A major part of the activities conducted over the last decade by the National Biomonitoring Specimen Bank (NBSB) has involved the archival of marine specimens collected by ongoing environmental monitoring programs. These archived specimens include bivalves, marine sediments, and fish tissues collected by the National Status and Trends and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Damage Assessment programs, and marine mammal tissues collected by the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program and the Alaska Marine Mammal Tissue Archival Project. In addition to supporting these programs, the specimens have been used to investigate circumpolar patterns of chlorinated hydrocarbon concentrations, genetic separation of marine animal stocks, baseline levels of essential and nonessential elements in marine mammals, and the potential risk to human consumers in the Arctic from anthropogenic contaminants found in local subsistence foods. The NBSB specimens represent a resource that has the potential for addressing future issues of marine environmental quality and ecosystem changes through retrospective analysis; however, an ecosystem-based food web approach would maximize this potential. The current status of the NBSB activities related to the banking of marine organisms is presented and discussed, the long-term prospective of these activities is presented, and the importance of an ecosystem-based food web monitoring approach to the value of specimen banking is discussed.
Additional Publication Details
Specimen banking of marine organisms in the United States: Current status and long-term prospective