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Research Technical Report

A Biogeographic Assessment off North/Central California: To Support the Joint Management Plan Review for Cordell Bank, Gulf of Farallones, and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries: Phase 1 - Marine Fishes, Birds and Mammals

NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)

Prepared by NCCOS's Biogeography Team in Cooperation with the National Marine Sanctuary Program. Silver Spring, MD 145pp.


In the spring of 2001, NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) and National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), in consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), launched a 24-month effort to define and assess biogeographic patterns of selected marine species found within and adjacent to the boundaries of three west coast National Marine Sanctuaries. These sanctuaries, Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones, and Cordell Bank are conducting a joint review process to update sanctuary management plans. The management plans for these sanctuaries have not been updated for over ten years and the status of the natural resources and their management issues in and around the sanctuaries may have changed. In addition, significant accomplishments in research and resource assessments have been made within the region. Thus, it is important to incorporate new and expanding knowledge into the revised management plans for these Sanctuaries. As part of the review process, the NMSP requires an integrated biogeographic assessment of the spatial and temporal distributions of marine resources off north/central California. The NMSP headquarters and sanctuary field personnel have partnered with NCCOS's Biogeography Team to conduct this assessment. The biogeographic assessment includes the identification and characterization of important biological areas and time periods off the coast and addresses existing and emerging issues concerning management of biotic resources in the area. Results of this assessment aid the NMSP in addressing issues, such as potential modification of sanctuary boundaries and changes in management approaches based on the principles of biogeography. The publication of this document completes Phase I of the biogeographic assessment for the North/Central California National Marine Sanctuaries. The assessment and additional ecosystem characterization of habitats and species (e.g., estuaries) will continue over the next few years. The initial plans for Phase II are discussed in Section 6 of this document. The Phase I assessment is based on biogeographic patterns of fishes, macroinvertebrates, marine mammals, and marine birds and the distribution of their habitats. The study did not attempt to define biogeographic patterns along the entire US west coast nor in very near shore environments (e.g, estuaries). Rather, the study area was restricted to the marine area from Point Arena (in the north) to Point Sal, California (in the south). The Assessment was based on a synthesis of data provided by project partners (e.g., NMFS fishery independent surveys). The biogeographic assessment was formulated around three integrated study components: 1) an Ecological Linkages Report, 2) biogeographic analyses, and 3) development of spatial data for incorporation into NMSP's Marine Information System (MarIS). GIS-based data and additional information, such as the complete Ecological Linkages Report, can be found on this CD-ROM/web site. To enable development and integration of these components and to support project management, the overall process used to conduct the biogeographic assessment is shown in Figure 1.


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Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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