|A classification of intertidal marine biotopes for use in Ireland|
|Costello, M.J.; Emblow, C. (2005). A classification of intertidal marine biotopes for use in Ireland, in: Wilson, J.G. (Ed.) (2005). The intertidal ecosystem: the value of Ireland’s shores. pp. 25-37|
|In: Wilson, J.G. (Ed.) (2005). The intertidal ecosystem: the value of Ireland’s shores. Royal Irish Academy: Dublin. ISBN 1-904890-09-1. 206 pp., more|
The greatest benefit of using habitat classifications is that the results from surveys of one or more sites can be directly compared with other studies. Such comparisons are difficult where ad hoc classifications peculiar to particular surveys or surveyors have been used. The development of a standard classification thus provides an invaluable standard where evaluation of the nature conservation importance or long term monitoring of sites is required. The habitat classification developed as part of the BioMar project by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee in Britain, funded under the European Union LIFE Environment programme, is the first and only classification of all inshore littoral and sublittoral biotopes applicable to the north-east Atlantic. This classification aims to provide a standard nomenclature and guide for describing and mapping marine biotopes. It covers all marine habitats from the high tide seaward, with the exception of salt marshes. Its development involved 12 meetings and 2 workshops with over 100 scientists from over 50 organisations throughout Europe to ensure the resulting structure would be widely applicable in the north-east Atlantic, and analysis of field data from about 1,600 sampling stations at 900 sites in Ireland, and over 10,000 sites in Britain to provide an empirical basis for the biotope descriptions. This BioMar classification thus encompasses and complements related systems, including the European Union Habitats Directive, CORINE, European Palaearctic, Baltic HELCOM, French Znieff -MER, and European Environment Agency EUNIS (European Nature Information System). It has already been used in the identification of areas of nature conservation importance in Ireland and Britain. It has also been used in producing European Environment Agency EUNIS (European Nature Information System) (see Connor et al. 1997a, b for a more detailed linking of these systems). In this paper, we outline the benefits of using a marine biotope and habitat classification, describe the BioMar classification, and give some examples of the current and potential applications of this standardised ecological nomenclature and framework.