National Marine Sanctuaries as MBON Demonstration Sites

This MBON project is being developed in collaboration with the Florida Keys and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries and state agencies.

Across all National Marine Sanctuaries, about $8 billion annually is generated in local coastal and ocean dependent economies from diverse activities like commercial fishing, research and tourism/recreation activities.

The Sanctuaries conduct and/or support monitoring programs tailored to the information needs of each sanctuary, local partners and constituents. These programs target a wide array of topics involving natural processes and human influences on water, habitat, and living resources.  The monitoring and research efforts enhance our understanding of natural resources, and how they are changing.

Each Sanctuary has an extensive list of biological data sets collected by agencies and non-governmental organizations over decades.

In addition to traditional biological water column sampling (e.g. chlorophyll-a, primary productivity, phytoplankton and zooplankton counts) in key sites, the U.S. MBON projects are conducting environmental DNA sampling programs and developing new methods. The eDNA methods and ongoing observations to evaluate habitat diversity and diversity across trophic levels, and help detect invasive species, will improve our understanding of overall ecosystem health.

Multidisciplinary remote sensing will be used to create dynamic ‘seascapes’ to extend the spatial footprint of the in situ data and predict changes in biodiversity under various climate change scenarios. These time series of biodiversity and environmental observations will help construct conceptual and forecast models of the inter-relations between human dimensions, climate and environmental variability, and ecosystem structure at multiple trophic levels.


  1. Integrate and synthesize information from ongoing monitoring programs coordinated by the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS)

  2. Define the minimum set of observations required for implementing a practical, useful MBON

  3. Develop technology for biodiversity assessments through emerging environmental DNA (eDNA) molecular methods and autonomous sample collection

  4. Integrate biodiversity measurements in a relational database that links to national and international biodiversity databases and that informs NOAA’s emergency response system

  5. Establish a protocol for MBON information to dynamically update Sanctuary status and trends reports

  6. Understand the linkages between marine biodiversity and the social-economic context of a region.