Geographical and biogeographical information

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Geographical information

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have become indispensable tools in managing and displaying marine biodiversity data. MarBEF has developed a standardised register of place names, called the European Marine Gazetteer. The ultimate goal is to create a hierarchical standard list that includes all the marine geographical names within Europe and subsequently worldwide. Presently, the Gazetteer includes the names of 983 European locations, seas, islands, sandbanks, ridges, estuaries, bays, seamount chains and submarine lava tubes. The Gazetteer is hierarchical and thus recognises that, for example, when a species is reported from a bay in Italy, that bay is part of Italy, the Adriatic Sea, the Mediterranean and Europe. Therefore, users can search for all datasets holding data on a specific area and subsequently find the species occurring in that area, or the people and institutes that are involved in research in that region. Other geographical regions in the Gazetteer include the major oceans and seas, Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), Large Marine Ecosystems, FAO Fishing Areas and Longhurst Biogeographical Provinces.[1]

Biogeographical information

MarBEF established the European node of the international Ocean Biogeographic Information System, namely EurOBIS. EurOBIS is a freely accessible online atlas providing species distribution records from 174 datasets. EurOBIS is the largest data provider to the international OBIS. It contains 5.2 million species distribution records from 210,832 localities and 32,225 taxa in European marine waters. By combining areas defined in the Gazetteer and the species distribution data in EurOBIS, national or regional species checklists can easily be created.[1]

Overview of the species coverage in EurOBIS. On a fine scale (1x1 degree) our knowledge of the diversity of life is still very sketchy (or even non-existent: see grey areas on map).