An Ecological Characterization of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Region

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An Ecological Characterization of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Region

Oceanographic, Biogeographic, and Contaminants Assessment

Cover showing Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Region

Project Description

This ecological characterization represents the continuation of a five-year ongoing partnership between the National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) and the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment (CCMA). The purpose of this collaboration is to apply a biogeographical approach to the management of marine resources within the National Marine Sanctuaries. This particular work, conducted in collaboration with the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS) and scientists conducting research within the Gulf of Maine region, builds on and advances biogeographic techniques developed for other National Marine Sanctuaries including, Channel Islands, Cordell Bank, Gulf of Farallones, and Monterey Bay. At the onset of the project, CCMA, SBNMS, and NMSP staff identified a set of targeted research topics to fill existing gaps in baseline environmental data and enhance the understanding of key ecological patterns and processes to support the Management Plan Review process. Four objectives were addressed in the ecological characterization of SBNMS included: 1) conduct analysis of geospatial distributions of selected fishes, seabirds, marine mammals, and contaminants within the Sanctuary and Gulf of Maine region, 2) identify biological and physical datasets that can be used to augment existing Sanctuary data for a comprehensive biogeographic assessment in a GIS environment, 3) identify ecologically important areas within the Sanctuary and surrounding region, and 4) model the physical and biological dependencies that may explain the temporal and spatial dynamics of the ecosystem represented within the Sanctuary and Gulf of Maine region.

The ecological characterization consists of three complementary components: a text report; a suite of quantitative spatial and statistical analyses that characterize physical, contaminant, and biological patterns of the Stellwagen Bank NMS region; and an extensive geodatabase of all spatial, temporal, derived, and primary datasets acquired, assimilated, and analyzed to conduct the characterization. The data gathered, analyses performed, and patterns of distribution modeled and observed provide essential information needed to support future monitoring and scientific studies, the development of educational material, and support of other spatially-explicit management decisions.

These products would not have been completed without the extensive collaboration, review, and support provided by many individuals and institutions. If you have questions or comments regarding the SBNMS study, please contact Tim Battista (NCCOS) at 301-713-3028 x171 (). For more information on the Biogeography Branch, please contact Mark Monaco at 201-713-3028 x160 ().