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Benthic habitat mapping on the Scotian shelf based on multibeam bathymetry, surficial geology and seafloor photographs

Author(s): Kostylev VE, Todd BJ, Fader GBJ, Courtney RC, Cameron GDM, et al.

Abstract

This study presents results of a new approach for sea floor habitat mapping based on an integrated analysis of multibeam bathymetric data, associated geoscientific information, and benthos data from Browns Bank on the southwestern Scotian Shelf, off the Canadian Atlantic coast. Based on sea floor sediment maps and statistical analysis of megabenthos determined from photographs, 6 habitats and corresponding associations of benthos were derived and mapped. The habitats are distinguished primarily on the basis of sediment type and water depth. Additional factors are sea floor geomorphology, habitat complexity, and relative current strength. A Browns Bank benthic habitat map is developed as a conceptual model summarizing the understanding of the bank ecology. This study highlights the utility of multibeam bathymetric sonar for interpretation of sea floor sediments and for extrapolating benthic habitat characteristics across large areas of sea floor.

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