Monitoring programme: Biodiversity - Seabed habitats
Programme topic: Benthic community species distribution and abundance

Sub-programme: hardbottom species

 

​table of contentS

Regional coordination

Purpose of monitoring

Monitoring concepts table

Assessment requirements

Data providers and access

References


REgional Coordination

The monitoring of this sub-programme is: not coordinated.

The monitoring of macroalgae follows national methods which have been developed for national EU WFD assessments. Development of a basis for coordinated assessment, including monitoring,  focused on identifying parameters and indicators which are not already bound by national legislation and also on identifying the most relevant spatial scales for assessments in the marine area. The development took place under the HELCOM CORESET II project and considered parameters included various specific macroalgae parameters as well as blue mussel coverage. When core indicators are developed, the discrepancies in methods and elements monitored by countries need to be considered.


Purpose of monitoring (q4K)

Follow up of progress towards:

Baltic Sea Action Plan​ (BSAP) ​ ​ ​Segments ​Biodiversity
Eutrophication
​Ecological objectives

​​Clear water
Natural distribution and occurrence of plants and animals
Natural landscapes and seascapes
Thriving and balanced communities of plants and animals

Marine strategy framework directive (MSFD) ​ ​ ​Descriptors ​​D1 Biodiversity
D2 Non-indigenous speices
D5 Eutrophication
D6 Seafloor integrity
​Criteria (Q5a)

1.1 Species distribution
1.4 Habitat distribution
1.5 Habitat extent
1.7 Ecosystem structure
2.1. Abundance and state characterisation of non-indigenous species

5.3 Indirect effects of nutrient enrichment
6.1 Physical damage, having regard to substrate characteristics

​Features (Q5c)
Biological features:
A description of the biological communities associated with the predominant seabed and water column habitats.
Information on angiosperms, macro-algae and invertebrate bottom fauna, including species composition, biomass and annual/seasonal variability.
Other relevant legislation (Q8a)
​Habitats Directive
Water Framework Directive


 

Assessment of: (Q4k)
State/Impacts ​​X temporal trends,
spatial distribution,

status classification
Pressures
Human activities
causing the pressures
Effectiveness of measures

Scale of data aggregation for assessments: (Q10a)
HELCOM assessment unit Level 1: Baltic Sea
​HELCOM assessment unit Level 2: Subbasin
HELCOM assessment unit Level 3: Subbasins with coastal and offshore division​ ​​
HELCOM assessment unit Level 4: Subbasins with coastal WFD division X


Monitoring concepts table

Coordination Elements
Q9a (Q5c)
Parameter
Q9a (Q5c)
Method
Q9c, Q9d
QA/QC
Q9e, 9f
Frequency
Q9h, 9i
Spatial resolution
Q9g, 9i
Link to HELCOM core indicators Link to
MSFD GES characteristics

Q5b 
Spatial scope
Q4i
Monitoring started
Q4h
CPs monitoring

National

Macroalgae

Areal extent of habitat

National methods

National

Yearly

Covering a couple of waterbodies per water type (by several transects per waterbody) PL: No
monitoring in coastal waters, only  open
sea.

-

1.5.1 Habitat area

WFD CW


 


 

DE, DK, EE, FI, LT, PL, SE

National

Blue mussels

Areal extent of habitat

National methods

National

Yearly

Covering a couple of waterbodies per water type (by several transects per waterbody)

-

1.5.1 Habitat area

WFD CW


 

FI, SE

National

Blue mussels

Population size (abundance)

National methods

National

Yearly

Selected mussel reefs per sub-basin

-

1.6.2 Relative abundance and/or biomass

WFD CW


 

FI, SE


 

​National

​Blue mussels

Size of individuals (length or weight)

National methods

​National

​Yearly

Selected mussel reefs per sub-basin

Population structure of long-lived macrozoobenthic species

​1.6.2 Relative abundance and/or biomass

6.2.4 Parameters describing the characteristics of the size spectrum of the benthic community

​WFD CW

​FI

​National

Macroalgae (Fucus)

Species distributional range/pattern

Assessment of depth limits by video recording or diving along transects

​National

​Yearly

One or several ”samples” (=locations) per WFD water body with 5 replicates per sample/location

​Lower depth distribution limit of macrophyte species (pre-core indicator)

​1.4.1 Distributional range

1.4.2 Distributional pattern

​WFD CW

​2006

​DE, FI, SE, EE, DK, LV, LT

​National

Macroalgae

Species abundance (biomass)

Sampling by divers in certain depth levels and assessment of species specific dry weight in the laboratory

​National

​Yearly

One or several ”samples” (=locations) per WFD water body with 5 replicates per sample/location

Lower depth distribution limit of macrophyte species (pre-core indicator)

​1.6.2 Relative abundance and/or biomass

​WFD CW

​2006

​DE

​National

​Macroalgae

Species abundance (numbers or cover)

Sampling by divers in certain depth levels and assessment of species specific cover in the field

​National

​Yearly

One or several ”samples” (=locations) per WFD water body with 5 replicates per sample/location

Lower depth distribution limit of macrophyte species (pre-core indicator)

​1.5.1 Habitat area

​WFD CW

​2006

​DE, FI, SE, EE, DK, LV, LT

​National ​Macroalgae Species present (whole community or selected species only) Sampling by divers in certain depth levels and assessment of species specific cover estimations in the field and dry weight in the laboratory ​National ​Yearly One or several ”samples” (=locations) per WFD water body with 5 replicates per sample/location ​Extent of benthic biotopes (pre-core indicator) ​1.6.2 Relative abundance and/or biomass WFD CW ​2006 ​DE, FI
​National ​All macrozoobentos species ​Species present, abundance and biomass Sampling by divers ​National ​4 yearly and other 12 at least once per 6 years ​- ​WFD water bodies ​1995 ​EE



Brief description of monitoring

Detailed information on monitoring frequency and spatial resolution has not yet been collected from all countries but will be added.


​Element / parameter
Macroalgae/Areal extent (lower depth limit of the selected species, such as Fucus vesiculosus, Furcellaria lumbricalis, Polysiphonia fucoides, Rhodomela confervoides and Phyllophora pseudoceranoides).
Macroalgae/Species abundance (numbers or cover)
Macroalgae/Species abundance (biomass)
Macroalgae/Species present (whole community or selected species only)

​Method

​Depth limit is determined in line transects at selected locations along depth gradient (across the currently existing depth limit of the species, not the whole depth range) with a towed video sledge or by divers.

Cover estimations are made by divers at fixed stations, at specified depth intervals (densest part of the vegetation biotope) in an area of 20-25m2 and within frames (0.25m2), frames with 5 replicates per location. The cover estimate includes all species (or other relevant taxa) that are identifiable under water and for non-identifiable species samples are collected. The cover estimate can exceed 100% if the macrophytes grow in several layers.

Biomass- and taxonomic determinations are done in laboratories on samples collected by divers at fixed stations at specified depth intervals (densest parts of the vegetation biotope) in frames (0.0625m2) with 5 replicates per location.

In Poland sampling by divers is done at fixed stations (points), where three replicate samples are collected with (0.25 m2) per each depth interval.

QA/QC National
Frequency Varies between countries:
Yearly (79%, n=277, DE, DK, EE, LT, PL, SE)
Every 3rd year (13%, n=46, EE, FI, LT, SE)
Every 6th year (6%, n=21, DK)
Twice per year (2%, n=7, PL).
Spatial Scope -
Spatial resolution

​As hard substrate is scarce along the German coastline, often only one or two locations with macroalgae in sufficient density per water body, the rationale is often to sample where sampling is possible.

In the northern Baltic Sea, hard-bottom monitoring sites are designed to cover at least the coastal water types, where representative water bodies are selected (3-5 replicate sites per monitoring area).

In Finnish waters the sites are selected to include bladder wrack, red algae and blue mussels (if feasible).

In Poland there is no monitoring in coastal waters, only in the open sea areas. There are only 2 transect locations in transitional waters and 4 locations in open sea stations.

 

​Element / parameter
Blue mussel/Areal extent (optimum depth limit of the blue mussel zone)
Blue mussel/Population abundance (density)
Blue mussels (size of individuals)
​Method In Finland monitoring is planned to start in 2015. The method for abundance has been suggested, while the method for size measurements is under development.
QA/QC National
Frequency In Finland 1-2/6 years
Spatial Scope WFD CW
Spatial resolution In the northern Baltic Sea, hard-bottom monitoring sites are designed to cover selected sites along the coast. In the Finnish waters, the sites are selected to include bladder wrack, red algae and blue mussels (if available).


 

assessmenT REQUIREMENTS

Monitoring requirements and gaps

Monitoring is to be carried out to fulfill assessment requirements of HELCOM ecological objectives that are specified through HELCOM core indicators. T The requirements on monitoring can include number of stations, the sampling frequency and replication.

Monitoring
requirements
An appropriate assessment of the state of the hard-bottom fauna and flora along the coast requires monitoring in several coastal waterbodies. Each coastal waterbody should be monitored with a few transects, in order to decrease the impact of natural variation in the assessment.

In sites meant for status classification, it is enough to carry out the monitoring every 3rd year. In sites meant for detecting temporal change, annual monitoring is required in order to create reliable time series data. For macroalgae, monitoring is to be carried out during the summer months, the exact timing depending on biogeographical characteristics (may be different in the southern and northern areas of the Baltic Sea).

The small-scale spatial variation in substrate can potentially affect the measurement outcome, and has to be considered in monitoring of macroalgae depth limits, thus an area of circa 25-49 sqm should optimally be considered in a monitoring location. This can be achieved, for example, by diving horizontally along the lower depth limit of the selected species.

​Gaps ​​The main gap in current monitoring of macroalgae is the lack of common methodology for sampling and analysis. The areal coverage of the macroalgae monitoring is quite extensive and the temporal frequency of the sampling is adequate.

Blue mussel monitoring is not done in many countries and there has been no coordination in the method development. In Finland, blue mussel monitoring will start in 2015 in selected sites where macroalgae are currently monitored.

In Germany only a few sites are suitable to assess the depth limit of macrophyte species on hardbottom substrates and the substrate availability is not sufficient to follow the depth gradient in sufficient detail. Suitable sites may exist outside the WFD CW area (1sm zone) in low numbers, but they are currently not monitored although monitoring is planned. Species composition, biomass and cover are not monitored continuously along the depth gradient, only at certain depth intervals, which were identified as appropriate for WFD purposes.


 
Adequacy for assessment of GES (Q5d)

Monitoring should provide adequate data and information  to enable the periodic assessment of environmental status, and distance from and progress towards GES as required by MSFD under Article 9 and 11.

​Adequate data?​
Yes for eutrophication. No for biodiversity
Established methods for assessment? ​Yes
​Adequate understanding of GES? ​​Yes
Adequate capacity to perform assessments? ​​Yes for eutrophication. No for biodiversity


 
Assessment of natural variability (Q5e)

Quantitative. For hard-bottom parameters correlation with water quality parameters is high, however the data resolution produced through monitoring may in some instances be too low to produce statistically significant correlations.​ Hard bottom parameters can be used to assess GES both from the perspective of  biodiversity and eutrophication. The effect of natural variability on the assessment confidence can be reduced by sampling in ​3-5 replicate sites close to each other within a same coastal water type. The macroalgae indicators are intercalibrated with neighbouring countries (within same water types) in order to have comparable status classification.


Data providers and access

​Data access point
​National databases
Data type (Q10c)

Data availability (Q10c)​

​Data access (Q10c)

​INSPIRE standard (Q10c)

When will data become available? (Q10c)

Data update frequency (Q10c)
Every 6th years
Describe how the data and information from the programmewill be made accessible to the EC/EEA
​​Contact points in the Contracting parties Contact point to national monitoring programmes will be added
​Has the data been used in HELCOM assessments?
Partly


 

REFERENCES

Osowiecki A., Łysiak-Pastuszak E., Kruk-Dowgiałło L., Brzeska P., Błeńska M., Kraśniewski W., Lewandowski Ł., Krzymiński W. 2010. An index-based preliminary assessment of the ecological status in the Polish marine areas of the Baltic Sea. Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on Research and management of Eutrophication in Coastal Ecosystems. 15-18 June 2010. Nyborg, Denmark. pp. 11-12.

Ruuskanen A (2014) Development and description of the Finnish Macrophyte Index (FMI). A report by Monivesi Oy, Ordered by Finnish Environment Institute. 39 pages.

Schories D, Selig U, Schubert H. 2006. Testung des Klassifi zierungsansatzes Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (innere Küstengewässer) unter den Bedingungen Schleswig-Holsteins und Ausdehnung des Ansatzes auf die Außenküste. Küstengewässer-Klassifi zierung deutsche Ostsee nach EU-WRRL. Teil A: Äußere Küstengewässer.

Steinhardt et al. (2009) The German procedure for the assessment of ecological status in relation to the biological quality element "Macroalgae & Angiosperms" pursuant to the WFD for inner coastal waters of the Baltic Sea. Rostocker Meeresbiol. Beiträge Heft 22.