Marine conservation must be based on robust data, such as information on the distribution of a species and an understanding of their mobility and the connectivity between habitats. In the marine environment, this baseline data is not always available.
Generating marine habitat maps is expensive and detailed work. Seabed maps then need to be monitored and adapted as our seas change. With existing technology and budgets, we cannot generate detailed habitat maps for our large cross-border seas, let alone monitor regularly changes in all the species that live there. But we can do it for particularly vulnerable species and habitats.
MarPAMM is developing a seabed species and habitats distribution model to fill in the gaps. The model helps us identify candidate sites for further detailed investigations where the environmental conditions might create habitats for protected species such as maerl, horse mussels, fan mussels, common skates or sustain protected habitats such as those associated with burrowed mud and seapens.
We are also developing best practice guidelines for species distribution modelling. These include a stakeholder engagement approach.
Finally, we are also trialling novel MPA monitoring technologies.
Findings from this work feed into baseline data into the MPA management plans work package (link to T5).
Example project activities
Video – why are robots useful for habitat mapping?
The seabed mapping and modelling component is the largest MarPAMM work package. It is led by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute with contributions from Marine Scotland Science, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Association for Marine Science, Ulster University and University College Cork.