By: Jay Krithivas, Hannah Appiah-Madson, and Dan Distel
The ocean is home to a staggering amount of biodiversity. Among the 33 currently accepted branches on the tree of animal life, 15 are entirely marine, while only one is exclusively terrestrial. Currently, human activity threatens the existence of many of these species.
Despite countless efforts underway to mitigate the effects of warming ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms, and other adverse environmental pressures, 75–90% of the ocean’s estimated 1–2 million species are still unknown to science. Unfortunately, it is impossible to protect what is undiscovered.
To combat this issue, the Ocean Genome Legacy Center (OGL) co-authored a new Frontiers in Marine Science publication with our Ocean Census partners. Ocean Census is a global alliance that aims to accelerate the discovery and protection of ocean life. With international collaborators, OGL helped formulate Ocean Census’s strategy for increasing the discovery rate of new marine species in the coming decade.
The paper calls for modernizing the sometimes archaic and laborious taxonomic identification process by incorporating next-generation DNA sequencing, 3D imaging, and machine learning. This new cyber taxonomy strategy coordinates and streamlines taxonomic efforts by integrating data into shared, accessible online databases.
The paper’s authors also highlight the need to direct resources to the chronically underfunded field of taxonomy, articulate plans for dedicated species discovery expeditions, and describe the Ocean Census Global Marine Biodiversity Network—a group of pre-existing institutions engaging in cyber taxonomy and freely sharing data, resources, training, and specimens.
The Ocean Census program, as described in a new Frontiers in Marine Science paper, envisions a network of biodiversity centers and virtual taxonomy networks enabling biodiversity researchers, taxonomists, and conservation advocates to cooperate and coordinate their activities globally (Rogers et al., 2023).
As a founding member of Ocean Census, OGL is thrilled to partner with organizations whose missions are synchronous with our values to catalog, preserve, and protect our ocean’s biodiversity.
Are you interested in advancing vital collaborations in revolutionary ocean science? If so, please consider supporting OGL.