Geophysical variables as predictors of megabenthos assemblages from the northern Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Beaman, Robin J., and Harris, Peter J. (2007) Geophysical variables as predictors of megabenthos assemblages from the northern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. In: Todd, B.J., and Greene, H.G., (eds.) Mapping the seafloor for habitat characterization. Geological Association of Canada special paper ; 47 . Geological Association of Canada, St. Johns, Canada, pp. 247-264.

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Abstract

The question as to whether geophysical data from habitats can be used to predict the occurrence of benthic biodiversity is becoming more important with the increase in Marine Protected Areas as tools for marine conservation. To help answer this question and to better understand the relationship between sediment, geomorphology and benthos, we conducted a multibeam sonar survey over two areas in the northern Great Barrier Reef - Gulf of Papua region. Multivariate statistical analyses (cluster, multi-dimensional scaling and BIO-ENV procedure) of the physical and biological datasets from both areas, determined that the geophysical variables, slope and gravel percentage, were the best predictors for megabenthos assemblage patterns. In conjunction with Geographic Information System (GIS) models of the geomorphology and bathymetry, these geophysical variables were used to derive the spatial boundaries of benthic habitats for each study area. We applied a hierarchical method of benthic habitat mapping to the Secondary Biotope and Biological Facies levels at the site (<10 km) scale. The combination of substrate type, sedimentary dynamics and physical processes related to near-seabed currents appear to be a dominant control on the benthic communities in the northern Great Barrier Reef - Gulf of Papua region. These results add confidence to the use of geophysical data from seabed habitats, such as geology, sediment and morphology, as predictors for benthos distribution and thus provide a basis for marine reserve selection.

Item ID: 1847
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
Keywords: benthos, habitat, geomorphology, multibeam sonar, Great Barrier Reef, Gulf of Papua
ISBN: 978-1-89-709533-1
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2008
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040601 Geomorphology and Regolith and Landscape Evolution @ 50%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040310 Sedimentology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9699 Other Environment > 969902 Marine Oceanic Processes (excl. Climate Related) @ 100%
Citation Count from Scopus Scopus 0
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