The vision of MBON is a community of practice that strengthens understanding of marine biodiversity and coordinates monitoring of associated changes over time through scientific observations, thereby facilitating ecosystem conservation, sustainability, and good management practices.

A growing human population depends on healthy ocean ecosystems for a number of important economic and social benefits, including high quality food, pharmaceuticals and other materials, coastal protection, recreation, transportation, and renewable energy. Changes in ocean biodiversity threaten these benefits. These changes are driven both by natural variability and direct and indirect human impacts on the ocean.



Frank Muller-Karger
University of South Florida
Isabel Sousa-Pinto
University of Porto
Mark Costello
University of Auckland

Key Objectives

  • Develop an implementation plan that leads and coordinates institutions, organizations, existing networks, and people so as to build a community of practice to promote field, laboratory, statistical and reporting methods for the global community. This will be achieved by:
  • Establish a steering group and identifying leadership for specific activities; including networking with the biodiversity and marine science communities, including within GEO, GEO BON, IOC, IABO, marine station networks, and national organizations
  • Develop a common framework for Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) within GEO BON and GOOS Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs, developed jointly with the GOOS Bio-Eco panel)
  • Foster the development of international and thematic MBON
  • Promote best practice in data management, including development of standards that aid interoperability and data integration, and publication of data through OBIS; including contributing to the GEO BON “BON in a Box” compendium of methodologies for biodiversity observations
  • Support research that supports the development of MBON
Activity 1. Developing an MBON Implemenation Plan

Lead and partners:
Lead: MBON co-chairs
GOOS: MBON is collaborating with the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) of IOC to develop standardised minimum metrics of marine biodiversity as part of the Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) of GEO BON and Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) proposed by GOOS.

OBIS: MBON is working with OBIS which is developing standards for data management and publication that enable integration and analysis of marine biodiversity data. MBON emphasizes objective knowledge of changes in marine life and ecology, and promotes the integration of regional datasets through systems such as the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) as well as other data systems like GBIF and GenBank.

Purpose: The purpose of the MBON Implementation Plan activity is to develop a living document describing an implementation roadmap
Development schedule:
In 2016, an MBON interim Steering Committee organized an Implementation Plan, including building membership and opportunities to develop international and thematic (e.g. coral reef) marine observation networks.

During 2017, MBON will have sufficient membership to formalise its governance. It may be desirable if it is possible to obtain commitment to establish an International Secretariat by 2018.

The MBON vision and strategy, and proposals on marine EBV and EOV, will be published for independent peer-review and community engagement.

During 2017 and 2018, examples of international and thematic MBON will be demonstrated, including applications of EBV to show spatial and temporal trends in marine biodiversity. These will continue to be supported by research and development of field and laboratory methods, data management protocols, and products useful in marine biodiversity research, education and policy.

Table 4 presents a preliminary time table for MBON activities. The MBON implementation plan is a living document and the timetable will be continuously updated.

Activities 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020+
Management Finalise MBON implementation plan

Form MBON Steering Committee

Publish MBON vision paper

Establish MBON Secretariat

Formalise MBON network (membership, governance) Operational network of observatories monitoring trends in marine biodiversity from local to global scales
Networking Pilot MBON in USA Build MBON network EuroMBON


Demonstrations Pole to Pole in Americas

Smithsonian’s MarineGEO

MBON portal operational, providing the first products GOOS conference OceanObs2019
EBV and EOV development GOOS BioEco propose EOV Publication comprehensive marine EBV as part of EOV Demonstration of EBV and EOV Continued development methods and EBV with new research and technologies

Table 4. Timetable for MBON. WCMB = World Conference Marine Biodiversity (Montreal)

At present, MBON is being built through support of individuals engaged in academic, government, and private sector projects. In the 2017-2018 time frame, MBON will develop a scope of resources needed as part of the implementation plan.

Activity 2. Data Management

OBIS is the world’s premier open access, online data system on the diversity, distribution and abundance of marine species. At present, more than 20 OBIS nodes around the world connect 600 institutions from 56 countries. Collectively, they have provided over 47 million observations of nearly 120,000 marine species, from bacteria to whales, from the surface to 10,900 m depth, and from the tropics to the poles. The datasets are integrated and allow search and mapping by species name or any higher taxonomic level, geographic area, depth, time and environmental parameters. OBIS provides a powerful platform through which to share and archive relevant historical observations. MBON will encourage publication of data through OBIS and its continued development.

Read more

Activity 3. Developing EBVs

MBON will follow guidelines of the Framework for Ocean Observing (FOO), working with GOOS to develop a common framework for biodiversity and biological EOVs. The GOOS Bio-Eco panel has identified EOVs for ocean biology based on a Drivers-Pressures-State-Impact-Response process that include the societal and scientific requirements of national programs, international treaties, and the scientific community. MBON facilitates the development of a common framework for EBV and EOV, informing GOOS on the integration of marine biodiversity observations within environmental variables.
Working within this framework facilitates adoption of the biodiversity EOVs in existing international ocean observing systems and regional alliances that constitute GOOS. In developing the network, MBON also recognizes the important linkages between coastal habitats and the deep ocean as an environmental continuum within which many different species live, migrate, and reproduce. Therefore, the MBON network will link communities, including for example the GEO-Wetlands initiative, with the marine community.
EBVs of interest include changes from the coast to deep-sea in the abundance of living resources, species of ecological and conservation importance, invasive species, in ecosystem structure (cover of particular species and habitat) and ecosystem function (i.e., the relationship between marine species and habitat), and the relationship and value of these variables to humans.

Read more

Activity 4. International and thematic MBON development

MBON has initiated the development of an America’s Pole to Pole BON. Participants represent geographic regions (south, central, north, Caribbean) and functional roles (governance of GEO, observation systems, data analysis, data curation, capacity building, outreach, etc.) (Table A1). The expansion of marineGEO (i.e., the Tennenbaum Observatory) internationally is underway, and options for the development of a European MBON, perhaps including Africa, are being explored. MBON is engaged with the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) which aims to become a coral reef MBON.

Read more

Activity 5. Research to support MBON

MBON participants are engaged in research and product development that supports the implementation of MBON. This includes development of EBV, EOV, field and laboratory methods, and delivery of data, publications and related products. The GEO BON ‘BON in a Box’ will be used to disseminate such material and facilitate the integration of regional knowledge and observations.
The SC will provide endorsement of research funding proposals that will contribute and commit to report progress to MBON. This will support researchers applications for national funding in countries that are GEO members.

Read more

Data Products

coming soon…

Documents & Publications

coming soon…


coming soon…


coming soon…