Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 13 Issue 03

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Volume 13, No. 3
Pages 56 - 59

The Synthesis of Dynamic and Historical Data on Marine Populations and Communities: Putting Dynamics Into the Ocean Biogeographical Information System (OBIS)

Ransom A. Myers
First Paragraph

The understanding of marine ecosystems requires long-term historical data. Unfortunately, population dynamics data of marine species are much like Hobbes’ view of the life of primitive humans: nasty, brutish, and short. The data are nasty because the estimation error is often large and there are frequently gross errors in the recording or transcription of the data. The data are brutish as they are often unstandardized, in unpublished government reports, not in a computer readable format, and organized in ways that make them difficult, if not impossible, to comprehend. The data are short, as the collection of population dynamics data for marine species usually involves a tremendous investment of time and resources. And yet, to answer many of the critical questions in the conservation, optimal management, and understanding of marine ecosystems requires the synthesis of historical and dynamic data from diverse sources and species. As an example, without the analysis of a very large data set, we would not have known that a large distinctive marine fish had been lost from much of its range (Casey and Myers, 1998).


Myers, R.A. 2000. The synthesis of dynamic and historical data on marine populations and communities: Putting dynamics into the Ocean Biogeographical Information System (OBIS). Oceanography 13(3):56–59, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2000.10.