MEPS 316:239-246 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps316239

OBIS-SEAMAP: developing a biogeographic research data commons for the ecological studies of marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles

P. N. Halpin1,*, A. J. Read2, B. D. Best1, K. D. Hyrenbach2, E. Fujioka1, M. S. Coyne1, L. B. Crowder2, S. A. Freeman2, C. Spoerri1

1Marine Geospatial Ecology Laboratory, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708, USA
2Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA

ABSTRACT: Our ability to understand, conserve, and manage the planet’s marine biodiversity is fundamentally limited by the availability of relevant taxonomic, distribution, and abundance data. The Spatial Ecological Analysis of Marine Megavertebrate Animal Populations (SEAMAP) initiative is a taxon-specific geo-informatics facility of the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) network. OBIS-SEAMAP has developed an expanding geo-database of marine mammal, seabird, and sea turtle distribution and abundance data globally. The OBIS-SEAMAP information system is intended to support research into the ecology and management of these important marine megavertebrates and augment public understanding of the ecology of marine megavertebrates by: (1) facilitating studies of impacts on threatened species, (2) testing hypotheses about biogeographic and biodiversity models, and (3) supporting modeling efforts to predict distributional changes in response to environmental change. To enhance the research and educational applications of this database, OBIS-SEAMAP provides a broad array of web-based products and services, including rich species profiles, compliant metadata, and interactive mapping services. This system takes advantage of recent technological advances in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Internet data standards, and content management systems to stimulate a novel community-based approach to the development of a data commons for biogeographic and conservation research. To date, the global OBIS-SEAMAP database includes >1 million observation records from 163 datasets, spanning 71 yr (1935 to 2005) provided by a growing international network of data providers.


KEY WORDS: Biogeography · Marine mammals · Seabirds · Sea turtles · Oceanography · Spatial ecology · GIS · Ecoinformatics · OBIS


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