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Seabed habitat mapping in the Kent Group of islands and its role in marine protected area planning

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Barrett, NS and Halley, V (2005) Seabed habitat mapping in the Kent Group of islands and its role in marine protected area planning. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 15 (1). pp. 51-70. ISSN 1099-0755

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Abstract

1. Mapping of seabed habitats is increasingly being used to identify the distribution and
structure of marine ecosystems and as surrogate measures of biodiversity for marine protected
area (MPA) planning. In this study, the distribution of seabed habitats to the 3 nmi limit around
the Kent Group of islands, south-eastern Australia were mapped using video ground-truthed
single-beam acoustics at the mesoscale level (10m to 1 km) as part of an MPA planning
process.
2. Six distinct seabed habitat types (continuous reef, patchy reef, sand, hard sand,
sparse sponge, and seagrass) were identified based primarily on visual differences in the first
and second echo and a further four (low, medium and high profile reef, and sand hills) on variations
in seabed profile identified in the echogram. Extensive acoustic and video transects allowed
an estimate of the broad-scale spatial distribution of seabed habitats defined at several
hierarchical levels and provided information on the cover of the dominant benthic species or
assemblages.
3. The island group supports a range of consolidated habitats, including rocky reefs of varying
profile dominated by the macroalgae Phyllospora comosa and Ecklonia radiata in depths down to
around 45 m, adjacent to deeper sponge-dominated reefs containing encrusting, erect and branching
forms. Unconsolidated habitats occurred broadly through the island group, with the offshore region
dominated by hard sand (sand with scallop shells and/or shell grit) and sparse sponge-habitats (sand
interspersed with low cover of sponge-dominated assemblages). The sheltered coves were dominated
by sand and seagrass habitats consisting of beds of the seagrasses Halophila australis, Zostera
tasmanica and Posidonia australis, with variations in species composition, patchiness and percentage
cover evident within and between coves.
4. In February 2004 the Kent Group MPA was announced, covering all waters out to the 3 nmi
limit containing two areas defined as a Sanctuary Zone (‘no take’) and a Habitat Protection Zone
(‘restricted take’). Overall, seabed habitat mapping generated a capability to define the boundary and
size of potential MPA zones within the Kent Group of islands and was an essential component of the
planning process to improve the likelihood that the MPA was comprehensive, adequate and
representative (CAR).

Item Type: Article
Keywords: seabed habitat mapping;classification;marine protected areas;representative
Journal or Publication Title: Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Page Range: pp. 51-70
ISSN: 1099-0755
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1002/aqc.657
Additional Information:

The original publication is available at
http://www.interscience.wiley.com/

Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2010 03:31
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:14
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