Marine Biodiversity Hub

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Chelonia mydas
Chelonia mydas (Linnaeus, 1758) observed in Trinidad and Tobago by edward_rooks (CC BY-NC 4.0)

The Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) is a government-funded marine research institute that conducts research and monitors marine ecosystems in Trinidad & Tobago (T&T) for effective advising on policy interventions and environmental management. IMA has functioned within its capacity to provide information to all stakeholders in the absence of a centralized database to support responsible data management. However, there is a need to improve the efficiency of our data management and distribution capabilities, and avoid data loss and mis-management.

IMA seeks to develop a centralized Marine Biodiversity Hub (MBH) for the purpose of (1) effective dissemination of data on the state of marine ecosystems in T&T to research partners, civil society, decision-makers and the international community, and (2) building capacity for more integrative research collaborations and creating sustainable partnerships through data sharing for research, management and conservation.

All existing data will be standardized and centrally stored for internal and external use with data protection capabilities. Historical records will be digitized to populate the database and link to publications in the IMA library. New protocols will be developed for data management, and researchers will be trained in standardised data collection. Biodiversity information will uploaded GBIF and directly linked to the National Trinidad & Tobago Biodiversity Information System (TTBIS), an online interface for data access by other sectors and the public.

The long-term success of the MBH will be reflected by higher data exchange, more collaborations across research fields, increased publication outputs, citations and successful grant applications. The success of external data sharing will be reflected by a higher number of data downloads by an array of stakeholders, an increase in awareness of our marine ecosystems, the development of policies, legislation and effective decision making on the marine environment.

Project progress

The Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) started the project on 01 June 2021 where several meetings with internal and external stakeholders were held to introduce the project.

Using feedback from the stakeholder meetings, the project began inventory digitization and marine data cataloguing of priority datasets. This included converting the Marine Reference Collection (MRC) and published marine biodiversity data to Darwin-Core standards.

This activity should still be completed by 31 August 2022. Inventory Design activities were initiated based on the survey results of the stakeholders and will be completed once work starts in the MBH construction. Interface structure and branding activities were initiated in February 2022 and are near completion.

Institute of Marine Affairs Species Checklist: This dataset was published to GBIF on 13 May 2022 consisting of biodiversity data derived from six scientific manuscripts produced by Researchers at the Institute of Marine Affairs. The research projects associated with these manuscripts covered a wide array of marine species including, but not limited to: Sponges of Class Demospongiae from Trinidad and Tobago; Octocorals from Trinidad and Tobago; and ahermatypic shallow-water corals of Trinidad. There is also marine biodiversity data derived from ecological surveys done around the reefs of Tobago.

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€ {{ 20608 | localNumber }}
Type of grant
Institution-level biodiversity data mobilization grant
1 July 2021 - 30 June 2023
Project identifier
Funded by
  • Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
  • Ministry of Planning and Development, Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
  • The Cropper Foundation
  • Environmental Management Authority
  • Environmental Research Institute of Charlotteville
  • University of the West Indies
Contact details

Anjani Ganase
Institute of Marine Affairs
Hilltop Lane
Trinidad and Tobago

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