United Nations
Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON)
by Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) of the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) (Partnership)
The Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) MBON is a community of practice that strengthens understanding of marine biodiversity and coordinates monitoring of associated changes over time through scientific observations, thereby facilitating ecosystem conservation, sustainability, and good management practices. MBON is linking existing national and international research and monitoring efforts. It provides the marine biodiversity component of GEO (through GEO BON). MBON will work with the international community to promote the operational collection of biodiversity observations. Working with the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and other field sampling programmes ensures that biodiversity observations are complemented with physical and biogeochemical observations of the ocean and vice-versa. A partnership with the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) and similar databases helps to provide access to regional and global biodiversity and environmental data to enable regional assessments. MBON is the biodiversity arm of Blue Planet, intended to inform decisions relevant to conservation and the sustainable use of marine resources.

MBON is a network rather than a legally-incorporated structure or organization. As a community of practice and collaboration, groups can engage in relatively informal or formal agreements. MBON is a coalition of the willing who agree to share knowledge and know-how to evaluate changes of biodiversity in the ocean, including data, products, protocols and methods, data systems and software.

MBON will follow guidelines of the Framework for Ocean Observing (FOO), working with GOOS to develop a common framework for biodiversity and biological EOVs. The GOOS Bio-Eco panel has identified EOVs for ocean biology based on a Drivers-Pressures-State-Impact-Response process that include the societal and scientific requirements of national programs, international treaties, and the scientific community. MBON facilitates the development of a common framework for EBV and EOV, informing GOOS on the integration of marine biodiversity observations within environmental variables.

Working within this framework facilitates adoption of the biodiversity EOVs in existing international ocean observing systems and regional alliances that constitute GOOS. In developing the network, MBON also recognizes the important linkages between coastal habitats and the deep ocean as an environmental continuum within which many different species live, migrate, and reproduce. Therefore, the MBON network will link communities, including for example the GEO-Wetlands initiative, with the marine community.

MBON is developing the capacity of resource managers, practitioners, and decision-managers to use information about marine biodiversity to address specific targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), such as SDG 14. MBON products integrate multidisciplinary research and observations from groups around the world through a data aggregation device designed by MBON. The product demonstrates a capability to:

1. Determine what spatial scales and biodiversity elements are observable using in situ and remote sensing Earth observations.
2. Measure Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBV) in the context of Essential Ocean Variables (EOV) that characterize physical processes (temperature, salinity, currents), biogeochemical processes (carbon dioxide, oxygen, nutrients, carbon), and biological processes (biomass, productivity, extent).
3. Characterize the relationship between the environment and biodiversity.

These partnerships help in defining strategies and standards for collaboration with a broader community of databases and users of biodiversity information.
Progress reports
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Type of commitment
  • Community or Locally Managed Marine Areas
  • Integrated Coastal Management
  • Marine Spatial Planning
  • Large Marine Ecosystem approach
  • Ecosystem-based Adaptation
  • Other (please specify): Assessment of baselines and change in marine biodiversity
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Scientific, socioeconomic and interdisciplinary research
  • Research capacity development
  • Data access and sharing
  • Training and professional development
  • Scientific cooperation
  • Transfer marine technology
  • Actions that support SIDS and LDCs
October 2017
SDG 14.2 and SDG 14.a: Prototype tool to facilitate evaluation of satellite-derived sea surface temperature, chlorophyll concentration, and other synoptic variables with local and global (OBIS) biodiversity observations
October 2018
SDG 14.2 and SDG 14.a: More mature tool to facilitate evaluation of satellite-derived sea surface temperature, chlorophyll concentration, and other synoptic variables with local and global (OBIS) biodiversity observations
Other, please specify
Contributions through funded projects
In-kind contribution
Time, data contributions from MBON partner members
In-kind contribution
Time, internet resources (website, listservers) by GEO BON
Basic information
Time-frame: May 2017 - December 2019
Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) GEO Blue Planet Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS/IOC-UNESCO) Ocean Biodiversity Observation System (OBIS/IOC-UNECO) U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) University of Auckland, New Zealand University of Porto, Portugal U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Esri WCMC, Cambridge, UK CORDIO East Africa, Kenya Smithsonian Institution, USA University of Southampton, UK University of South Florida, USA Northeastern University, USA University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of China) Xiamen University, China MBARI, Monterrey, CA, USA Sir Alistar Hardy Foundation of Ocean Sciences (SAHFOS), Plymouth, UK Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)
Ocean Basins
  • Global
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Science / academia Operational living marine resources agencies IPBES, CBD
Contact information
Frank Muller-Karger, Professor, GEO BON MBON Co-chair, carib@usf.edu, +1-727-776-3759
Other SDGs
United Nations