The Atlantic Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (AMAPPS) is a comprehensive multiagency research program on the U.S. Atlantic outer continental shelf, from Maine to the Florida Keys, covering waters from the coast to beyond the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The overarching goal of AMAPPS is to assess the abundance, distribution, ecology, and behavior of marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds throughout the U.S. Atlantic outer continental shelf and to evaluate these data within an ecosystem context where the results are accessible to managers, scientists and the public. Because marine ecosystems are complex and involve dynamic assemblages of many coexisting species, to understand these marine ecosystem processes and achieve the AMAPPS objectives, our research integrates cross-taxonomic groups across multiple trophic levels and uses a suite of data collection and analytical techniques.
The main agencies involved are the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), and the U.S. Navy. We have also built collaborations with numerous other national and international organizations.
During AMAPPS I (1 October 2010 to 30 September 2014), we focused on conducting broad scale aerial and shipboard surveys, developing spatially explicit contemporaneous density-habitat models, estimating abundance and describing distribution patterns of marine mammals, sea turtles and seabirds using visual, acoustic and telemetry data. We also collected ecosystem habitat and animal behavior data (Palka et al. 2017). AMAPPS I was the initial step in providing us with the data needed to develop a baseline that would allow us to evaluate future trends.