Global Ocean Observing System - Biology & Ecosystems Panel
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The ocean is changing in response to our increasing use.  As changes occur, life within the ocean is being affected, with potential consequences for the valuable services it provides from food to the oxygen we breathe.

We need continuous, long-term observations to know if, and how, ocean life is responding to human use.  These long-term observations will contribute to effectively mitigate or manage adverse changes, help predict potential future changes and plan accordingly. Relevant changes in marine biodiversity, ecosystem function, and the services they provide can be detected by monitoring some of their essential variables. 

The Panel has proposed nine biological essential ocean variables (EOVs) based on:

  1. Their relevance in helping to solve science questions and addressing societal needs
  2. Their contribution to improving management of marine resources
  3. Their feasibility for global measurement in terms of cost, available technology, and human capabilities


Phytoplankton biomass and diversity Live coral
Zooplankton biomass and diversity Seagrass cover
Fish abundance and distribution Macroalgal canopy
Marine turtles, birds, mammals abundance and distribution Mangrove cover


GOOS BioEco is composed of Biology and Ecosystem experts from across the globe who provide guidance to the GOOS network regarding EOV identification, implementation (e.g. observations and technology), and best practices. Through this international collaboration and coordination, the BioEco Panel aims to provide a better, clearer understanding of ocean ecosystems through a sustained and targeted global observation system to support the requirements of the global community. 

Action Plan


  • Identify the societal drivers and pressures that can be addressed by sustained, long-term observations of biological variables in the ocean
  • Assess the effectiveness of the current state of ocean observations, both temporal and spatial
  • Facilitate regional and global integration of existing biological observing networks to increase their value and reach
  • Develop new, global biological observing networks as necessary to support sustained measurement of biological essential ocean variables
  • Improve the communication of results from sustained monitoring of biological variables, thus increasing their contribution to decision making at local, national, and global scales

The Products

  • A global biological and ecosystem observation network that provides more timely, consistent and informed scientific advice on the status of, and threats to, critical marine resources.
  • A fit-for-purpose system that encourages best practices and development of technology to improve sampling strategies.  
  • A collaborative international approach that strengthens data sharing and interoperability, enhances capacity building, facilitates technology transfer, and increases future management options at all levels of government.


Find the 2015-2019 Timeline of targets and activities here.