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MBON is interested in all levels of diversity.

MBON is interested in all levels of diversity, as depicted in this diagram. The lower level includes habitat types within a region; the middle level includes species diversity; and the upper level includes genetic diversity within species (Credit: Palumbi et al.).

Biodiversity is critical from the perspective of ecosystem services such as food, oxygen, and socio-economic benefits that support human livelihoods. The Census of Marine Life, which concluded in 2010, greatly enhanced our understanding of the status of marine biodiversity. It also made clear the importance of clear-cut, systematic and sustainable approaches to observing and monitoring biodiversity across different levels and at a national scale.

In May 2010, NOAA co-sponsored – with six other federal agencies and the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) – a workshop of experts to develop a plan and recommendations for attaining an operational marine biodiversity observation network (MBON) for the nation. The full workshop report is available on the NOPP website or as a PDF.

As an outcome of this workshop, NOAA, NASA, and BOEM initiated a series of projects towards development of a U.S. MBON. U.S. MBON project information and news items are available on

U.S. MBON partners actively contribute to development of a global MBON and a global biological observing capability, working closely with the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network, the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) Biology and Ecosystem Panel, and the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS), among many other network partners. The three groups signed a letter of agreement in Fall 2016 committing to coordination of a global MBON.


Developing MBON: Demonstration Projects and Partnerships