The geographic, or spatial extent, over which a species is found to occur, is its distribution. Understanding how species are distributed in space and time and the factors that drive spatial patterns in distribution and abundance are central questions in ecology and important for species conservation and management.
A major impact of changing climate and ocean conditions is the large-scale shifts in distributions of many marine species as they attempt to remain within their preferred environmental conditions (e.g., temperature). These shifts in distribution pose a central challenge to fisheries managers as they can and already are affecting commercial and recreational fisheries, and the economies of communities that rely on them.
Given the potential impacts of shifting distributions on sustainable fisheries management, and the cross-jurisdictional nature of the issue, it is crucial that scientists and managers have access to information on historic and projected stock distributions for use in decision-making. NOAA collects extensive information on the distribution of species through surveys, and is increasingly conducting research into the distributions of fish stocks, however access to this information is not consistent across the regions.
The Distribution Mapping and Analysis Portal (DisMAP) consolidates data on species distributions into one user-friendly and interactive website. It provides tools for exploring changes in marine fish and invertebrate distributions through time. Our mission is to:
- Improve ease of access to and exploration of species distribution data
- Support decision-makers to use this spatial data for insight and informing decisions, such as fishing closed areas, marine protected areas, allocations, stock boundaries, survey designs
- Foster sharing and exchange of practices and ideas among scientists working on species distribution modeling.
This effort grew out of and builds off of the OceanAdapt website, a successful collaboration between the Rutgers University (Pinsky Lab), NOAA Fisheries and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The DisMAP will continue to provide information previously provided by OceanAdapt, and expand to incorporate additional data types, model outputs and functionality over time.