Special Projects

Sealife Abundance Project
This was a sub-project of SeaLifeBase through the Sea Around Us. Its primary goal was to compile geographically and temporally ferenced abundance information for native and invasive or introduced aquatic species.

Duration: 2007-2010

Contact person:
Kai M. A. Chan (kaichan@ires.ubc.ca)
Assistant Professor, Tier 2 Canada Research Chair
(Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services)
Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability
AERL Rm 438, 2202 Main Mall
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4
T: +60(4)822 0400; Fax: +60(4)822 9250

CenSeam Project
The goal of this project was to gather occurrence information for species collected in or near seamounts by old expeditions, in particular, the H.M.S. Challenger Expedition, for integration into the SeamountsOnline database. Possible seamounts among the stations sampled by the H.M.S. Challenger were identified from the list of already recorded seamounts in the SeamountsOnline database by a two-step process, i.e., matching of station geographical coordinates (+/- 1 degree square) with those of known seamounts then matching of station depths with the summit depths provided by SeamountsOnline. Accuracy of matching was indicated with a category system, e.g., 80-100% accuracy was assigned to records with matching coordinates (not +/- the 1 degree square buffer) and depth while 0-20% accuracy were assigned if the geographic coordinates of the station fell inside the 1 degree buffer. Data encoding was completed for non-fish marine organisms sampled in possible seamounts by the H.M.S. Challenger.

Duration: July-November 2008

Contact person:
Karen Ingeborg Stocks (kstocks@sdsc.edu)
Assistant Research Scientist, San Diego Supercomputer Center
Lecturer, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
SDSC UCSD, MC 05059500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla
CA 92093-0505 USA
T: +1(858)534 5009; F: +1(858)822 3610

World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Project
Collaboration with the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) was initiated in February 2008 with the main purpose of encoding/digitizing information from references covering taxonomic data which were not yet in electronic format. This initiative was funded by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) with Dr. Edward van den Berghe as our main partner and Dr. Ward Appeltans (ward.appeltans@vliz.be), the WoRMS data manager as our direct contact for the APHIA database. Information for penaeoid and sergestoid prawns, copepods and amphipods were integrated into the APHIA database in 2008 and encoding of squat lobsters was completed in June 2009.

Marine Metazoans of China Project
A list of marine metazoans occurring in coastal and shallow waters of China was assembled from Chinese and English language sources. This contribution briefly reviewed the status of that biodiversity in terms of functional groups (i.e., groups of species with similar functions within the marine ecosystem). This mini-project provided SeaLifeBase with 2,801 valid species and 1,066 Chinese-language common names (2 Cantonese, 1,058 Mandarin and 6 Min Nan). It also helped to assign 2,275 species to China, 230 species to the large marine ecosystem of the Yellow Sea, 1,017 species to the South China Sea, 762 species to the East China Sea and 2,158 species to FAO area 61 (Northwest Pacific). The data were extracted from 578 references covering 270 jellyfishes, 553 echinoderms, 1123 polychaetes, 800 crabs, 300 shrimps, 95 cephalopods, 133 zooplankton, 5 sea turtles, 36 cetaceans, and 62 seabirds.

A paper by Huang, B., W. Cheung, V.W.Y. Lam, M.L. Palomares, P. Sorongon and D. Pauly. (manuscript) entitled “Toward an account of the biodiversity of chinese coastal and shelf waters: the roles of SeaLifeBase, FishBase and other online databases” was presented at the FishBase Symposium, Innovation Building, YSFRI, Qingdao, China, September 1, 2008. Although this list is incomplete and biased towards commercially important and well-studied species, it serves to illustrate what could be the minimum database each country can create and/or maintain to document its marine biodiversity.

Maria Lourdes D. Palomares (m.palomares@fisheries.ubc.ca)  
Daniel Pauly (d.pauly@fisheries.ubc.ca)  
Patricia M.E. Sorongon-Yap (p.sorongon@fin.ph) 
Note: First author Bonnie Huang, who gathered data from Chinese literature on marine non-fish organisms, and 4th author William Cheung, who analyzed the ecosystem models of the South China Sea for this mini-project, are no longer with the Fisheries Centre.

Aquamaps Project
The SeaLifeBase Team with the help of four student assistants prioritized the completion of primary information (FAO area distribution, depth ranges and bounding boxes) needed for the generation of AquaMaps as well as pictures of these species. Occurrence points gathered from OBIS and the Catalogue of Life (CoL) Annual Checklist 2008 were used as a pre-processing procedure run by the FishBase IT Team. As a result of this effort, a total of 1,234 species qualified for the generation of AquaMaps. Since March 2009, SeaLifeBase displays 1,350 species (including marine mammals) with AquaMaps. Of these, 647 have pictures and 237 species without pictures have direct links to Google images. There are 356 AquaMaps species that are not yet searchable through the website (www.aquamaps.org), these are the species with assigned temporary IDs. However, all these species are searchable in the SeaLifeBase website where the map displayed is clickable and is directly linked to Aquamaps.org. The next step now would be to review the generated maps. This is called the expert-review process which is an integral part of the AquaMaps approach and has been implemented to allow experts to modify envelope settings and maximum range extents to reduce the effects of biases and discrepancies caused by non-representative survey coverage and species misidentifications.