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Ecosystems

Science

Managing our nation’s marine resources depends on coordinated scientific effort to understand and provide advice regarding the fundamental structures, functions, processes, and natural and human interactions that shape marine ecosystems and the services they provide. To accomplish this objective, our science programs include the following key components:

  • Observations, mapping, and data: Collecting, analyzing, and reporting information about living marine resources and ecosystem condition.
  • Research and modeling: Testing hypotheses about ecosystem structure and function; integrating a broad array of data; and investigating management scenarios.
  • Synthesis and evaluation: Providing scientific advice using relevant data about an ecosystem and its future status with respect to specified management objectives.

Science and Research Programs

 

Integrated Ecosystem Assessments

NOAA has a science-based decision-support process that provides the analytical framework to implement ecosystem-based approaches to management of our marine resources, including fisheries and protected resources. The assessments are based on synthesis and quantitative analysis of information regarding relevant physical, chemical, ecological, and human processes in relation to specified management objectives.

Learn more about integrated ecosystem assessments

Fisheries and the Environment

This is a research program aimed at improving our understanding of environmental impacts on living marine resources. It applies that information to improve stock assessments, ecosystem assessments, and ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management.

Learn more about Fisheries and the Environment

Habitat Science

A research program that examine the 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 

    Ecosystem Modeling

    The research modeling program examine ecosystem modeling tools, coupled with input from stakeholders, to explore the tradeoffs inherent in natural resource management decisions. These models 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