The programme topic covers monitoring of benthic ecosystem elements. Monitoring is focused on biological aspects and selected species, however information on physical and chemical parameters such as substrate type, grain size, amount of organic matter, temperature, salinity and oxygen/hydrogen sulphide are also included.
The hard-bottom monitoring is predominantly done in coastal waters, where the monitoring concept has been developed for the EU WFD. However, in some countries hard-bottom monitoring is also targeted for the EU Habitats Directive. The monitoring includes mainly macroalgae, but in some areas also blue mussels.
The HELCOM core indicator 'Population structure of long-lived macrozoobenthic species' is linked to this sub-programme as it includes size distribution of hardbottom dwelling blue mussels. The pre-core indicator 'Lower depth distribution limit of macrophyte species' is also linked, as macroalgae are an essential part of photic hard bottoms.
The soft-bottom macrofauna has been
monitored in the Baltic Sea since 1960s. The monitoring uses the
HELCOM COMBINE methods in the offshore areas, while slightly modified methods
have been developed for the coastal waters for EU WFD monitoring purposes.
The HELCOM core indicators 'State of the soft-bottom macrofauna communities',
measuring Benthic Quality Indices (BQIs), and Population structure of long-lived macrozoobenthic species', measuring size distribution of species of burrowing bivalves, are
linked to monitoring being carried out under this sub-programme.
Monitoring of the soft-bottom vegetation
includes mainly eelgrass monitoring, but also charophytes and some freshwater
plant species, such as Potamogeton spp., have been included in the monitoring
and in some countries the entire species assemblage is being monitored along
transects. The monitoring focuses on coastal waters and various national indicators
have been developed for the EU WFD assessments. The HELCOM pre-core indicator 'Lower depth distribution limit of macrophyte species' is linked to monitoring
under this sub-programme as representative soft bottom species might become
State and Conservation
Contact information: HELCOM Secretariat