Smith cruise in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The goal was to identify relationships between in situ biodiversity observations and distributions of various seascape types. Sampling different seascapes allowed the researchers to compare how biodiversity of different trophic levels is influenced by changes in ocean chemical and physical properties derived from ocean color data.  Read more...

Article in Progress:

Seascapes in MBNMS and predicting habitat for key forage species

Maria Kavanaugh, WHOI, Jarrod Santora, MBARI, Isaac Schroeder, University of California, Santa Cruz, and Jennifer Brown NOAA Sanctuaries are writing a paper describing the dominant seascapes in the Monterey Bay region and their association with patterns of occurrence of various forage species, with an emphasis on anchovy and krill. This analysis may be expanded to include a few spatial scales and possibly a regional comparison with the Southern California Bight. Assessing how seascapes change both temporally and spatially can be useful for informing biodiversity assessments in multiple sanctuaries (e.g., MBNMS, GFNMS, CBNMS, CINMS) and potential resource management applications (e.g., fisheries, whale entanglement in fishing gear, harmful algal blooms).

Florida Keys Seascapes

Seascapes have been classified over the MODIS-Aqua record within the Florida Keys (top image) and Monterey Bay (bottom image) National Marine Sanctuaries.  

Within the two Sanctuaries, seascape maps have been produced at 1 km resolution and eight–day time steps; maps for the larger eco-region (i.e. Gulf of Mexico and California Current, respectively) are produced at 4 km resolution and monthly time steps.  As of February 2016, 18 seascapes have been classified for the FKNMS,  and 12 for the MBNMS. 

In the dynamic map animations, unique distributions of satellite-derived chl-a, normalized fluorescence line height (an indicator of phytoplankton physiological state), sea surface temperature, and light are represented by different colors.  

These animations represent mean conditions over several years; conditions at any given time point may be slightly different. Nevertheless, they demonstrate how pelagic seascapes can shift, expand, and contract in time.

Monterey Bay Seascapes