Recent activity

Understanding our Changing Oceans through SDMs and Habitat Models based on Remotely Sensed Data

Patrick O'Hara, June 16, 2016

The 25th anniversary of PICES is in San Diego, CA from Nov. 1 - 14. I am co-convening a session entitled "Understanding our Changing Oceans through Species Distributions and Habitat Models based on Remotely Sensed Data" with ecologists, oceanographers, and social scientists. Dr. Rob Suryan (Oregan State University) is our invited speaker.

You can submit an abstract here if interested, the due date is June 20th but will likely be extended to July 1st - [PICES abstract submission] (

The session description is below:

Determining marine animal distributions directly through at-sea observations or tracking is costly and logistically challenging. Moreover, even with limitless time and resources, information is limited because many species disperse over long distances including trans-hemispheric migrants. Species Distribution Models (SDMs) provide a tool to estimate present distributions and to project into the future (assuming species-environment relationships remain strong), but these models require substantial environmental data to accurately predict distribution and change. Increasingly, SDM approaches rely on remotely-sensed satellite data as indices of environmental conditions, particularly as proxies for primary and possibly secondary productivity. Satellite datasets are inexpensive to use, widely served, well-documented (i.e., scientifically defensible), and globally synoptic, allowing for easy spatio-temporal comparisons. However, satellite-borne sensors measure characteristics of the ocean at the surface while marine organisms respond to spatial and temporal features of the ocean at depth, which may require more complex approaches. In this session, we will investigate the opportunities and challenges of using satellite-based habitat models and ways we can advance SDMs for a better understanding our changing oceans and for improving management. In particular, we solicit papers exploring the benefits and tradeoffs of using satellite-borne data to detect mechanisms of distributional and range shifts.