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NCCOS Project

Analysis of Marine Ecological Information Gaps in National Parks

This project began in September 2009 and was completed in September 2011

We compiled and analyzed biological and ecological data to identify information voids in support of the National Park Service’s (NPS) management of marine resources within its jurisdiction. The biological and ecological information included fish surveys, sea floor habitat maps, water quality monitoring, and coastal development tracking. The database also identified information gaps, which helped determine priorities for future data collection.

Why We Care
Coral reef ecosystems are areas of high biodiversity and provide important ecosystem, economic, and cultural resources. Several national parks have been established, in part, to protect coral reef ecosystems. NOAA has expertise in monitoring and managing coral reef ecosystems and provides assistance to the NPS on marine resource management, monitoring, and research.

What We Did
Using gap analysis, we identified, obtained, integrated, and evaluated all existing ecological, oceanographic, socioeconomic, cultural, and satellite datasets available for several NPS-managed Pacific and Caribbean marine park units. Specifically, we aggregated the following information from NOAA, NPS, and partner organizations:

  • Marine community data, including coral reefs and reef fish assessments, in the Buck Island Reef National Monument in St. Croix.
  • Marine research (tracking fish and habitat use patterns) and management issues concerning the Coral Reef National Monument and the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John.
  • Rapid ecological assessment and standard monitor data of coral reef ecosystems contained in Pacific NPS jurisdictions.
  • NOAA Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) Mapping and the Coastal Change Analysis (C-CAP) Program.

After we compiled the data, we collated it into a single, consistent, geographically organized database of information accessible to managers to guide their policy and conservation decisions. We also completed a gap analysis to identify voids in information and areas for future research.

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