What is a benthic habitat map?
A benthic habitat map is a:
“Spatial representation of physically distinct areas of seafloor that are associated with particular groups of plants and animals.”
-Harris and Baker. 2012. Seafloor geomorphology as benthic habitat GeoHAB atlas of seafloor geomorphic features and benthic habitats, 1st ed, Elsevier, Amsterdam ; Boston
What can benthic habitat maps tell us?
* Summarize the physical and biological resources of a region
* Species distribution and abundance
* Water and habitat quality
* Changing ecological communities and document invasive species
* Fisheries resources
Why are benthic habitat maps important?
* Support informed decisions about managing our coastlines
* Long-term monitoring
* Baseline for future storm or pollution events
* Identify critical/sensitive habitats
Mapping the submerged habitat of the Cape Cod National Seashore will provide data that can be used by the National Park Service, local communities and researchers for years to come.
Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS)
What is CMECS?
* Simple framework to describe natural and human influenced marine environments
* Combines biological, geological, chemical and physical data
* Complies with Federal Geographic Data Committee standards
* Flexible (accepts many types of data)
* A powerful common language that allows data to be compared across regions
We will put all of our physical and biological data into the CMECS framework to describe the biotopes or distinct ecological/physical communities found in Cape Cod.
CMECS Eelgrass Example in Pleasant Bay
Here is an example of how we can use the CMECS framework to classify an eelgrass bed we sampled in the upper part of Pleasant Bay in the summer of 2014.
Water Column Component
Layer: Estuarine Coastal Lower Water Column
Salinity Regime: Upper Polyhaline
Temperature Regime: Moderate
Class: Aquatic Vegetation Bed
Subclass: Aquatic Vascular Vegetation
Group: Seagrass Bed
Community: Zostera marina Herbaceous Vegetation
Class: Unconsolidated Mineral
Subclass: Fine Unconsolidated
Group: Sandy Mud
Tectonic Setting: Passive Continental Margin
Physiographic Setting: Lagoonal Estuary
Level 1: Cove
Level 1 Type: Mainland Cove
Click on the images below to learn more about benthic habitat mapping