Taking the Pulse of Coastal Ocean Life — Together

Ocean conservation depends on knowledge of where marine life is, how it’s changing, and why. But for most of the world, that knowledge doesn’t exist. 

MarineGEO solves this problem by connecting and empowering partners worldwide with a standard toolkit to document and understand local and global change in marine ecosystems. Here’s what we do: 

Track vital signs 
Regular surveys track long-term changes in ecosystem health and inform analyses of its causes and consequences. All MarineGEO Observatories monitor a core suite of indicators using common protocols and share them via the MarineGEO data system: 

  • Abundance, health, and demographics of plants and animals that provide habitat structure for others, such as corals, oysters, seagrasses, and kelp. 
  • Biodiversity, including identity, abundance, and functional characteristics of plants, microbes, and animals. 
  • Ecosystem processes of production, cycling, and storage of carbon and other materials,  including plant production, grazing, predation, and decomposition.
  • Environmental drivers, including weather, water temperature, and water quality

Diagnose causes of change 
Experiments are the gold standard for diagnosing cause and effect: 

Build community and capacity
Understanding change in ecosystems requires knowing the players. We work with our partners to build the biodiversity resources and local expertise to do so:

  • Train partners as necessary in biodiversity science and quantitative ecology via joint field campaigns, workshops, fellowships, and ongoing collaboration. 
  • Assemble a multifaceted, open-access biodiversity database for each site, including maps, vouchered specimens, images, and genomic resources (see examples on BOLD and iNaturalist).

Synthesize and serve knowledge 

  • Leverage the network’s diverse expertise in genomics, biodiversity, and quantitative ecology toward a holistic understanding of global marine life and ecosystems. 
  • Serve the data and knowledge we assemble through attractive, open-access portals and contribute to best practices for doing so. 

The MarineGEO toolkit

MarineGEO provides the means to collect standardized measurements to document the structure and change in health of marine ecosystems, including habitat structure, abundance, and biodiversity. The links below connect to MarineGEO’s standard protocols and data sheets. For more details, see our Science Framework and Partnership Framework

Protocol Name
Seagrass Density
Seagrass Macroalgae
Seagrass Shoots
Predation Assay
Environmental Monitoring
Beach Seines
Fish Trawls
Visual Census
Sediment Organic Matter
Seagrass Biomass
Seagrass Epifauna