W&M > VIMS > CCRM > Research > Mapping & Surveying > Benthic & Shallow Water Habitat Mapping

Research: Benthic and Shallow Water Habitat Mapping

eelgrassBenthic can be defined as anything associated with or happening on the bottom of a body of water.  Organisms living on the bottom of a body of water are referred to as benthos.  Habitat is broadly defined as the physical location or type of environment in which an organism or biological population lives or occurs and benthic habitat are those habitats in relation to the bottom. CCRM research focuses on the characterization of shallow benthic habitat (< 4 m depth), which includes many critical structural habitats such as seagrass beds, shellfish beds and sandflats.

Data from benthic habitats can be utilized in a myriad of ways including:
1) Examination of distributions of habitat in relation to biological communities,
2) Location and evaluation of essential spawning and nursery habitat, and
3) Quantification and removal of potentially harmful marine debris.

sediment core

Benthic Mapping Techniques

  • Acoustics—Side-scan sonar, echosounder

  • Verifying and Interpreting Side-Scan Sonar Data

  • Spatial analysis

Locator map with boxes

Current Research Projects