|Gulf of Mexico Biodiversity Mapping Application, Houston Advanced Research Center |
HARC partnered with The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies to produce a Gulf-wide interactive mapping application displaying information on benthos, plankton and other marine life groups. Using data gathered by 140 expert taxonomists from 80 institutions in 15 countries and published as Gulf of Mexico Origin, Waters, and Biota: Volume 1, Biodiversity, Texas A&M University Press 2009, HARC produced an interactive mapping application displaying distribution for a variety of orders, classes and phyla in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Gulf of Mexico Biodiversity mapping application and portal are not representative of all species in the Gulf; rather, these are discussions of species listed in the book that have corresponding occurrence data. Diatoms and dinoflagellates are discussed on the portal due to their relative importance in the food web but are not represented in the mapping application at this time due to lack of data. Many more orders, classes and phyla are represented in the book discussion.
For purposes of the Gulf-wide biodiversity database, the Gulf of Mexico range is divided into four quadrants. These are derived by the intersection of a vertical line placed precisely on the 90th meridian with a horizontal line placed precisely on the 25th parallel, thus producing NW, NE, SE, and SW quadrants. Any combination of these may be used to indicate the distribution between quadrants of the Gulf of Mexico, and the word entire can be used if the distribution encompasses all four quadrants. This scheme is refined to an additional level which divides each quadrant into two octants by 45 degree subdivision of the quadrant, originated from a line at the center of the Gulf of Mexico but expressed only in coastal and continental shelf areas of the quadrant (records from outer oceanic waters assumed to be adequately defined by the less refined 4-quadrant system). This yields eight coastal and shelf subdivisions as follow: wnw, nnw, nne, ene, ese, sse, ssw, and wsw. HARC developed the mapping application using areas developed from these quadrants.The mapping application allows users to search for species information by depth and by Gulf of Mexico geographic range.