Seafloor Geomorphology as Benthic Habitat

Seafloor Geomorphology as Benthic Habitat

GeoHAB Atlas of Seafloor Geomorphic Features and Benthic Habitats

1st Edition - November 21, 2011

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  • Editors: Peter Harris, Elaine Baker
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780123851406
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123851413

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The conservation of marine benthic biodiversity is a recognised goal of a number of national and international programs such as the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). In order to attain this goal, information is needed about the distribution of life in the ocean so that spatial conservation measures such as marine protected areas (MPAs) can be designed to maximise protection within boundaries of acceptable dimensions. Ideally, a map would be produced that showed the distribution of benthic biodiversity to enable the efficient design of MPAs. The dilemma is that such maps do not exist for most areas and it is not possible at present to predict the spatial distribution of all marine life using the sparse biological information currently available. Knowledge of the geomorphology and biogeography of the seafloor has improved markedly over the past 10 years. Using multibeam sonar, the benthic ecology of submarine features such as fjords, sand banks, coral reefs, seamounts, canyons, mud volcanoes and spreading ridges has been revealed in unprecedented detail. This book provides a synthesis of seabed geomorphology and benthic habitats based on the most recent, up-to-date information. Introductory chapters explain the drivers that underpin the need for benthic habitat maps, including threats to ocean health, the habitat mapping approach based on principles of biogeography and benthic ecology and seabed (geomorphic) classification schemes. Case studies from around the world are then presented. They represent a range of seabed features where detailed bathymetric maps have been combined with seabed video and sampling to yield an integrated picture of the benthic communities that are associated with different types of benthic habitat. The final chapter examines critical knowledge gaps and future directions for benthic habitat mapping research.

Key Features

  • Reviews and compares the different methodologies currently being used
  • Includes global case studies
  • Provides geological expertise into what has traditionally been a biological discipline


Conservation planners and managers, conservation scientists, geologists, environmental managers, ecologists, and marine resource managers

Table of Contents

  • Foreword



    1. Why Map Benthic Habitats?

    2. Habitat Mapping and Marine Management

    3. Anthropogenic Threats to Benthic Habitats

    4. Biogeography, Benthic Ecology, and Habitat Classification Schemes

    5. Surrogacy

    6. Seafloor Geomorphology—Coast, Shelf, and Abyss

    7. Phanerogam Meadows

    8. Predictive Modeling of Dominant Macroalgae Abundance on Temperate Island Shelves (Azores, Northeast Atlantic)

    9. Methane-Related Carbonate Cementation of Marine Sediments and Related Macroalgal Coralligenous Assemblages in the Northern Adriatic Sea

    10. Coastal Kelp Forest Habitat in the Baie des Chaleurs, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada

    11. The Wadden Sea in the Netherlands

    12. Sand Wave Field

    13. Benthic Habitat Variations over Tidal Ridges, North Sea, the Netherlands

    14. Fine-Scale Geomorphological Mapping of Sandbank Environments for the Prediction of Macrobenthic Occurrences, Belgian Part of the North Sea

    15. Large Submarine Sand Waves and Gravel Lag Substrates on Georges Bank Off Atlantic Canada

    16. The Yongala’s “Halo of Holes”—Systematic Bioturbation Close to a Shipwreck

    17. Submarine De Geer Moraines in the Kvarken Archipelago, the Baltic Sea

    18. Habitats and Benthos of an Evolving Fjord, Glacier Bay, Alaska

    19. Geomorphic Features and Benthic Habitats of a Sub-Arctic Fjord

    20. Seabed Character and Habitats of a Rocky Antarctic Coastline

    21. Fringing Reefs of the Seychelles Inner Granitic Islands, Western Indian Ocean

    22. Coral Reefs and Reef Islands of the Amirantes Archipelago, Western Indian Ocean

    23. Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of the Geomorphic Features and Habitats of the Al Wajh Bank Reef System, Saudi Arabia, Red Sea

    24. Mesophotic Coral Reefs of the Puerto Rico Shelf

    25. Geomorphic Features and Infauna Diversity of a Subtropical Mid-Ocean Carbonate Shelf

    26. Geomorphology of Reef Fish Spawning Aggregations in Belize and the Cayman Islands (Caribbean)

    27. Submerged Reefs and Aeolian Dunes as Inherited Habitats, Point Cloates, Carnarvon Shelf, Western Australia

    28. Seafloor Morphology and Coral Habitat Variability in a Volcanic Environment

    29. Habitats and Benthos at Hydrographers Passage, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    30. Two Shelf-Edge Marine Protected Areas in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico

    31. Nontropical Carbonate Shelf Sedimentation. The Archipelago Pontino (Central Italy) Case History

    32. Habitats of the Cap de Creus Continental Shelf and Cap de Creus Canyon, Northwestern Mediterranean

    33. Rock Ridges in the Central English Channel

    34. Characterization of Shallow Inshore Coastal Reefs on the Tasman Peninsula, Southeastern Tasmania, Australia

    35. Rocky Reef and Sedimentary Habitats Within the Continental Shelf of the Southeastern Bay of Biscay

    36. Rock Reefs of British Columbia, Canada

    37. Seabed Habitats of the Southern Irish Sea

    38. Habitats and Demersal Fish Communities in the Vicinity of Albatross Bank, Gulf of Alaska

    39. Seabed Habitat of a Glaciated Shelf, German Bank, Atlantic Canada

    40. Identifying Potential Habitats from Multibeam Echosounder Imagery to Estimate Abundance of Groundfish

    41. Open Shelf Valley System, Northern Palaeovalley, English Channel, UK

    42. Benthos Supported by the Tunnel-Valleys of the Southern North Sea

    43. Benthic Habitats and Benthic Communities in Southeastern Baltic Sea, Russian Sector

    44. Inland Tidal Sea of the Northeastern Pacific

    45. Cold-Water Coral Distribution in an Erosional Environment

    46. Habitat Mapping of a Cold-Water Coral Mound on Pen Duick Escarpment (Gulf of Cadiz)

    47. Habitats at the Rockall Bank Slope Failure Features, Northeast Atlantic Ocean

    48. Evaluating Geomorphic Features as Surrogates for Benthic Biodiversity on Australia’s Western Continental Margin

    49. Habitats of the Chella Bank, Eastern Alboran Sea (Western Mediterranean)

    50. Habitat Heterogeneity in the Nazaré Deep-Sea Canyon Offshore Portugal

    51. Banks, Troughs, and Canyons on the Continental Margin off Lofoten, Vesterålen, and Troms, Norway

    52. Distribution of Hydrocorals Along the George V Slope, East Antarctica

    53. The Cook Strait Canyon, New Zealand

    54. The Ascension–Monterey Canyon System

    55. A Study of Geomorphological Features of the Seabed and the Relationship to Deep-Sea Communities on the Western Slope of Hatton Bank (NE Atlantic Ocean)

    56. Seafloor Habitats and Benthos of a Continental Ridge

    57. Habitats and Benthos of a Deep-Sea Marginal Plateau, Lord Howe Rise, Australia

    58. Seamounts, Ridges, and Reef Habitats of American Samoa

    59. Mapping Condor Seamount Seafloor Environment and Associated Biological Assemblages (Azores, NE Atlantic)

    60. Cold-Water Coral Colonization of Alboran Sea Knolls, Western Mediterranean Sea

    61. Fluid Venting Through the Seabed in the Gulf of Cadiz (SE Atlantic Ocean, Western Iberian Peninsula)

    62. Habitats of the Su Su Knolls Hydrothermal Site, Eastern Manus Basin, Papua New Guinea

    63. Southern Kermadec Arc–Havre Trough Geohabitats and Biological Communities

    64. GeoHab Atlas of Seafloor Geomorphic Features and Benthic Habitats

    Appendix 1. Questionnaire Completed by All Case Study Authors


Product details

  • No. of pages: 936
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2011
  • Published: November 21, 2011
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780123851406
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123851413

About the Editors

Peter Harris

Peter Harris
I joined GRID-Arendal as Managing Director in 2014. I am a native of the USA, citizen of Australia and resident of Norway; I describe myself as a “professional foreigner”. I am a graduate of the University of Washington (Seattle USA), completed a PhD at the University of Wales (Swansea UK), married an Australian and have 3 children. I have worked in the field of marine geology and science management for over 30 years and published over 100 scientific papers. I taught marine geology at the University of Sydney and conducted research on UK estuaries, the Great Barrier Reef, the Fly River Delta (Papua New Guinea) and Antarctica. I worked for 20 years for Australia’s national geoscience agency as a scientist and manager. In 2009 I was appointed a member of the group of experts for the United Nations World Ocean Assessment. Apart from managing all of GRID-Arendal’s amazing activities, my interests include new methods for the conduct of environmental assessments (the expert elicitation method) and the use of multivariate statistics and geomorphology to provide tools to manage the global ocean environment. I also enjoy sailing and playing the bagpipes.

Affiliations and Expertise

Geoscience Australia, Canberra, Australia

Elaine Baker

Elaine holds the inaugural UNESCO Chair in Marine Science at the University of Sydney and is the Director of the University's Marine Studies Institute. Professor Baker is also the Director of the GRID-Arendal office (an official collaborating centre of UNEP) at the University. Elaine is interested in making real world impact – taking the ideas and inspiration of the university beyond academia to help solve some of our biggest problems. She has worked on developing policy recommendations to deal with the growing burden of waste, how to make waste-water pay its own way, how to change the face of mining so it includes people and the planet alongside profit and why our coastal ecosystems are worth more alive than dead. Over the last 10 years Elaine has been working with partners in Australia and Norway on a project that is redrawing the map of the world – to date assisting more than 60 developing coastal states in their efforts to prepare submissions to the United Nations, for what is known as extended continental shelf. This process, when complete, will establish the outer limits of marine jurisdiction for eligible coastal states, helping to finalise global maritime boundaries. A recent milestone in the project was the joint submission for extended continental shelf made by seven West African coastal states. Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Cabo Verde and Sierra Leone joined together in an historic collaboration, to make a single submission for a large area of marine territory. In the Pacific Professor Baker is a co-founder of the Pacific Maritime Boundaries collaboration, which includes the University of Sydney, GRID- Arendal, SOPAC/SPC, Geoscience Australia, the Pacific Forum Fisheries Association, the Australian Attorney Generals Department, the Commonwealth Secretariat and 14 Pacific Islands States. Since 2008 scientific, technical and diplomatic personnel have been meeting twice a year at the University to prepare claims for extended continental shelf under article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and more recently to negotiate and prepare national legislation for shared maritime boundaries. The boundaries projects, known collectively as the Shelf Programme, is building on these successes to develop other initiatives that support sustainable livilihoods along side good ocean governance.

Affiliations and Expertise


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