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News

Job opening at OBIS - Data Science Officer

IOC of UNESCO is seeking to recruit a Data Science Officer to join the OBIS secretariat based at the IOC Project Office for IODE in Oostende (Belgium), to provide data management support to the secretariat, customer support and training to the network of OBIS nodes and its user community. An important part of the job will include working for the European Commission Horizon 2020 project on monitoring Ecosystem Services (ECOPOTENTIAL). The job requires excellent data management, analytical and communication skills. Deadline for applications: 15 January 2017.

December 09, 2016 - OBISvacancy data science officer

5th OBIS Steering Group report published

The meeting report of the 5th session of the OBIS Steering Group is online. 44 decisions and recommendations were adopted including the election of a new co-chair: Mr Sky Bristol (USGS/OBIS-USA), who will support co-chair Prof Eduardo Klein (USB-Venezuela/Caribbean OBIS).

November 30, 2016 - OBISsteering group community

Extracting and Enriching OBIS Data with R

Programmatic access to biodiversity data is revolutionising large-scale, reproducible biodiversity research. In this series of tutorials we show how OBIS data can be accessed programmatically from within the Open Source statistical computing environment R. This exposes OBIS data to the full range of manipulations, visualisations, and statistical analyses provided by R. It also makes it possible to link and enrich OBIS data, combining it with other environmental, geographic, and biological data sets to better understand the distribution and dynamics of marine biodiversity.

November 22, 2016 - Tom Webbdata access R data products

Visualisation of biodiversity richness, gaps and completeness

Proposed new OBIS visualisation of marine species richness, gaps and completeness. Using Belgium as a test case.

November 17, 2016 - Tom Webbbiodiversity data products

Deep-sea biodiversity - a known unknown?

Our deep-sea might be richer in species that we think based on geographic ranges and species discovery trends

November 16, 2016 - Nick Higgsdeep sea biodiversity

Occupancy Modelling in Marine Data - An example use case with OBIS

This post is a proof-of-concept on the application of occupancy modelling to extract robust temporal trends for tracking changes in ocean biodiversity and identifying potentially at risk species, exploiting the largely underused temporal dimension in unstructured OBIS data. This could significantly expand the range of marine taxa that can be included in synthetic indices of the state of marine biodiversity.

November 15, 2016 - Alun Jonesdata products modelling

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Use cases

Multimodal SADs linked to spatial and taxonomic breadth

species distributions OBIS data

Species abundance distributions (SADs) depict the relative abundance of the species present in a community and describe one of the most fundamental patterns of species diversity. In our recent study, we analysed over 100 datasets covering different taxa and habitats, and showed that c. 15% of the SADs were multimodal with strong support, indicating that multimodality is a more common pattern than currently appreciated. We also showed that this pattern is more prevalent for communities encompassing broader spatial scales or greater taxonomic diversity, suggesting that multimodality increases with ecological heterogeneity. Our results emphasize the need for macroecological theories to include multimodality in the range of SADs they predict. Furthermore, differences in SAD shape across different scales provide important insights into the current endeavour of biodiversity scaling. OBIS was an invaluable source of high quality data, including metadata, from where we retrieved 25 datasets that met our selection criteria. Being able to access the data in a centralized repository was instrumental in terms of gathering appropriate data in a timely manner.

Prevalence of multimodal species abundance distributions is linked to spatial and taxonomic breadth. Laura Henriques Antão, Sean R. Connolly, Anne E. Magurran, Amadeu Soares & Maria Dornelas. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 2016. DOI: 10.1111/geb.12532

Systematic biodiversity change - global reorganisation of species pools

species composition biodiversity change

The extent to which biodiversity change in local assemblages contributes to global biodiversity loss is poorly understood. 100 time series from biomes across Earth were analysed to see how diversity within assemblages is changing through time. They quantified patterns of temporal alpha diversity, measured as change in local diversity, and temporal beta diversity, measured as change in community composition. Contrary to their expectations, they did not detect systematic loss of a diversity. However, community composition changed systematically through time, in excess of predictions from null models. Heterogeneous rates of environmental change, species range shifts associated with climate change, and biotic homogenization may explain the different patterns of temporal alpha and beta diversity. Monitoring and understanding change in species composition should be a conservation priority.

This study, which appeared in Science, used 80 time series datasets from OBIS.

Dornelas, M.; Gotelli, N.J.; McGill, B.; Shimadzu, H.; Moyes, F.; Sievers, C.; Magurran, A.E. (2014). Assemblage time series reveal biodiversity change but not systematic loss. Science (Wash.) 344: 296-299. DOI 10.1126/science.1248484

Deep-sea diversity patterns are shaped by energy availability

ophiuroids deep sea

The deep ocean is the largest and least-explored ecosystem on Earth, and a uniquely energy-poor environment. The distribution, drivers and origins of deep-sea biodiversity remain unknown at global scales. Here we analyse a database of more than 165,000 distribution records of Ophiuroidea (brittle stars), a dominant component of sea-floor fauna, and find patterns of biodiversity unlike known terrestrial or coastal marine realms. Both patterns and environmental predictors of deep-sea (2,000–6,500m) species richness fundamentally differ from those found in coastal (0–20m), continental shelf (20–200m), and upper-slope (200–2,000m) waters. Continental shelf to upper-slope richness consistently peaks in tropical Indo-west Pacific and Caribbean (0–30°) latitudes, and is well explained by variations in water temperature. In contrast, deep-sea species show maximum richness at higher latitudes (30–50°), concentrated in areas of high carbon export flux and regions close to continental margins. We reconcile this structuring of oceanic biodiversity using a species–energy framework, with kinetic energy predicting shallow-water richness, while chemical energy (export productivity) and proximity to slope habitats drive deep-sea diversity. Our findings provide a global baseline for conservation efforts across the sea floor, and demonstrate that deep-sea ecosystems show a biodiversity pattern consistent with ecological theory, despite being different from other planetary-scale habitats.

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