A Biotope is an area with specific communities of animals (and plants) living in a uniform physical environment. Biotope maps are important for the understanding of the sea floor, for both the MAREANO programme and for coastal mapping projects such as the Astafjord Project in southern Troms. These maps will be used for marine spatial planning and for various other consultancy activities related to the use of marine areas.
Cauliflower corals on the upper part of the continental slope outside of Troms, Norway. Photo: MAREANO.

The biotopes that are mapped in MAREANO contain unique combinations of species reflecting the particular environments where they are found. Modeling is the most cost effective way to create broad scale maps of biotopes on the seafloor. In MAREANO, we use multibeam echosounders to attain bathymetric data from which we can calculate the various terrain variables that help illustrate the varying environment variations. In addition, the backscatter from the echosounder provides information about the seafloor type that is used to compile geological seabed maps.

Geologists and biologists collaborate to produce biotope maps, following three steps. The first step is to identify and estimate the population size the animal communities from video surveys. These observations are used in multivariate analysis which serve to reveal natural groupings in the biotopes. It is a challenge to identify the most significant similarities and differences. To assist here, researchers use a second statistical analysis to find distinctions between groups based on objective statistical criteria.

Once the samples have been classified into groups, or biotopes with distinctive species composition, these classifications become "the machine-learning data" that will be used for modelling. The goal is to turn these data points into broad scale maps that reveal the likelihood of finding the distinct biotopes. Maps can only be made in areas with areal coverage of echosounder data. This data is used to identify the various terrain variables that will serve as reliable predictors of the surroundings.

Modellert fordeling av biotoper i området Nordland VI. Forklaring på fargekodene er gitt på
Modeling of the biotope divisions in Nordland VI. Explanations of the colour codes are provided at

Relaterte prosjekter

MAREANO maps the bathymetry, seafloor conditions, biodiversity, geodiversity and sedimentary contamination along the Norwegian coast and sea areas.