AquaMaps are computer-generated predictions of natural occurrence of marine species, based on the environmental tolerance of a given species with respect to depth, salinity, temperature, primary productivity, and its association with sea ice or coastal areas. These 'environmental envelopes' are matched against an authority file which contains respective information for the Oceans of the World. Independent knowledge such as distribution by FAO areas or bounding boxes are used to avoid mapping species in areas that contain suitable habitat, but are not occupied by the species.
This paper highlights the seriousness of the “biodiversity crisis” on atolls and the need to place greater research and conservation emphasis on atolls and other small island ecosystems. It is based on studies over the past twenty years conducted in the atolls of Tuvalu, Tokelau, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia. It stresses that atolls offer some of the greatest opportunities for integrated studies of simplified small-island ecosystems.