Benthic Habitat Mapping from Seabed Acoustic Surveys: Do Implicit Assumptions Hold?

  1. Michael Z. Li2,
  2. Christopher R. Sherwood3 and
  3. Philip R. Hill4
  1. Vladimir E. Kostylev

Published Online: 3 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118311172.ch20

Sediments, Morphology and Sedimentary Processes on Continental Shelves: Advances in Technologies, Research, and Applications

Sediments, Morphology and Sedimentary Processes on Continental Shelves: Advances in Technologies, Research, and Applications

How to Cite

Kostylev, V. E. (2012) Benthic Habitat Mapping from Seabed Acoustic Surveys: Do Implicit Assumptions Hold?, in Sediments, Morphology and Sedimentary Processes on Continental Shelves: Advances in Technologies, Research, and Applications (eds M. Z. Li, C. R. Sherwood and P. R. Hill), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, West Sussex, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118311172.ch20

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic), Natural Resources Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, B2Y 4A2 Canada

  2. 3

    U. S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole, MA 02543-1598 USA

  3. 4

    Natural Resources Canada, Sidney, BC, Canada V8L 4B2

Author Information

  1. Natural Resources Canada, 1 Challenger Drive (P.O. Box 1006), Dartmouth, NS, Canada B2Y 4A2

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 3 JAN 2013
  2. Published Print: 26 JAN 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444350821

Online ISBN: 9781118311172

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Keywords:

  • benthic;
  • habitat;
  • mapping;
  • multibeam;
  • acoustic;
  • disturbance

Summary

Geological mapping of the seabed has great potential for use in predicting spatial patterns of benthic communities and ecosystems. Recent technological advances in acoustic surveys empower scientists to acquire massive amounts of information on seabed structure, texture, complexity and subsurface. Benthic habitat maps, based on high-resolution acoustic surveys, often accompanied by groundtruthing through cores, grab and optical samples utilize implicit assumptions on relationships between sampled acoustic signal, seabed morphology, texture and biological derivatives, such as community composition. There are two major groups of assumptions on the path from collecting survey data to creating a map of benthic habitats: The first is that we can confidently interpret properties of surficial sediments, and the second, that the derived textural or morphological classes are relevant to seabed ecology. The degree of uncertainty behind these assumptions may render the resulting habitat maps useless. The current understanding of sediment-organism relationships, based mostly on studies of sediment grain size, requires urgent revision. Interaction of sediment and flow as a most common agent of natural disturbance, together with the effects of benthic organisms on this interaction are at the core of benthos-sediment coupling. Better understanding of ecological patterns and physical processes in the benthic boundary layer on a range of spatial scales will allow more efficient use of remote sensing tools and techniques for using geological information as a proxy in benthic ecosystem mapping.