Humans depend on diverse ocean ecosystems for food, jobs, and sustained well-being, yet many stressors threaten marine life. Extensive research has demonstrated that maintaining biodiversity promotes ocean health and service provision; therefore, monitoring the status and trends of marine biodiversity is important for effective ecosystem management. However, there is no systematic sustained program for evaluating ocean biodiversity. Coordinating existing monitoring and building a proactive marine biodiversity observation network will support efficient, economical resource management and conservation and should be a high priority. A synthesis of expert opinions suggests that, to be most effective, a marine biodiversity observation network should integrate biological levels, from genes to habitats; link biodiversity observations to abiotic environmental variables; site projects to incorporate environmental forcing and biogeography; and monitor adaptively to address emerging issues. We summarize examples illustrating how to leverage existing data and infrastructure to meet these goals.
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Vol. 63 • No. 5