The Biodiversity Interagency Working Group (IWG) was established in 2008 as an ad hoc committee under the Interagency Working Group on Ocean Partnerships (IWG-OP) through the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP). It later transitioned to an interagency working group, still under NOPP, when the IWG-OP dissolved. It became an IWG under the Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST), a subcommittee under the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) in 2021.

Motivations and Scope

The SOST Biodiversity IWG meets quarterly to discuss topics of mutual interest to the group, including:

  • To be informed about biological research and monitoring that could contribute to federal agencies' information needs to better understand, assess, and/or manage climate-scale change and environmental impacts, in particular the stresses on marine organisms and their habitats.
  • To discover opportunities for collaborative research with other agencies on topics of mutual interest and initiate the research when funding allows.
  • To assist interagency efforts to advance standards and best practices for management and archiving of marine biological data and to ensure open access to the data.
  • To facilitate communication on vulnerable deep-sea biodiversity and ecosystem issues.
  • To integrate satellite data products with in situ observations of elements of marine biodiversity in order to increase understanding of the distribution and abundance of organisms and the integrity of ecosystems.

The IWG has been instrumental in advancing the U.S. and global Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON), including through significant interagency investments in US MBON projects from 2014 to the present. 

Other standing items for group discussion include coordination and engagement around UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development activities and programmes, including Marine Life 2030; integrating biodiversity information with animal movement and passive and acoustical monitoring; advancing new technologies; biological data and standards; deep sea research, including corals; and ‘omics.

The IWG is also engaged in efforts to advance a National Ocean Biodiversity Strategy for stewardship of the nation’s rich ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes biodiversity through a series of events such as the NOPP Ocean Life Forum (August 2023), a high-level Ocean Biodiversity Summit (January 2024), and public venues such as community conferences.

eDNA Task Team

A Task Team of this IWG focused on eDNA was established in 2022 to gain an understanding of what agencies are doing around eDNA and to coordinate federal engagement. The Task Team is co-chaired by Mike Weise (ONR), Chris Meyer (Smithsonian), and Kelly Goodwin (NOAA). Following the 2nd National Marine eDNA Workshop in September 2022, a whitepaper called for the need for a national eDNA strategy that would be federally-led. The eDNA Task Team is leading development of the National Aquatic eDNA Strategy, which is expected to be released in June 2024.


The SOST Biodiversity IWG is co-chaired by Gabrielle Canonico (NOAA), Woody Turner (NASA), and Jim Price (BOEM).

Membership is open to any federal agency representative who is interested in joining. There are over 100 members, representing many of the agencies, including NOAA, NASA, BOEM, Smithsonian, Navy, ONR, Marine Mammal Commission, DOE, USGS, NSF, NPS, USFWS, Army Corps of Engineers, and Department of State.