Census of Marine Life

Census of Marine Life

Census of Marine Life, an international program to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of living organisms in the oceans. A 10-year project involving scientists in more than 70 nations, the census began in 2001 and is directed by an international scientific steering committee, subcommittees, and national and regional committees. In addition to coordinating field surveys, which have identifed previously unknown species, the census is producing the Ocean Biogeographic Information System to manage the database that results. Historical research is also being undertaken so as to provide an understanding of the past diversity and distribution of marine species. The secretariat for the project is at the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education, Washington, D.C.
The Census of Marine Life (CoML) is an ambitious, 10-year program with the aim of answering three basic questions, "what lives in the oceans" (current and near-current data); "what did live in the oceans" (historical data); and "what will live in the oceans" (predictive / modelled data). As reported in this article in Science magazine, its genesis was a conversation between Dr. J. Frederick Grassle, a marine biologist from Rutgers University, and Jesse Ausubel, program director for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, that led to the Sloan Foundation and other funding agencies agreeing to support a series of CoML field projects (currently numbering 14); HMAP, a project to study historical abundance data for marine species; FMAP, a project to produce predictive forecasts of future marine species abundance and distribution; and OBIS, the Ocean Biogeographic Information System.

According to the official CoML web site, researchers in more than 80 countries are currently involved in CoML-related projects engaged in the collection and analysis of new data concerning the distribution and abundance of marine life in previously unexplored or underexplored areas, and the number is continuing to increase. The anticipated "completion date" for the Census is with the production of a report in 2010; OBIS, the Ocean Biogeographic Information System, is designed to remain online after that date, to provide a continuing means to access the legacy of CoML data that will have been acquired during the lifetime of the program.

The Projects of CoML

The 14 Field Projects

  • CeDAMar (Census of Diversity of Abyssal Marine Life): Abyssal Plains
  • CAML (Census of Antarctic Marine Life): Antarctic Ocean
  • ArcOD (Arctic Ocean Diversity): Arctic Ocean
  • CoMargE (Continental Margins): Continental Margins
  • POST (Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking Project): Continental Shelves
  • CReefs (Census of Coal Reefs): Coral Reefs
  • ICoMM (International Census of Marine Microbes): Microbes
  • MAR-ECO (Mid-Atlantic Ridge Ecosystem Project): Mid-ocean Ridges
  • NaGISA (Natural Geography in Shore Areas): Near Shore
  • GoMA (Gulf of Maine Program): Regional Ecosystems
  • CenSeam (A Global Census of Marine Life on Seamounts): Seamounts
  • TOPP (Tagging of Pacific Predators): Top Predators
  • ChEss (Biogeography of Deep-Water Chemosynthetic Ecosystems): Vents and Seeps
  • CMarZ (Census of Marine Zooplankton): Zooplankton

The 3 Non-Field Projects

  • OBIS (Ocean Biogeographic Information System): Information System
  • FMAP (Future of Marine Animal Populations): Oceans Future
  • HMAP (History of Marine Animal Populations): Oceans Past

See also

External links

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