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Ecosystems

Science

Our nation’s economic vitality and well-being require an enhanced and coordinated scientific effort to understand the fundamental structures, functions, processes, and natural and human interactions that shape marine ecosystems and the services they provide.

Key components of the science and research programs meeting this need include:

  • Observations, mapping, and data. The process of collecting, analyzing, and reporting the best available information on ecosystem characteristics as they relate to the population of living marine resources.
  • Research and modeling. Modeling approaches provide a means to collate and integrate a broad array of data; evaluate the relative importance of several concurrent processes; test hypotheses concerning ocean system structure and functioning; formalize hypotheses; and produce predictions of both scientific and resource management interest.
  • Synthesis and analysis. Relevant physical, chemical, ecological, and human processes data and information are analyzed in relation to specified management objectives.

Science and Research Programs

Fisheries and the Environment

We work to improve our understanding of environmental impacts on living marine resources and use that information to improve stock assessments, ecosystem assessments, and ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management.

Learn more about Fisheries and the Environment

Habitat Science

We study relationships among species and their environment. Habitat science and assessments provide essential scientific advice to resource managers on the current status and future trends of marine habitats utilized by living marine resources.

    Learn more about habitat science and assessments

    Climate Science

    Science activities include tracking current conditions, providing early warnings and forecasts, understanding the mechanisms of climate impacts, and projecting future conditions all to evaluate possible options for fisheries management and protected resources conservation in a changing world.

    Learn more about climate and fisheries 

    Ocean Acidification

    The NOAA-wide Ocean Acidification Program, established by Congress in 2009, plans and oversees a long-term coastal and open ocean monitoring program and leads research on the impacts of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and the socioeconomic implications of these impacts.

    Learn more about ocean acidification 

    Integrated Ecosystem Assessments

    These assessments are based on synthesis and quantitative analysis of information regarding relevant physical, chemical, ecological, and human processes in relation to specified management objectives conducted at scales relevant to management questions.

    Learn more about integrated ecosystem assessments

    Ecosystem Modeling

    Successfully managing and recovering marine species in today’s busy ocean requires us to understand the entire ecosystem and the suite of impacts on their survival, rather than considering just one species at a time. We use sophisticated ecosystem modeling tools, coupled with input from stakeholders, to explore the trade-offs inherent in natural resource management decisions. The models incorporate population biology and a range of climate, environmental, ecological, and human impacts to the ocean. These models, which scientists and managers rely on, provide essential data for making well informed decisions.

    Plankton Data and Visualization

    Oceanic plankton constitute the largest reservoir of biomass in the world's oceans and play a significant role in the transfer of energy and materials within the oceanic ecosystems. Gaining access and insight into world's collection of historical and ongoing plankton monitoring data is essential for evaluating ecosystem health and for detecting changes in these ecosystems.

    Learn more about our plankton data and visualization work

     

    NOAA National Systematics Laboratory

    This lab conducts systematic, taxonomic, and life history research on marine organisms of economic and ecological value, thereby contributing to the understanding of marine biodiversity within marine ecosystems.

    Learn more about our National Systematics Laboratory