Scientific project

Bio-ORACLE, data layers for distribution modelling

Bio-ORACLE is a project aimed to provide high-resolution geophysical, biotic and environmental data for distribution modelling.

Bio-ORACLE is a project aiming to provide geophysical, biotic and environmental data for surface and benthic marine realms. The data is generated for global-scale applications, at a spatial resolution of 5 arcmin (approximately 9.2 km at the equator). The most recent climate scenarios are provided in order to model the ecological implications of future changes.

The main solution

Linking biodiversity occurrence data to the physical and biotic environment provides a framework to formulate hypotheses about the ecological processes governing spatial and temporal patterns in biodiversity, which can be useful for marine ecosystem management and conservation.

Bio-ORACLE offers a user-friendly solution to accomplish this task by providing 19 global geophysical, biotic and climate layers at a common spatial resolution (5 arcmin) and a uniform landmask.

Data can be downloaded at www.bio-oracle.org either as ascii or tiff raster files using the interactive download page or the sdmpredictors package in R.



Rationale

The availability of user-friendly, high-resolution global environmental datasets is crucial for bioclimatic modelling. For terrestrial environments, WorldClim has served this purpose since 2005, but equivalent marine data only became available in 2012, with pioneer initiatives like Bio-ORACLE providing data layers for several ecologically relevant variables. Currently, the available marine data packages have not yet been updated to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predictions nor to present times, and are mostly restricted to the top surface layer of the oceans, precluding the modelling of a large fraction of the benthic diversity that inhabits deeper habitats. To address this gap, Bio-ORACLE provides data for future climate scenarios, present-day conditions and benthic layers (near sea bottom). The project also provides a package of functions in the R software environment (sdmpredictors) to facilitate listing, extraction and management of data layers and allow easy integration with the available pipelines for bioclimatic modelling.

Main types of variable contained: Surface and benthic layers for water temperature, salinity, nutrients, chlorophyll, sea ice, current velocity, phytoplankton, primary productivity, iron and light at bottom.

Spatial location and grain: Global at 5 arcmin (c. 0.08° or 9.2 km at the equator). Time period and grain: Present (2000–2014) and future (2040–2050 and 2090–2100) environmental conditions based on monthly averages. Major taxa and level of measurement: Marine biodiversity associated with sea surface and epibenthic habitats.

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Jorge Assis [PhD, Research Assistant]
Centre of Marine Sciences, University of Algarve [Faro, Portugal]
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