Integrating ocean observations across body-size classes to deliver benthic invertebrate abundance and distribution information

Invertebrate animals living on the seafloor make up a prominent component of life globally, spanning 10 orders of magnitude in body size over 71% of Earth’s surface. However, integrating information across sizes and sampling methodologies has limited our understanding of the influence of natural variation, climate change and human activity. In a recent study, Ruhl et al. outlined maturing practices that can underpin both the feasibility and impact of establishing Benthic Invertebrate Abundance and Distribution as a Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) – Essential Ocean Variable (EOV), including: (1) quantifying individual body size, (2) identifying the well-quantified portions of sampled body-size spectra, (3) taking advantage of (semi-)automated information processing, (4) application of metadata standards such as Darwin Core, and (5) making data available through internationally recognised access points. The researchers deem these practices will enable broader-scale analysis supporting research and sustainable development such as in the assessments of indicator taxa, biodiversity, biomass and the modeling of carbon stocks and flows that are contiguous over time and space.

Ruhl, H. A., Bett, B. J., Ingels, J., Martin, A., Gates, A. R., Yool, A., Benoist, N. M., Appeltans, W., Howell, K. L., and Danovaro, R. (2023). Integrating ocean observations across body‐size classes to deliver benthic invertebrate abundance and distribution information. Limnology and Oceanography Letters. DOI: