Habitat Classification and Biotope Mapping

Gardline collect, analyse and interpret marine data, using both seabed sampling ans photographic techniques. Producing over 85 individual habitat assessment reports annually, as standard these include the presence / absence of environmentally sensitive habitats, presentation of habitats using GIS and a selection of annotated seabed images. More complex biotope mapping reports incorporate all available data, including geophysical, hydrographic and environmental data.

Geophysical Acquisition Techniques

Classification is initially performed using geophysical acoustic techniques (swathe bathymetry and sidescan sonar), which gives an indication of potential habitats. Data is analysed offshore, enabling almost real-time identification. Ground truthing, utilising underwater seabed imagery systems and sediment samplers (PSA and macrofauna), is conducted to confirm and define initial findings of the geophysical data. 

Seabed Imagery

Typically, the habitat assessment survey is based on ground truthing of selected seabed sites, chosen from the environmental evaluation of acoustic survey data carried by our team of experienced Environmental Scientists. Depending on the conditions expected at the location, Gardline would propose a suitable camera and video system best adapted to that environment. 

Gardline owns and operates a number of seabed video and photographic systems for use in different environments, including a specialised fresh water lens, for operations in areas with poor visibility, and a deep water system rated to 6000m. All our camera systems include a strobe and additional lamps to provide illuminated video footage and still images and can be supplied with the addition of a variety of HD, high resolution and integrated laser scaling. Gardline’s high definition video camera, which is built within a duplex stainless steel housing rated to 3000m and recording a HD resolution of 1080p. This can be combined with a high resolution 14 megapixel stills camera built within a duplex stainless steel housing also rated to 3000m. These two cameras, paired together on a camera system, produce very high quality stills and footage which can aid in the identification of flora and fauna viewed during the survey at a later stage. Both cameras also come with an optional laser scale system, which further aids in the process of flora fauna identification.

Habitat classification

Gardline routinely undertakes seabed video and stills photography analysis as part of the habitat assessment reports produced for local and international clients. We are well versed in identifying habitats and species using a combination of scientific websites, ID books and in-house constructed ID guides. Furthermore Gardline are highly experienced in the identification of species and habitats listed in the EC Habitats Directive and OSPAR, and are proficient in the use of JNCC biotopes and associated mapping along with EUNIS classification. 

Habitat classification is used to identify different habitats and biotopes based on the biotic and abiotic features of the seabed. Habitat and biotope classification can be conducted on benthic survey data, adhering to protocols within the European Nature Information System (EUNIS). It covers all types of natural and artificial habitats, both aquatic and terrestrial. A marine habitat classification system for Britain, Ireland and the Northeast Atlantic was developed by the Joint Nature Conservation Council (JNCC) and has been fully incorporated into EUNIS. 

We have extensive experience in designing and implementing habitat classifications and biotope mapping surveys. Marine habitat classification and biotope mapping is driven by national and international legislation, including the Habitats Directive. They are required for all developments that will have an impact on the seabed. The habitat classification can range in complexity from a simple presence / absence of environmentally sensitive habitats to full biotope (distinctive habitat type) mapping of a region of interest using classifications such as EUNIS

Typical services include:

Deepwater surveys for Lophelia pertusa (cold water corals)

• EUNIS Habitat Classification

• Seabed Investigation Report 

• Biotope Classification

• GIS Manipulation and Mapping

• JNCC Marine Habitat Classification

• Investigation for presence or absence of Annex I habitats protected under the European Habitats Directive

• Mapping extent of Annex 1 Habitats 

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