Benthic Habitat Mapping
The seafloor mapping program is doing a comprehensive benthic habitat mapping project of Cape Cod coastal resources in partnership with the National Park Service. Data collected include fine-scale bathymetry and sonar data, sediment grain size and organic content analysis, water column properties and marine macroinvertebrate community samples.
These data will create detailed benthic habitat maps that are a snapshot of present biological and physical resources in our shallow, coastal waters. Benthic habitat maps and data will provide a baseline for long-term monitoring and provide a “before” picture in the event of a major storm or pollution event.
WHAT DOES BENTHIC MEAN?
The benthos are the community of organisms living on the seafloor bottom, either on the surface (epifauna) or in the sediment (infauna)
Benthic grab samples taken in Pleasant Bay, Cape Cod show the distribution and abundance of dominant species in the system including Ampelisca amphipods, Caprellidae amphipods (commonly called skeleton shrimps) and Gemma gemma clams. The power of benthic habitat maps is that we will be able to combine information about macroinvertebrate communities with physical information such as water column temperature, sediment grain size, and bathymetry (sea floor topography).
We can start to identify some patterns simply by looking at the number of animals and the general types of habitat. For example, none of the animals are found at high numbers in the muddy habitat (dark brown circles) of ponds in the estuary. Once all the information we collect about the physical environment and the community of marine invertebrates is compiled we will have a very good picture of the benthic habitat.
Click on the images below to learn more about benthic habitat mapping
The Benthic Habitat Mapping program is supported by the National Park Service
and the Friends of Pleasant Bay.