Recommended Operating Guidelines (ROGs) for habitat mapping

Marine habitat mapping requires a full coverage map of the physical structure of the seabed and information on the biological communities present throughout the study area.  Remote sensing or acoustic survey technology is normally employed to map the physical structure of the seabed, with the biological information derived from remote sampling or direct observation of the seabed.
Most of the techniques used by habitat mappers were designed for other survey disciplines, most of which have well established standard operating procedures (SOPs) to provide quality data for their intended purpose.  At its outset, the MESH Project undertook a Review of Standards and Protocols for Habitat Mapping (Coggan et al., 2007) (available from the resource folder as MESH Standards & Protocols) with the aim of reviewing the suitability of existing material as guidance for a habitat mapping application. It became apparent, that various organisations and institutions were utilising the same equipment in slightly different ways.  One of the main reasons for this divergence has been user’s translation of application of a technique from its originally intended purpose to habitat mapping.  As a result, the MESH Recommended Operating Guidelines (ROG) were identified as necessary to describe how best to use each technique in a marine habitat mapping context.  Where applicable, existing standard operating procedures, ISO standards or equivalent are recognised and links are made to appropriate references and websites. 
The MESH ROGs are not intended to be prescriptive as the range of conditions, situations and environments in which techniques are used will necessitate adaptation to suit local needs.  They reflect operational experience of using particular techniques for marine habitat mapping and ensure that the data required and obtained for habitat mapping are of a suitable quality and compatible with similar data from other surveys. It is important to adopt a certain level of consistency in the operation of a technique.  Additionally, as many of the techniques can be used for purposes other than habitat mapping, it is important to indicate the particular way in which they should (or should not) be used for habitat mapping studies.

All material variously copyrighted by MESH project partners 2004-2010

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