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The Biology and Ecosystems Panel of GOOS (GOOS Bio-Eco) was established with the goal of developing and coordinating efforts in the implementation of a global ocean observation system to include essential biological and ecosystem variables. This panel will work cooperatively and across disciplines with the physics and climate panel, a successful model set in place more than two decades ago, and the recently established biogeochemistry panel. Together, they will contribute to enhance global ocean observations and achieve critical policy development and management decisions on ocean and coastal resource sustainability and health.

The panel members are listed HERE.


A global sustained and targeted monitoring of the ocean based on biological and ecosystem essential ocean variables serving relevant scientific and societal needs.


By OceanObs’19, identify at least one (set of) GOOS variable providing a change indicator, globally coordinated with a clear pathway to global coverage, including open access data, and reporting to support international reporting needs (including SDGs, CBD reporting needs, a future World Ocean Assessment, etc.) – i.e. a mature GOOS programme. A further 3 (sets of) GOOS variables have been identified as pilot eEOVs with a clear pathway to progress them to mature variables.

Action plan
  • Identify major international, scientific and societal requirements for sustained ocean biological and ecosystem observations
  • Review existing long-term observing initiatives and their time-series datasets (DPSIR analysis see below) and identify gaps
  • Develop with the community, consensus requirements leading to the identification of biological and ecosystem Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs)
  • Promote the identified EOVs and support the expansion of successful observing systems, measuring these EOVs, to become global and sustainable (mature) within the GOOS framework
  • Coordinate observing networks and promote the development of a global data management system supporting the delivery of GOOS products

The GOOS BEP is in the process of defining the major societal challenges and scientific questions that will require sustained global observations of ocean biological and ecosystem variables to realize a healthy ocean for prosperity and sustainability. This will be done while considering the requirements and impacts of human activities on three key ecosystem attributes: productivity, biodiversity, and services.

Essential Ocean Variables – the biological and ecosystem approach

The need for interdisciplinary, internationally integrated ocean observations was a key recommendation of the OceanObs’09 Conference held in Venice from which the Framework for Ocean Observing (FOO) was developed in 2012. The Framework proposes a simple model with 3 basic components: an input in the form of requirements focused on scientific and societal issues, a process in the form of observing networks using Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) as the common focus, and an output in the form of data and products that will benefit both science and society (the source of the requirements).

A key idea in the Framework is the definition of EOVs, some of which have already been determined for climate and weather forecasting, nutrient cycling, and for biodiversity. At present, there is no single model nor any unique set of EOVs that will satisfy the scientific understanding needed to support and monitor management actions, or predict how marine biodiversity and ecosystems will change in the future under increasing anthropogenic pressures. However, there is a need to come to international agreement on a set of variables that can be developed globally to support advanced and advancing countries and international conventions in understanding and managing the marine environment.

Given the indivisible link between society and environment, and to define biologically and or ecologically essential ocean variables, the Biology and Ecosystems Panel is proposing to expand the FOO concept into the DPSIR framework. DPSIR is an approach adopted by the European Environment Agency to identify the information needed to understand and manage human impacts on the environment which provides a high level model that can guide the process to identify EOVs. The DPSIR framework considers the driving forces (D), the pressures (P), the states (S), the impacts (I), and the responses (R).

In the DPSIR model, the need to monitor marine biodiversity and ecosystem health is Driven by societal questions, sectoral trends, and national and international obligations. The process to achieve this includes answering the questions: (1) what are the human Pressures affecting the environment that are or will impact marine biodiversity and ecosystem, (2) what are the existing initiatives that could be built on to measure the S tate of the marine environment, and (3) what are the priority Impacts on the marine environment that need to be monitored and how well do existing initiatives address those needs. The answers to these questions will help society Respond to identified impacts.


Please visit our calendar HERE.

Contact information

Patricia Miloslavich – Project Officer – Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Ward Appeltans – Secretariat – IOC Project Office for IODE, Oostende, Belgium This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Nicholas Bax – Co-Chair – CSIRO, Hobart, Australia This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Samantha Simmons – Co-Chair – Marine Mammal Commission, Bethesda, USA This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The panel members are listed HERE.