MBON is a “coalition of the willing” who agree to share knowledge and know-how to evaluate changes of biodiversity in the ocean, including data, products, protocols and methods, data systems and software. The MBON seeks to establish a process for sustained, operational measurements of biodiversity around the globe. These observations should be collected in standardized ways, and the information shared, in order to understand how biodiversity is changing. The ultimate objective is to understand how and why life in the ocean is changing, how local changes relate to changes taking place over larger regions, and to provide information to help define options for government and intergovernmental policies relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity.

About MBON

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.
  • 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);
  • Support work led by UNEP-WCMC on development of marine indicators to support SDG 14 and Aichi Targets;
  • Foster the development of international and thematic MBON, including development of marineGEO and expansion of USA MBON projects to an all-Americas 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.
1. Developing an MBON Implementation Plan
Leads Frank Muller-Karger, Mark Costello, Isabel Sousa Pinto
Team/Partners IOC-UNESCO (GOOS and OBIS)
EBV Class
Development approach Capacity Building, Monitoring Protocol Design, Data Collection, Modelling, Assessments and Policy Support
Description To aid planning of a global network of marine biodiversity observations.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Management: Publish MBON vision paper. Establish MBON Secretariat.

Networking: Build MBON Network.

Demonstrations: Pole to Pole in Americas. Smithonian’s Marine GEO.

EBV and EOV development: Publication comprehensive marine EBV as part of EOV.

Management: Formalise MBON network (membership, governance).

Networking: EuroMBON. WCMB IV.

Demonstrations: MBON portal operational, providing the first products.

EBV and EOV development: Demonstration of EBV and EOV.

Demonstrations: GOOS conference. OceanObs2019.

EBV and EOV development: Continued development methods and EBV with new research and technologies.

Operational network of observatories monitoring trends in marine biodiversity from local to global scales.

EBV and EOV development: Continued development methods and EBV with new research and technologies.

Resources 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
Link with other activities The MBON plan by its nature links with all mentioned activities, other GEO BON activities, and through
its members, wider activities in marine science.
2. Data Management
Lead Ward Appeltans
Team/Partners OBIS
EBV Class
Development approach Capacity Building, Data Collection, Assessments and Policy Support
Description 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 publishing data. 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.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables
Link with other activities This activity will be connected with the work of the EBV Data TF.
3. Developing EBVs
Lead Mark Costello and GOOS representative
Team/Partners TBD
EBV Class
Development approach Capacity Building, Monitoring Protocol Design, Data Collection, Modelling, Assessments and Policy Support
Description 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.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Draft marine EBV Demonstration of mEBV
Link with other activities This activity will be linked with the work of the EBV Framework TF, and with the relevant activities of the EBV Working Groups.

In addition, the MBON, via the co-chairs, will remain active in:

1. Fostering the development of international and thematic MBON. In particular, MBON co-chairs and other members will actively contact potential new participants in MBON and promote the MBON vision at scientific meetings and otherwise through their community.

2. Research to support MBON. The MBON members are primarily from the marine research community. The SC Co-Chairs will encourage members to conduct research that contributes to the design, implementation and analysis of marine biodiversity data. Examples of resources produced by members include the Global Marine Environmental Datasets (GMED) and Ecological Marine Units (EMU), a 3D classification of the oceans. MBON participants are also engaged in research and product development that supports the implementation of MBON. This includes the development of EBVs, EOVs, field and laboratory methods, and delivery of data, publications
and related products. 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 research applications for national funding in countries that are GEO members.

Data Products
Documents & Publications

In Press

Beyond chlorophyll fluorescence: The time is right to expand biological measurements in ocean observing programs. The new Scientific Committee for Ocean Research (SCOR) working group 154 “Integration of Plankton-Observing Sensor Systems to Existing Global Sampling Programs (P-OBS)” wrote the article describing the need for biological observations on sustained global ocean observation networks. Boss Emmanuel, A. Waite, F. Muller-Karger, H. Yamazaki, R. Wanninkhof, H. Sosik, B.Sloyan, A. Richardson, P. Miloslavich, J. Karstensen, G. Grégori, K. Fennel, H. Claustre, M. Cornejo, I. Berman-Frank, S. Batten, S. Acinas. Limnology and Oceanography (In press).

Chapter 35 Molecular Approaches for an Operational Marine Biodiversity Observation Network. Goodwin, K.D, F.E Muller-Karger, A. Djurhuus, L. Zeigler Allen, A.E. Allen, J.P. McCrow, and G. Canonico Hyde. 2018 (In Press). In: World Seas: An Environmental Evaluation, Vol. III: Ecological Issues and Environmental Impacts. 2nd Edition. Charles Sheppard (editor). (In press)



Muller-Karger, Frank E, Patricia Miloslavich, Nicholas J. Bax, Samantha Simmons, Mark J. Costello, Pinto I. Sousa, Gabrielle Canonico, Woody Turner, Michael Gill, Enrique Montes, Benjamin D. Best, Jay Pearlman, Patrick Halpin, Daniel Dunn, Abigail Benson, Corinne S. Martin, Lauren V. Weatherdon, Ward Appeltans, Pieter Provoost, Eduardo Klein, Christopher R. Kelble, Robert J. Miller, Francisco P. Chavez, Katrin Iken, Sanae Chiba, David Obura, Laetitia M. Navarro, Henrique M. Pereira, Valerie Allain, Sonia Batten, Lisandro Benedetti-Checchi, J E. Duffy, Raphael M. Kudela, Lisa-Maria Rebelo, Yunne Shin, and Gary Geller. “Advancing Marine Biological Observations and Data Requirements of the Complementary Essential Ocean Variables (eovs) and Essential Biodiversity Variables (ebvs) Frameworks.” Frontiers in Marine Science. 5 (2018). Print. Download as PDF | doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00211

Miloslavich P, NJ Bax, SE Simmons, E Klein, W Appeltans, O Aburto-Oropeza, Andersen Garcia M, et al. 2018. “Essential ocean variables for global sustained observations of biodiversity and ecosystem changes”. Global Change Biology. Download as PDF | doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14108

Evaluation of marine zooplankton community structure through environmental DNA metabarcoding. 2018. Researchers found that all dominant copepod taxa (> 5% of total abundance) were detected with eDNA, TDNA, and morphological assessments, demonstrating that eDNA metabarcoding is a promising technique for future biodiversity assessments of pelagic zooplankton in marine systems. Djurhuus, Anni, K. Pitz, N.A. Sawaya, J. Rojas-Márquez, B. Michaud, E. Montes, F. Muller-Karger, and M. Breitbart. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods. Volume 16, Issue 4, Pages 209-264, April 2018,  https://doi.org/10.1002/lom3.10237

Satellite Sensor Requirements for Monitoring Essential Biodiversity Variables of Coastal Ecosystems. 2018. Current and planned satellites are not designed to observe the EBVs that change rapidly. This article outlines the technical specifications for a new generation of satellite sensors to collect data necessary for observing EBVs. Muller-Karger, Frank E., E. Hestir, C. Ade, K. Turpie, D. Roberts, D. Siegel, R.J. Miller, D. Humm, N. Izenberg, M. Keller, F. Morgan, R. Frouin, A.G. Dekker, R. Gardner, J. Goodman, B. Schaeffer, B. Franz, N. Pahlevan, A.G. Mannino, J.A. Concha, S.G. Ackleson, K.Cavanaugh, A. Romanou, M. Tzortziou, E. Boss, R. Pavlick, A.Freeman, C.S. Rousseaux, J. Dunne, M.C. Long, E. Klein, G.A. McKinley, J. Goes, R. Letelier, M. Kavanaugh, M. Roffer, A. Bracher, K.R. Arrigo, H. Dierssen, X. Zhang, F.W. Davis, B. Best, R. Guralnick, J. Moisan, H.M. Sosik, R. Kudela, C.B. Mouw, A. Barnard, S. Palacios, C. Roesler, E.G. Drakou, W. Appeltans, W. Jetz. Ecological Applications. Ecological Society of America. Vol. 28, Issue 3, April 2018, Pages 749-760. https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.1682

Enabling efficient, large-scale high-spatial resolution wetland mapping using satellites. New semi-automated wetland-mapping method enables coastal managers to generate high-resolution thematic maps more frequently, and better monitor fine-scale change over shorter periods.  McCarthy, M.J., K.R. Radabaugh, R.P. Moyer, F.E. Muller-Karger. 2018. Remote Sensing of Environment. Vol. 208, April 2018, Pages 189–201. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2018.02.021

Impacts of 40 years of land cover change on water quality in Tampa Bay, Florida. 2018. Changes in land cover in the Tampa Bay watershed, precipitation and wind observations were examined to understand causes of long-term changes in turbidity and chlorophyll concentration. McCarthy, M.J., F.E. Muller-Karger, D. Otis, and P. Mendez-Lazaro. Cogent Geoscience, Vol. 4, Issue 1, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1080/23312041.2017.1422956

Water quality drivers in 11 Gulf of Mexico estuaries. 2018. Fifteen years of satellite-derived turbidity data for 11 GoM estuaries revealed statistically significant relationships with several environmental variables. McCarthy, M.J., D. Otis, and P. Mendez-Lazaro, and F.E. Muller-Karger. Remote Sensing. Special Issue “Remote Sensing of Water Quality”. Vol 10(2), 255. http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/10/2/255/html



Thirty-three years of ocean benthic warming along the U.S. Northeast Continental Shelf and Slope: Patterns, drivers, and ecological consequences. 2017. Kavanaugh, M. T., Rheuban, J. E., Luis, K. M. A., & Doney, S. C. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 122. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JC012953

Implications of future northwest Atlantic bottom temperatures on the American Lobster (Homarus americanus) fishery. 2017. Rheuban, J. E., Kavanaugh, M. T., & Doney, S. C., Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 122. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JC012949

Evaluation of Filtration and DNA Extraction Methods for Environmental DNA Biodiversity Assessments across Multiple Trophic Levels. 2017. Anni Djurhuus, Jesse Port, Collin J. Closek,  Kevan M. Yamahara, Ofelia Romero-Maraccini, Kristine R. Walz, Dawn B. Goldsmith, Reiko Michisaki, Mya Breitbart , Alexandria B. Boehm, and Francisco P. Chavez. Frontiers in Marine Science Methods. Oct. Vol. 4 | Article 314. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2017.00314