National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science Biogeographic Assessments

Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Regional,National,Set of sites,Single site
Country or countries covered United States
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

With the ongoing implementation of marine spatial planning efforts and evolution of MPAs in the US, a suite of biogeographic assessments are underway around the US coast line to locate and evaluate the efficacy of MPAs and to support marine spatial planing efforts.

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

Spatial assessments of the distribution of living marine resources and their environment. These assessments are specifically tailored to meet the needs of the coastal zone management community as they engage in making spatially explicit management decisions impacting these resources and co-occurring human uses. Select products available for the northeast, southwest and the Pacific Islands.

Mandate for the assessment

The assessment support the US National Marine Sanctuaries Act and several executive orders including the US National Ocean Plan and US Coral Reef Conservation Act.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Other (please specify)

Biogeographic Assessments

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted


System(s) assessed

  • Marine
  • Coastal
  • Island

Species groups assessed

Marine organisms

Ecosystem services/functions assessed



  • Biodiversity

Supporting Services/Functions

  • Habitat maintenance

Cultural Services

  • Recreation and tourism

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started

Pre 2000

Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish


Periodicity of assessment

One off

Assessment outputs


Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Modelling
  • Trade-off analysis
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators
  • Scenarios

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

Key stakeholder groups engaged

Conduct initial planning with stakeholders in determining the assessment objectives and also use of US National Marine Sanctuary Program Advisory Councils.

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process


Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Scientific information only
  • Resource experts (e.g. foresters etc)
  • Traditional/local knowledge

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Yes with respect to training and data gaps.

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Network and sharing experiences, Access to funding, Sharing of data/repatriation of data, Workshops, Developing/promoting and providing access to support tools, Formal training

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

By meetings an access to products

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment


How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Additional relevant information