View a copy of the statement of work for Gulf GAME

Scope of Work

Since data inventory and integration efforts have already commenced in Florida, there is a good base from which to expand the project to include all states in the northern Gulf of Mexico region. Additionally, scientists and managers from Mexican states along the Gulf of Mexico will be encouraged to contribute information to the database, called "the Catalog."  Once the database is fully populated, it will be available as an online searchable database of data sources and metadata for use by state and federal agencies in the U.S., and by other countries that border the Gulf of Mexico.

The search will be hosted on the Priority Habitat Information System (PHINS) Web site. PHINS is a federal/state partnership created to support the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GoMA).

The data inventory will have both a regional and local scope and will focus on gathering data and mapping coastal habitats progressing from the estuaries offshore to the edge of the continental shelf to a depth of 200 meters.

The combination of data in a GIS-compatible database will enable overlay of diverse information in a way that permits transparent and intuitive visualization of habitats and other non-living and living marine resources. In other words, it is possible to stack layers atop each other which allows researchers to visualize habitats. Information gaps will be identified and maps produced; the initial focus being on seagrass beds, identified by the EPA as being a critical concern. The availability of updated maps gathered from a spatially organized database can allow rapid access to the information needed to enhance the understanding and protection of habitats and their associated marine resources.

In addition, data mining (a technical term used by scientists for researching) of historical data (e.g., from reports and publications) and their subsequent inventory using metadata standards within an organized data management framework will benefit both researchers and decision makers.

PHASE 1 - Identify and Assess Gulf Habitat Data Sources

Goals:  Coordinate the collection of information from state and federal sources and complete an inventory of existing habitat data and identify gaps in available information, specifically focusing on seagrasses. This inventory will identify the data available and associated metadata. If Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) compliant metadata are not present, it can be created through the Metadata Enterprise Resource Management Aid (MERMAid). Otherwise, the GAME survey can be used to create a simplified version of metadata known as "metadata lite."

The inventory will focus on identifying data sources, cataloging the data, and where applicable, obtaining datasets for both estuarine and marine habitats situated in the coastal zone.  Interim and final products will include: (a) User Needs Assessment; (b) Inventory of Gulf of Mexico Habitat Data; and (c) Assessment of Priority Gulf of Mexico Habitat Data Needs.

Phase 1 covers basic data inventory and cataloging and identification of information gaps with respect to habitat-related information, specifically targeting seagrasses.

Letters and e-mails are being targeted at those most likely to have habitat-related data. Meetings and conference presentations also are planned to help contact those who have the information.

The primary objectives of Phase 1 include the following:

  1. Identify the user community for such information and the best use scenarios by which to serve the data. This User Needs Assessment will help to strengthen further activities.
  2. Identify, catalog, and inventory physical, biological, chemical, geological, and other environmental data and reports within the boundaries of coastal and marine waters, adjacent federal waters and coastal lands of the Gulf of Mexico.  Seagrass will be a primary target.
  3. Conduct a detailed assessment and develop a prioritized list of datasets that are required to fill specific data gaps, targeting seagrasses.
  4. Develop a comprehensive data identification strategy to support all subsequent geospatial data management, storage, and mapping needs.

Efforts will be concentrated on the following activities: detect/locate, collate, and combine existing data and information to assess marine habitats and structure. This effort represents the first step in a major, long-term regional effort to implement new procedures of ecosystem-based management and governance.

Task 1-Identify relevant spatial, tabular, and literature-based datasets

1.1. Examples of spatial information include, but are not limited to:
• Benthic habitats, including: hard bottom, submerged aquatic vegetation, and coral reefs.
• Physical marine, including: circulation patterns, salinity, and temperature.
• Geomorphology, including bathymetry and coastal elevation (Light Detecting and Ranging (LIDAR), also called laser radar, where available), bottom structure, and sediment characteristics.
As part of the survey, work will be conducted with relevant state and federal agencies, academic institutions, regional observing systems and recognized regional experts including non-government organizations and others in the private sector to expand the data catalog and inventory.

1.2. Manage the advancement of the online survey to determine locations of preliminary  data sources identified in Task 1-1, including mechanisms to solicit other relevant information sources not included in the preliminary target list. A formal online survey has already been created and deployed targeting Florida data. Target individuals have been identified at state universities and other organizations.

1.3. Continue the identification and inventory of readily available GIS and tabular data sets and/or develop active links to other existing archives as well as near-real-time data streams according to the project's data management plan; store information in the GAME Catalog.  Develop a plan for acquiring non-electronic information in the Gulf of Mexico that is desirable and readily available for data input procedures.

1.4. Complete the design and deployment of an Internet application to allow searching for information online and to provide links to digital data and related metadata for use by researchers, resource managers, and the public. This will include a strategy to develop live and active links with other databases and coastal and other observing systems that collect/serve data and operate permanent data archives.


• List of preliminary data sources
• List of critical data
• Data and information survey form and results
• New Catalog entries
• Upload entries to PHINS via MERMAid

Task 2.  Identification of Data Gaps According to Critical Needs Identified by EPA

Many of the data required for this effort are not immediately available for a number of reasons, including lack of publication, proprietary restrictions, formatting or lack of digitization, therefore, are not available as GIS data layers or even in digital form. Further, much of the marine environment in the Gulf of Mexico remains poorly studied and many resources are unmapped.  For these reasons, a considerable initial effort will be devoted to determining the data gaps according to critical needs identified by EPA (seagrasses).

2-1. Assess data and other resource gaps and produce a prioritized list of information gaps according to critical needs.
2-2. Implement the plan developed in task 1-4 to acquire high priority non-electronic critical information sources.

• Prioritized list of data/information gaps according to critical needs

PHASE II Goals:  Create spatial footprints in a GIS environment to identify information gaps according to critical needs:

Phase 2:  As part of the initial Florida effort a standard metadata format has been established to streamline metadata development and maintenance at the state, local, and federal level.  This is considered light metadata, suitable for entry into the catalog and served via the Web portal.  This format is FGDC-compliant and suitable for all data types.  Since the catalog collects location-related information, these datasets can be viewed via an Internet Map Server (IMS). Data may be accessed via active links to the holding organizations.
Data layers that are considered essential habitat layers may need manipulation in order to be used within the IMS or other Web applications. Some of these data may be in tabular or hard copy formats.  Habitat data sets identified as essential will be given priority for conversion to digital data.  Some data will reside on client servers and be accessed via Web services or other links to data sources.

• Maps depicting data gaps according to critical needs

PHASE III Goals - Produce a prototype Web portal to provide public access to, and delivery of, current and historic state, federal, and local Gulf of Mexico habitat data.

Phase 3:  A Federal Data Management Group (FDMG) will be established.  This team will comprise state, local, and federal entities to identify specific requirements for a regional data management platform and portal.  We have standing Memorandums of Agreement with NOAA, USGS, and the National Park Service (NPS) and are contributing members of several committees within the Coastal Ocean Observing Systems network and other state and federal councils. This project will support the Florida Ocean and Coastal Resources Council in its efforts to create a Resource Assessment and a Research Review.
A data management platform and IMS will provide access and delivery of existing state, local and federal data.
As needed, work can be produced with federal and state partners to provide training on data management to Gulf state agencies and as well as GIS and metadata training to state and local managers in the five Gulf states.  It is expected that this inventory and data delivery system will be user friendly and aimed toward non-GIS users such as natural resource managers at all levels of government. An IMS can be built or existing portals can be used, such as the PHINS for the Gulf of Mexico being developed by USGS, USACE (U.S. Army Core of Engineers), and NOAA, or the USGS Geospatial One-Stop portal.
The IMS will act as a data portal facilitating the creation of customized online spatial footprints, and provide access to downloadable geospatial datasets (e.g., shapefiles, habitat grids), documents, and in some cases raw data containing GIS-compatible coordinates (e.g., latitude/longitude). The IMS will have web-searchable directories to facilitate easy access to geospatial data and information.

• Updated Internet Map Service (IMS)

FWC Facts:
Seagrass evolved 100 million years ago from land plants that returned to the sea.

Learn More at AskFWC