Ecosystems and Oceanography Division

Location of a gold coral colony is marked with a numbered flowerpot to enable re-measurement of the colony on subsequent visits by a submersible.

The Ecosystems and Oceanography Division (EOD) conducts research to advance our understanding of the structure and dynamics of Pacific basin marine ecosystems. In particular, EOD seeks to understand how marine populations change directly in response to changes in their predators and prey and indirectly as a result of broader habitat-based changes in the ocean climate, including El Niño, La Niña, and other interannual or decadal events.

EOD research covers topics on many different spatial scales ranging from fine-scale habitat characterization to basin-scale oceanography, and various temporal scales from short-term individual foraging behavior to long-term ecosystem changes and population trends. Accordingly, a variety of approaches are necessary, including collaborations with scientists in other PIFSC divisions, other government agencies, academic departments, industry, nongovernmental organizations, and foreign institutions.

The EOD has three major research themes:

Ecosystems and Oceanography Division FY 2008

Key 2008 Accomplishments

Challenges, Problems, and Limitations

Noise contamination in the acoustic data collected by the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette continues to be a problem for research surveys of tunas and their forage. Due to funding limitations at the Pacific Marine Center (NOAA), the problem has yet to be resolved. Storage and handling of the massive data sets produced by passive and active acoustic recorders, satellite-borne sensors, and coupled physical-biological ocean models remain significant challenges.

Future Focus and Direction

In collaboration with the Protected Species Division , EOD is continuing to deploy passive acoustic recorders on the seafloor to collect information on the occurrence of cetaceans at various locations in the central North Pacific. The Division also plans to expand studies to describe climate-induced changes in the subtropical gyre marine ecosystem using remotely sensed oceanographic data, fishery statistics, observer data, and ecosystem models.