Mapping seabed habitats over large areas: prospects and limits

Type Contract report
Date 2021-01
Language English
Ref. EMODnet Thematic Lot n° 2 – Seabed Habitats. D1.15. EASME/EMFF/2018/
Author(s) Vasquez MickaelORCID5, Agnesi Sabrina7, Al Hamdani Zyad3, Annunziatellis Aldo7, Askew Natalie8, Bekkby Trine10, Bentes Luis1, Castle Lewis7, Doncheva Valentina11, Duncan Graeme8, Gonçalves Jorge1, Inghilesi Roberto7, Laamanen Leena11, Lillis Helen8, Manca Eleonora8, McGrath Fergal9, Mo Giulia7, Monteiro Pedro1, Muresan Mihaela2, O'Keeffe Eimear9, Pesch Roland4, Pinder Jordan8, Teaca Adrian2, Todorova Valentina6, Tunesi Leonardo7, Virtanen Elina11
Affiliation(s) 1 : Centre of Marine Sciences (“CCMAR”), Universidade do Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, 8005-032 Faro, Portugal
2 : National Institute of Research and Development for Marine Geology and Geoecology (“GeoEcoMar”), 23-25 Dimitrie Onciul Street, Sector 2, RO-024053, Bucharest, Romania
3 : Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (”GEUS”). Øster Voldgade 10, 1350, Copenhagen K, Denmark
4 : Institute for Applied Photogrammetry and Geoinformatics, Jade University of Applied Sciences, Ofener Str. 16, D-26121 Oldenburg, Germany
5 : Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (“Ifremer”), 1625 route de Sainte-Anne, Zone industrielle de la Pointe du Diable, 29280 Plouzané, France
6 : Institute of Oceanology, Bulgarian Academy of Science (“IO-BAS”), First May Str 40, 9000 Varna, Bulgaria
7 : Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (“ISPRA”), Via Vitaliano Brancati, 48 – 00144 – Roma, Italy
8 : JNCC Support Co (“JNCC”), Monkstone House, City Road, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, PE1 1JY, UK
9 : Marine Institute, Rinville, Oranmore, Co. Galway, Ireland
10 : Norwegian Institute for Water Research (“NIVA”), Gaustadallèen 21, NO‐0349 Oslo, Norway
11 : Finnish Environment Institute (“SYKE”), Latokartanonkaari 11, 00790 Helsinki, Finland
DOI 10.13155/78021
Publisher EMODnet

Since its inception, in 2009, EMODnet Seabed Habitats has brought together a European consortium of specialists in benthic ecology and seabed habitat mapping to develop a transnational broad-scale seabed habitat map, named EUSeaMap. EUSeaMap is the only pan-European cartographic product that provides a standardised trans-boundary overview of the spatial distribution of seabed habitats across Europe. As such, it has been extensively used in various applications such as Marine Protected Area evaluation or cumulative impact of stressors on habitats, and it is likely to be used again in the future in various marine ecosystem assessments. It is therefore important to continue to update it regularly when significant improvements to the data products that constitute its basis, i.e. the seabed substrate, bathymetry or environmental variables, are published.

In addition to EUSeaMap, it would be desirable to provide stakeholders with products on the spatial distribution of targeted habitats/biotopes such as those of conservation interest (e.g. kelp forest, seagrass meadows, coral reefs). Some techniques, hereafter referred to as "SDMs", are acknowledged to be effective in mapping these habitats.

We argue that a program that would use these techniques to map these key habitats/biotopes in European waters would be invaluable, but such a program can only be achieved if there is a significant improvement in the spatial resolution of environmental variables. An important message of this report is therefore that the EU should consider funding a project that would develop spatially explicit high-resolution (at least 500 m) data products on key variables (light availability, hydrodynamics, wave exposure, temperature, oxygenation, chlorophyll-a, phosphate, nitrate, etc.) that would spatially cover all European waters.

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Vasquez Mickael, Agnesi Sabrina, Al Hamdani Zyad, Annunziatellis Aldo, Askew Natalie, Bekkby Trine, Bentes Luis, Castle Lewis, Doncheva Valentina, Duncan Graeme, Gonçalves Jorge, Inghilesi Roberto, Laamanen Leena, Lillis Helen, Manca Eleonora, McGrath Fergal, Mo Giulia, Monteiro Pedro, Muresan Mihaela, O'Keeffe Eimear, Pesch Roland, Pinder Jordan, Teaca Adrian, Todorova Valentina, Tunesi Leonardo, Virtanen Elina (2021). Mapping seabed habitats over large areas: prospects and limits. EMODnet Thematic Lot n° 2 – Seabed Habitats. D1.15. EASME/EMFF/2018/