A new classification scheme of European cold-water coral habitats: implications for ecosystem-based management of the deep sea

Type Article
Date 2017-11
Language English
Author(s) Davies J. S.1, Guillaumont Brigitte1, Tempera FernandoORCID2, 11, Vertino A.3, 4, Beuck L.5, Olafsdottir S. H.6, Smith C. J.7, Fossa J. H.8, Van Den Beld Inge1, Savini A.3, Rengstorf A., Bayle Christophe1, Bourillet Jean-FrancoisORCID10, Arnaud-Haond SophieORCID1, 12, Grehan A.9
Affiliation(s) 1 : IFREMER, Ctr Bretagne, EEP LEP Lab Environm Profond, CS10070, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
2 : Univ Azores, MARE Marine & Environm Sci Ctr, IMAR Ctr, Dept Oceanog & Fisheries,MARE IMAR DOP UAz, P-9901862 Horta, Azores, Portugal.
3 : Univ Milano Bicocca, ULR CoNISMa Milano Bicocca, Dept Earth & Environm Sci, I-20126 Milan, Italy.
4 : Univ Ghent, Renard Ctr Marine Geol, Dept Geol, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.
5 : Senckenberg am Meer, Marine Res Dept, D-26382 Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
6 : Hafrannsoknastofnunin Marine & Freshwater Res Ins, Reykjavik, Iceland.
7 : Hellen Ctr Marine Res, POB 2214, Iraklion 71003, Crete, Greece.
8 : IMR, Benth Habitats & Shellfish Res Grp, N-5817 Bergen, Norway.
9 : NUI Galway, Sch Nat Sci, Earth & Ocean Sci, Galway, Ireland.
10 : IFREMER, Phys Resources & Sea Floor Ecosyst Dept, CS10070, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
11 : IFREMER, Ctr Bretagne, Lab Ecol Benth Cotiere LEBCO, CS10070, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
12 : IFREMER, Marine Biodivers Exploitat & Conservat, Bd Jean Monnet,BP 171, F-34203 Sete, France.
Source Deep-sea Research Part Ii-topical Studies In Oceanography (0967-0645) (Pergamon-elsevier Science Ltd), 2017-11 , Vol. 145 , P. 102-109
DOI 10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.04.014
WOS© Times Cited 33

Cold-water coral (CWC) habitats can form complex structures which provide refuge, nursery grounds and physical support for a diversity of other living organisms, but despite their ecological significance, CWCs are still vulnerable to human pressures such as fishing, pollution, ocean acidification and global warming

Providing coherent and representative conservation of vulnerable marine ecosystems including CWCs is one of the aims of the Marine Protected Areas networks being implemented across European seas and oceans under the EC Habitats Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the OSPAR Convention. In order to adequately represent ecosystem diversity these initiatives require a standardised habitat classification that organises the variety of biological assemblages and provides consistent and functional criteria to map them across European Seas (Howell 2010). One such classification system, EUNIS, enables a broad level classification of the deep sea based on abiotic and geomorphological features. More detailed lower biotope-related levels are currently under-developed, particularly with regards deep-water habitats (>200 m depth).

This paper proposes a hierarchical CWC biotope classification scheme that could be incorporated by existing classification schemes such as EUNIS. The scheme was developed within the EU FP7 project CoralFISH to capture the variability of CWC habitats identified using a wealth of seafloor imagery datasets from across European seas and oceans. Depending on the resolution of the imagery being interpreted, this hierarchical scheme allows data to be recorded from broad CWC biotope categories down to detailed taxonomy-based levels, thereby providing a flexible yet valuable information level for management. The CWC biotope classification scheme identifies 81 biotopes and highlights the limitations of the classification framework and guidance provided by EUNIS, the EC Habitats Directive, OSPAR and FAO; with limited categories for identifying and classifying these CWC habitats.

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Davies J. S., Guillaumont Brigitte, Tempera Fernando, Vertino A., Beuck L., Olafsdottir S. H., Smith C. J., Fossa J. H., Van Den Beld Inge, Savini A., Rengstorf A., Bayle Christophe, Bourillet Jean-Francois, Arnaud-Haond Sophie, Grehan A. (2017). A new classification scheme of European cold-water coral habitats: implications for ecosystem-based management of the deep sea. Deep-sea Research Part Ii-topical Studies In Oceanography, 145, 102-109. Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.04.014 , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00383/49474/