Physical proxies to predict biological assemblages on a tropical shelf: An example from the northern Great Barrier Reef, Australia
May 04, 2005

Authors: Beaman, R.J., Harris, P.T.

Year: 2005

Publication: V.J. Barrie and K. Conway (Editors), Sixth International Symposium of GeoHab, 4-7 May 2005. Institute of Marine Sciences, Sidney, Canada.


Due to the difficulty of mapping the distribution of benthic biodiversity on continental shelves, an important question is whether geological and physical data can be used as a proxy to predict the occurrence of assemblages of benthic organisms? In this study, we mapped a low-relief Area A and high-relief Area B in the northern Great Barrier Reef with a multibeam swath echosounder, Chirp seismic profiler, and conducted extensive water column, seabed and underwater video groundtruthing.

This paper reports on the techniques used to discriminate benthic habitats and biological communities in the two areas. Multivariate statistical analysis was used to examine the relationships between environmental variables and biological assemblages. We define the combination of geological and physical factors which are the best proxies for predicting benthic biodiversity on the tropical shelf.

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