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Defining marine landscapes on the Belgian Continental Shelf as an approach to holistic habitat mapping
Schelfaut, K. (2005). Defining marine landscapes on the Belgian Continental Shelf as an approach to holistic habitat mapping. MSc Thesis. Renard Centre of Marine Geology, Ghent University: Gent. 38 pp.

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Document type: Dissertation

Keywords
    Biological data; Mapping; Ocean floor; ANE, Belgium, Belgian Continental Shelf (BCS) [Marine Regions]; Marine

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  • Schelfaut, K., more

Abstract
    The concept of the marine landscapes is a quite young and recent developed approach firstly proposed by Roff and Taylor (2000). The concept offers an alternative for habitat mapping which generally combines geophysical and biological data for the direct mapping of community types. Mapping of extensive areas does not allow the usage of all kinds of datasets since biological data are generally lacking at a large scale. Therefore, the marine landscape approach allows to map habitats relatively fast without the usage of biological data. Available biological data are generally only used passively to validate the marine landscapes in terms of their biological relevance afterwards. This study is a first attempt to divide the Belgian continental shelf into discrete ecological units, solely based on geophysical data as proposed by the assumption of Roff and Taylor (2000). Datasets containing information on bathymetry, slopes, median grain-size, bedforms, maximum bed stress and gravel fields were integrated into a Geographic Information System (GIS) and further processed. Based on those variables, seventeen seabed marine landscapes are distinguished so far. As the approach serves as an alternative for habitat mapping, the defined marine landscapes must assure that they are biologically relevant.To ascertain the biological relevance of the seabed marine landscapes, the defined units are validated by means of biological information. The biological data are derived from real biological samples on the one hand and from sediment parameters on the other hand. The validation revealed a moderate correlation between the marine landscapes and the biological communities present on the Belgian continental shelf.

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