The Distributed Biological Observatory: Linking Physics to Biology in the Pacific Arctic Region + Supplementary File (See Article Tools)




Pacific Arctic, ocean observatory, marine ecosystems, international collaboration


In response to dramatic seasonal sea ice loss and other physical changes influencing biological communities, a Distributed Biological Observatory (DBO) was proposed in 2009 as a “change detection array” to measure biological responses to physical variability along a latitudinal gradient extending from the northern Bering Sea to the Beaufort Sea in the Pacific Arctic sector. In 2010, the Pacific Arctic Group (PAG) initiated a pilot program, focused on developing standardized sampling protocols in five regions of high productivity, biodiversity, and rates of change. In 2012, an academic team received funding to sample all five DBO regions, with collateral support from the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) DBO Collaboration Team. The IARPC team met monthly from 2012 to 2016 and advanced the DBO from a pilot phase to an implementation phase, including 1) the addition of three new sampling regions in the Beaufort Sea, 2) the goal of linking the observatory to existing community-based observation programs, and 3) the development of a plan for a periodic Pacific Arctic Regional Marine Assessment (PARMA) beginning in 2018. The long-term future of the DBO will depend on active involvement of international and national partners focused on the common goal of improved pan-Arctic assessments of regional marine ecosystems in an era of rapid change.