OceanObs09

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Proceedings of OceanObs'09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society

PLENARY PAPERdoi:10.5270/OceanObs09.pp.15

Observing Planktonic Ecosystems: Needs, Capabilities, and a Strategy for the Next Decade

Kenneth Denman(1), T. Malone(2), S. Sathyendranath(3), M E. Sieracki(4), E. Vanden Burghe(5)

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We review the current state of our capabilities for the systematic sustained observation of ocean ecosystems, concentrating primarily on planktonic ecosystems. First, we describe the structure of ocean ecosystems - from the nutrients that support primary production, up through the plankton, and then through the various predators, from juvenile finfish to whales, sea lions and humans. We try to draw a picture of the ocean ecosystem (and related biogeochemical cycles) as complex, dynamic systems embedded in the equally complex and dynamic system represented by physical ocean processes. We describe the properties of ecosystems that biologists need to observe and understand, if they are to forecast the future behaviour of ocean ecosystems. Second, we identify the major users and uses for sustained observations of marine ecosystems. Third, we summarize how ocean ecosystems are observed from ships, trying to get across the need to describe the 'texture' as well as the dynamics of ocean ecosystems. Fourth, we review and present examples of the main components of emerging ecosystem observing systems. Finally, we discuss the gaps in existing capabilities and suggest a strategy to guide the development of sustained observations of planktonic ecosystems over the next decade.

1Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling & Analysis, c/o University of Victoria, PO Box 3065 STN CSC, Victoria, BC V8W 3V6, Canada
2Horn Point Laboratory, UMCES, 2020 Horn Point Road, Cambridge, MD 21613, USA
3Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, West Hoe, Plymouth, PL1 3DH, UK
4Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, PO Box 475 West Boothbay Harbor, ME 04575, USA
5Ocean Biogeographic Information System, Rutgers University, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, 71 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to E-mail: ken.denman@ec.gc.ca

This paper shall be cited as:

Denman, K., Malone, T., Sathyendranath, S., Sieracki, M. and Vanden Burghe, E., (2010). "Observing Planktonic Ecosystems: Needs, Capabilities, and a Strategy for the Next Decade" in Proceedings of OceanObs’09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society (Vol. 1), Venice, Italy, 21-25 September 2009, Hall, J., Harrison, D.E. & Stammer, D., Eds., ESA Publication WPP-306, doi:10.5270/OceanObs09.pp.15

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