Distributed Biological Observatory Collaboration Team

Studying biological responses to rapid physical changes in the Arctic marine ecosystem

Scope of Activities

CTD at dusk

Photo by Andrea Skloss (PolarTREC 2013), Courtesy of ARCUS

The overarching goal of the Distributed Biological Observatory (DBO) Collaboration Team (CT) is full-implementation of standardized ocean sampling in five regions of high productivity and biodiversity that extend from the northern Bering Sea, to the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas (http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/dbo/). A pilot DBO program, initiated in 2010 and focused on two of the five regions, has demonstrated the utility of the DBO sampling protocol, with annual review of data facilitated through the international Pacific Arctic Group (http://pag.arcticportal.org/). Through development of a broad scale ocean observatory, the DBO CT aims to provide a long-term biologically-focused science foundation to improve the ability of resource management agencies (e.g., BOEM and NOAA) to determine the effects of their actions on marine resources. Ultimately, this will result in improved conservation, protection, and management of Arctic coastal and ocean resources.


This team has no leaders

Deliverables from the Arctic Research Plan


USCGC Healy icebreaker

Photo by Bill Schmoker (PolarTREC 2010), Courtesy of ARCUS

A major accomplishment in 2016 was the completion of a decadal DBO Implementation Plan. The Plan focuses on the period 2015-2024 and provides a framework for the preparation of Periodic Assessments of the State of Pacific Arctic Marine Environment (PARMA), at 3-year intervals starting in 2018. The PARMA will be based upon analyses and modeling using DBO-generated data and data from projects supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, Bureau of Oceanic Energy Management, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, North Pacific Research Board and other sources.

Regionally, the DBO Implementation Plan identifies specific strategies to foster connections with existing community-based observation programs in an effort to link offshore observations of biological change to local observations and indigenous knowledge. Internationally, linkages to pan-Arctic DBO-type sampling programs will be fostered, including transects identified by the Arctic Council Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna/Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program and the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME)/Implementation of Ecosystem Approach (EA) to Management Program.  

The completion of the DBO Implementation Plan was the last DBO CT milestone in the 2013-2017 IARPC Plan and was publicly vetted at the 3rd DBO Data Workshop, the 2016 Arctic Observing Summit, and the PAME EA International Conference, as well as at various other national and international venues. Other significant achievements include the completion of year-7 of sampling in DBO/Chukchi regions 1-5, and opportunistic sampling in DBO/Beaufort regions 6-8. Field-sampling was contributed by colleagues from 11 projects representing 5 countries.  

The DBO continues to benefit from organizational support from the international Pacific Arctic Group, including integrated collaborations with the Pacific Arctic Climate Ecosystem Observatory. These achievements in international cooperation lay the groundwork for a truly pan-arctic biological observatory, as envisioned at the PAME EA International Conference. 

Priorities for 2017

The DBO CT will focus efforts over the next five years on Performance Element 4.3.1, 4.3.2, 4.3.3 in IARPC Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021, which contribute to the objectives of Research Goal 4 (Marine Ecosystems). We anticipate a DBO-core group will continue as a sub-unit of the Marine Ecosystem (Goal 4) Team to retain team integrity and to focus on the long-term goals as agreed in the decadal DBO Implementation Plan. Work towards establishing linkages between the DBO and community based modeling will be continued, including partnership with the nascent University of Alaska Fairbanks Arctic Observatory & Knowledge Hub community observing program. Internationally, the DBO will contribute to the development of a pan-Arctic Ocean Observing Network, including participation on the Norwegian Strategic Initiative-Arctic where the Institute of Marine Research is adding shelf-basin transect lines to track northward migration of commercial fish species.

Key Documents

Distributed Biological Observatory 10-year Implementation Plan