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Biogeographic Assessment of Samoan Archipelago


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Objective

To conduct and report on a biogeographic assessment of the Samoan Archipelago. The resulting technical report (linked below) examines the marine biogeography of the Samoan Archipelago (~14º S latitude along the international date-line) with a focus on regional ocean climate, connectivity among islands due to larval transport, distributions of reef fish and coral communities, and the extent of existing marine protected areas.

Samoa Study Region Map
Figure 1. Study region of Samoan Archipelago Biogeographic Assessment

Project Summary

Biogeography examines the distribution of biota and their habitats as well as the environmental factors that have shaped them. Biogeographic characterizations are among the basic information inputs required not only for making informed management decisions but also building public support for them.

The assessment resulted in a technical report, divided into five chapters and supporting appendices. Each chapter was written and reviewed in collaboration with subject matter specialists and local experts. In Chapter 1, a short introduction to the overall scope and approach of the report is provided. In Chapter 2, regional ocean climate is characterized using remote sensing datasets and discussed in the context of local observations. In Chapter 3, regional ocean currents and transport of coral and fish larvae are investigated among the islands of the archipelago and surrounding island nations. In Chapter 4, distinct reef fish and coral communities across the archipelago are quantified on the basis of overall biodiversity, abundance, and community structure. In Chapter 5, the existing network of MPAs in American Samoa is evaluated based on the habitats, reef fish, and coral communities that are encompassed. Appendices provide analytical details omitted from some chapters for brevity as well as supplemental datasets needed as inputs for the main chapters in the assessment. Appendices include an inventory of regional seamounts, a description of shore-to-shelf edge benthic maps produced for Tutuila, analytical details of reef fish and coral datasets, and supplemental information on the many marine protected areas in American Samoa.

The main objectives and some key findings of the report are linked here.

Samoa Products Diagram
Figure 2. Activities supported by the biogeographic assessment of the Samoan Archipelago

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