Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Testing and comparing benthic indicators – Improving regional scale assessments of benthic habitats - ME6026

Description
The UK uses indicators to report on progress against many of our national and international environmental targets such as those from OSPAR and the UK Marine Strategy. We currently use these indicators to assess the condition of seabed integrity and benthic communities and to measure the effect of any human activities, such as bottom-trawl fishing, on these habitats. The recent UK Marine Strategy Assessments identified key knowledge gaps in our understanding of these indicators. For example, we need to better understand the spatial and temporal impacts of different fishing gear types on benthic communities, develop standard reference conditions, review the biogeographical assessment units and environmental data, and develop sensitivity and disturbance methods. This project is working towards filling some of these knowledge gaps.

There are two main aims:

1. Compare a set of indicators to evaluate their capacity to measure change across different levels of exposure to pressures, and their suitability for use across different habitat types and pressure types within an area.

2. Use multimetric indicators based on community structure and biological traits analysis to calibrate and improve the data layers and methods underpinning the model-based indicators, exploring how the current method could be changed to improve the confidence of the results, and how additional pressures or data layers should be incorporated.

To undertake testing of these indicators, a number of assessment areas will be selected to run a set of analyses using a common set of data sources collated from surveys of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The area chosen will have fishing activity present, which allows us to compare how effectively each indicator detects and measures change due to that pressure. By using a common data set, we can compare the results to assess the effectiveness and the applicability of each indicator.
Objective
The general aim of the project is to improve regional scale assessments of benthic ecosystems and seafloor integrity by integrating relevant set of indicators. There are two objectives under this project:

1. Analyse and compare the results across a number of indices (BESITO, BISI, BEMMI, AMBI/IQI and PD2) to evaluate their capacity to measure changes across different levels of exposure to pressures, and their suitability for use across different habitat types and pressure types within a geographical area. This includes the ability to distinguish or pick up changes due to natural variability, type of results provided, potential redundancies and the scale of applicability or potential extrapolation of the results;

2. Use multimetric indices based on community structure and biological traits analysis to calibrate and improve the data layers and methods underpinning the model-based indicators (e.g. extent of physical damage), exploring how the current method could be changed to improve the confidence of the results, and how additional pressures should be incorporated.
Project Documents
• TPS - Two Page Summary : Testing and comparison of Benthic Indicators - Two Page Summary   (6284k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2019

To: 2022

Cost: £90,358
Contractor / Funded Organisations
J N C C (JNCC - Joint Nature Conservation Committee) Support Committee
Keywords
Biodiversity              
Ecology              
Habitats              
Marine              
Seabed