The overall objective of NOAA’s Estuarine Living Marine Resources (ELMR) Program is to develop a consistent data base on the distribution, relative abundance, and life history characteristics of ecologically and economically important fishes and invertebrates in the Nation’s estuaries. Specific objectives include:
- Identify key species of estuarine fishes and invertebrates in each region (West Coast, Gulf of Mexico, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and North Atlantic) of the continental U.S., based on their ecological and economic importance.
- Collect existing information (survey data sets, published and unpublished studies, etc.) for these species in each region.
- Analyze survey data sets and synthesize existing information to rank the monthly relative abundance of each species (by life stage) within each salinity zone of each estuary, using estuarine salinity zones (NOAA 1985) as a spatial framework for organizing the synthesized data.
- Collect information on estuarine life history characteristics of all of the selected species.
- Summarize and synthesize life history information in a series of tables and text summaries.
- Conduct extensive peer-review of synthesized data and life history summaries with local and regional fishery scientists and managers.
- Publish summaries of distribution and abundance data, and life history characteristics, in a series of regional reports.
- Ensure free availability of information through distribution of regional ELMR reports, web-enabled access to ELMR data, and preparation of custom data and map products upon request.
- Apply the ELMR data to address local and regional resource management issues.
- Update and revise ELMR data as needed.
In 1985, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched the Estuarine Living Marine Resources (ELMR) project to develop a consistent data base on the presence, distribution, relative abundance, and life history characteristics of ecologically and economically important fishes and invertebrates in the nation’s estuaries. It has been conducted jointly by (NOS), NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and other agencies and institutions. The nationwide data base was completed in 1994, and includes data for 153 species found in 122 estuaries and coastal embayments in five regions. Regional revisions were completed for the Gulf of Mexico and Southeast in 1998.
The data base is divided into five study regions and contains the monthly relative abundance of each species’ life stage by estuary for three salinity zones (seawater, mixing, and tidal fresh), as identified in NOAA’s National Estuarine Inventory (NEI) Data Atlas-Volume I and supplement (NOAA 1985). Regional data summary reports have been published for the North Atlantic (Jury et al. 1994), Mid-Atlantic (Stone et al. 1994), Southeast (Nelson et al. 1991), Gulf of Mexico (Nelson et al. 1992), and West Coast (Monaco et al. 1990). Regional life history summary reports have been published for the West Coast (Emmett et al. 1991) and Gulf of Mexico (Pattillo et al. 1997). A National Overview report was completed in 2000 (Nelson and Monaco 2000). All reports are available for free upon request.
Since completion of the national ELMR data base in 1994, it has been updated, revised, improved, and applied to specific problems in natural resource management. To further refine the spatial resolution of the ELMR framework, a multivariate methodology was applied to derive five bio-salinity zones in four “salinity seasons” for Gulf of Mexico and Southeast estuaries. In addition, ELMR data for the adult and juvenile life stages of species have been revised based on recent resource surveys using trawl and other gear. The revised ELMR data were then linked with the seasonal estuarine bio-salinity zones for the Gulf of Mexico and Southeast regions, and incorporated into a Geographic Information System (GIS) to enable spatial organization of the data. The improved ELMR data base has been used for a variety of applications, including Habitat Suitability Modeling (HSM), Environmental Sentitivity Index (ESI) mapping, HazMat response (oil spill) planning, and the identification of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).
ELMR relative abundance data can be downloaded from this website, by using the search keys for Region, Estuary, Species, Life Stage, and Salinity Zone as follows:
- Select Region ( GULF OF MEXICO, MIDATLANTIC, NORTH ATLANTIC, SOUTHEAST, OR WEST COAST). A list of estuaries within the selected region will appear.
- Select Estuary or estuaries within the region.
- Select Species, but remember that not all species occur in all regions.
- Select Life Stage (ADULTS, EGGS, JUVENILES, LARVAE, SPAWNING, or ALL)
- Select Salinity Zone. Each estuary contains one to five salinity zones.
- Click the Search button. Data will appear on your screen, along with a record of the search parameters.
The downloaded data file will contain sixteen fields – Estuary, Common Name, LifeStage, Salzone, and twelve months (J F M A M J J A S O N D). Data on monthly relative abundance rankings are interpreted as:
. = no data available, 0 = not present, 2 = rare, 3 = common, 4 = abundant, 5 = highly abundant.
- Nelson, D.M., and M.E. Monaco. 2000. National overview and evolution of NOAA's Estuarine Living Marine Resources (ELMR) Program. NOAA Tech. Memo. NOS NCCOS CCMA-144. 60 p.
- Pattillo, M.E., et al. 1997. Distribution and abundance of fishes and invertebrates in Gulf of Mexico estuaries, Vol. II: Species life history summaries. ELMR Rep. No. 11. NOAA/NOS SEA Division, Silver Spring, MD. 377 p.
- Jury, S.H., et al. 1994. Distribution and abundance of fishes and invertebrates in North Atlantic estuaries. ELMR Rep. No. 13. NOAA/NOS SEA Division, Silver Spring, MD. 221 p.
- Stone, S.L., et al. 1994. Distribution and abundance of fishes and invertebrates in Mid-Atlantic estuaries. ELMR Rep. No. 12. NOAA/NOS SEA Division, Silver Spring, MD. 280 p.
- Nelson, D.M. (editor), et al. 1992 (pdf only). Distribution and abundance of fishes and invertebrates in Gulf of Mexico estuaries, Vol. I: Data summaries. ELMR Rep. No. 10. NOAA/NOS SEA Division, Rockville, MD. 273 p.
- Nelson, D.M., et al. 1991. Distribution and abundance of fishes and invertebrates in southeast estuaries. ELMR Rep. No. 9. NOAA/NOS SEA Division, Rockville, MD. 167 p.
- Emmett, R.L., et al. 1991. Distribution and abundance of fishes and invertebrates in west coast estuaries, Vol. II: Species life history summaries. ELMR Rep. No. 8. NOAA/NOS SEA Division, Rockville, MD. 329 p.
- Monaco, M.E., et al. 1990. Distribution and abundance of fishes and invertebrates in west coast estuaries, Vol. I: Data summaries. ELMR Rep. No. 4. NOAA/NOS Strategic Assessment Branch, Rockville, MD. 232 p.
- NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
- NOAA NMFS SEFSC Galveston Lab, Galveston, TX
- NOAA NMFS SEFSC Beaufort Lab, Beaufort, NC
- NOAA NMFS Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Hammond, OR
For More Information
David Moe Nelson
1305 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
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