Report 530
A Deep-sea Section for the Marine Habitat Classification of Britain and Ireland
(2015)
Parry, M.E.V., Howell, K.L., Narayanaswamy, B.E., Bett, B.J., Jones, D.O.B., Hughes, D.J., Piechaud, N., Nickell, T.D., Ellwood, H., N. Askew, N., Jenkins, C. & Manca, E.
This report has been produced to accompany the release of the JNCC Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland Version 15.03 which has been published on the JNCC website, replacing the previous Version 04.05, which covers the littoral zone to the deep-circalittoral zone, but adds a new deep-sea section.
 

Introduction

 
The current Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland v04.05 (Connor et al 2004) (hereafter referred to as the JNCC classification) describes seabed habitats from the intertidal zone down to depths of c.200m. It has become a priority to develop a deep-sea section to allow deep-sea survey data acquired by JNCC and Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies (SNCBs) to be assigned a biotope. This should help prevent numerous new biotopes being proposed independently for similar data and, as such, losing cohesion within the classification community. The deep-sea section is available for all users of the JNCC classification including the private sector.

 

This paper will outline categories for environmental factors, broad community types and specific biological assemblages to be used in the classification of deep-sea habitats. The deep-sea classification outlined in this paper builds on previous work undertaken at a EUNIS deep-sea workshop held at Plymouth University in April 2010, work undertaken at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Southampton to assign biotopes to deep-sea grab data from the Faroe-Shetland Channel region (Bett 2012), and two unpublished JNCC papers (Jenkins 2012; Parry 2013), which considered options for the overall structure of a deep-sea classification. The proposed broad communities and biotopes have been developed as a result of two contracts run by JNCC to look at patterns in infaunal and epifaunal deep-sea communities (Nickell et al 2013; Piechaud & Howell 2013). Broad trends identified in these contracts have also guided proposed categories for environmental factors. The final deep-sea section was agreed following a further expert workshop at JNCC in April 2014, and this paper has been reviewed by a wider group of deep-sea specialists.

 

It is hoped that the new deep-sea biotopes will be considered for inclusion in the upcoming revision of EUNIS to ensure classification within the UK is consistent with the approach taken at the European scale.

 
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ISSN 0963-8901
 
Please cite as: Parry, M.E.V., Howell, K.L., Narayanaswamy, B.E., Bett, B.J., Jones, D.O.B., Hughes, D.J., Piechaud, N., Nickell, T.D., Ellwood, H., N. Askew, N., Jenkins, C. & Manca, E., (2015), A Deep-sea Section for the Marine Habitat Classification of Britain and Ireland, JNCC Report 530, ISSN 0963-8901