Better understanding the ecosystem as it relates to subsistence and commercial marine resources

Photo Credit: Janet Berlin

About the Program


The NPRB Long-term Monitoring Program was launched in 2013. The board committed an initial $400,000 per year for five years to this effort (a total of $2 million). The first long-term monitoring projects were funded in 2014 and will continue for a minimum of five years.

What is long-term monitoring?

For the purpose of NPRB, long-term monitoring projects are defined as those that aid in understanding ecosystem variability and the effect of this variability on subsistence and/or commercial marine resources. In order to understand these processes, projects will need to address appropriate temporal and spatial scales, be interdisciplinary, involve multiple trophic levels, and have links to subsistence and/or commercial marine resources.

researchers deploying long-term mooring in the arctic

Photo Credit: Tanja Schollmeier

Overall Goal

The overall goal of the NPRB Long-term Monitoring (LTM) Program is to support new or existing time-series research that enhances scientists’ and policy-makers’ ability to understand the current state of the marine ecosystem. Through the LTM program, the board will support efforts that attempt to predict ecosystem responses to changing ocean conditions.

Program Management

Danielle Dickson is the NPRB Senior Program Manager for the Long-term Monitoring (LTM) Program. She works closely with LTM investigators to ensure that projects continue on schedule and offer any support throughout the duration of the program.

Program History

researchers on deck examining oceanographic samples

Photo Credit: Seth Danielson

The North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) has funded long-term monitoring (LTM) projects since 2002 through its annual Request for Proposals (RFPs) and as part of its Integrated Ecosystem Research Program with projects in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. The duration of these projects has varied between four months and four years; funding levels ranged from $30,000 to $730,000. Past NPRB-funded LTM projects spanned the ecosystem from physics, chemistry, and plankton to seabirds, whales, and subsistence. Without a formal initiative, the funding of these projects was largely in response to submitted proposals and based on a general desire to continue collecting valuable time series when other organizations reprioritized their funding allocations.

After ten years of funding process, modeling, retrospective, and monitoring programs, NPRB has decided to formalize its contribution to long-term monitoring in marine waters surrounding Alaska by creating this new LTM program. Therefore, LTM projects will no longer be accepted as part of the regular annual RFP process.

More Info

The NPRB Science Plan (2005) states that the greatest contribution from NPRB-funded research might come from well-designed, high-quality monitoring projects which focus on collection of physical, chemical, biological, and/or socio-economic aspects of the ecosystem and develop indices of ecosystem status from the ensuing time series. Careful monitoring of linkages at key nodes in the food web can serve as sentinels for larger system-wide changes due to climate change or other environmental perturbations; such monitoring also facilitates the development of indices that may be used to synthesize and interpret the observations in terms of potential changes in ecosystem structure and function.

The National Research Council (NRC) report (2004) that guided the development of the NPRB Science Plan highlighted that the establishment of time series is a serious commitment; the report recommended that NPRB should determine 1) the objectives and hypotheses that will govern data collection, 2) the criteria to be used in establishing and maintaining the time series, and 3) the locations that will best serve the overall goals of NPRB. Additionally, it noted that NPRB should establish a policy for periodic review of the time series.