NOAA National Benthic Inventory

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About The NBI

photo NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) conduct a wide variety of coastal environmental monitoring and research studies that generate invaluable taxonomic reference materials and corresponding data sets on the biodiversity and abundances of marine benthic species. The goal of the National Benthic Inventory (NBI) is to capture this information and make it available as a readily accessible resource to support the needs of other related programs dealing with important coastal management, research, and educational initiatives.

The NBI consists of a dynamic quantitative database on benthic species distributions and a corresponding taxonomic voucher collection of preserved benthic specimens obtained from studies conducted by NOAA and partnering institutions in estuarine and other coastal-ocean areas around the country.

The quantitative database provides information on benthic species abundances by species and location, thus providing a basis for addressing important coastal and marine spatial planning management and research questions, such as "what are the incidence and patterns of occurrence of a particular species of interest," or "what are the overall composition and diversity of species assemblages within any particular region of interest.”

The NBI is also a data source for the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), a web-based provider of world-wide geo-referenced data on marine species. OBIS includes information on all types of marine species (plants, algae, protozoans, invertebrates, and vertebrates) from various parts of the world. The OBIS link provides an opportunity for the NBI, in serving as a source of biological observations, to become an integral component of a larger integrative ocean observing system with access to a broad range of species and geographic regions. Users of OBIS include scientists, marine resource managers and policy makers, educators, students, and the public.

The companion taxonomic reference collection consists of representative specimens from studies contained in the NBI catalogued by species, geographic region, and investigation. The identified specimens comprising the collection are used routinely as a research tool for processing new benthic samples and for continuous verification of species identifications in various coastal assessment studies. The collection also serves as a source of material to capture in digitized photographs for publications, educational outreach, species calibrations and other collaborative interactions with related programs involving marine benthic taxonomy. Specimens from the collection are available for loan to research and educational institutions for the use of the resident research staff.

Both the NBI and the reference collection are maintained by the Coastal Ecology Program in the Protected Areas and Resources Branch at NCCOS's Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research (CCEHBR) in Charleston, SC.