While browsing through some of the fascinating work of the Census of Marine Life (CoML) and the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), I came across the Future of Marine Animal Populations (FMAP). What interesting and important work. CoML is a global research organization with a goal to assess the diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine species worldwide. CoML oversees a number of regional research efforts designed to census ocean habitats. As mentioned previously in MarineBio’s newsletter article on CoML, the organization seeks answers to three questions: What lived in the oceans? What lives in the oceans? What will live in the oceans?

FMAP was established to help with the predictive modeling and analysis of all 3 questions:

The past: models can interpret historical data. Linking the past with present field census data will help FMAP predict future ocean trends.

The present: modeling and analysis must be integrated into the research early on to optimize field methodology and re-design it if needed as work continues. Additionally, synthetic models are needed to understand present data collected.

The future: models effective for synthesis have potential for prediction. An understanding of the possible effects of changes in global climate or overfishing will help policy-makers make effective management decisions.

CoML realized early on that its mission was not to simply archive data on marine life, but to synthesize data on marine ecosystems to understand and deal with the massive human impacts and natural climate changes that effect them. To that end, FMAP’s goals are:

  • To use statistical analysis to improve future survey and experimental design of CoML projects
  • To ensure appropriate data format and access standards for use in models
  • To serve as the central clearing house for important advances in analysis of present and future CoML projects
  • To formulate models that increase understanding of ecosystem dynamics
  • To use the most advanced techniques available to interpret CoML data and characterize biodiversity
  • To attempt to predict future changes in marine populations

For more details, see FMAP’s site: http://www.fmap.ca/