Monitoring programme: Biodiversity - Seabed habitatsProgramme topic: Seabed habitat distribution and extent
The monitoring of this sub-programme is: partly coordinated.
Common monitoring guidelines: Partly in HELCOM COMBINE manual and also national.
Common quality assurance programme: Partly in HELCOM COMBINE manual and also national.
Common database: missing.
Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP)
Natural landscapes and seascapes
Marine strategy framework directive (MSFD)
D1 BiodiversityD6 Seafloor integrity
1.4 Habitat distribution1.5 Habitat extent1.6 Habitat condition6.1 Physical damage, having regard to substrate characteristics6.2 Condition of benthic community
Physical and chemical features:Topography and bathymetry of the seabedHabitat types:The predominant seabed and water column habitat type(s) with a description of the characteristic physical and chemical features, such as depth, water temperature regime, currents and other water movements, salinity, structure and substrata composition of the seabed.
Identification and mapping of special habitat types, especially those recognized or identified under Community legislation (the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive) or international conventions as being of special scientific or biodiversity interest.
Habitats in areas which by virtue of their characteristics, location or strategic importance merit a particular reference.
Full description on monitoring, some of the relevant parameters, such as macrozoobenthos, in
HELCOM COMBINE manual. Detailed information on monitoring frequency and spatial resolution has not yet been collected from all countries, but the information will be added.
Macroalgae / Species abundance
Angiosperms / Species distribution
Soft-bottom macrofauna / Population size
Drop video mapping, diving and the
HELCOM COMBINE manual.
Information on SE methods currently being used in the
national MSFD Artice 11 report (sub-programme Makrovegetation): https://www.havochvatten.se/download/18.203ea9d8149410b71c24d73b/1415008228827/rapport-2014-20-god-havsmiljo-2020-del-3-overvakningsprogram.pdf
HELCOM COMBINE manual
Macroalgae by drop videos / Macroalgae by drop videos
In Finland the monitoring has not started, however baseline mapping of the macroalgae distribution by drop video, diver transects and modeling has been carried out since 2004. The method for monitoring has been suggested.
Angiosperms by drop videos / Angiosperms by drop videos
In Finland the monitoring has not started, however baseline mapping of the angiosperm distribution by drop video, diver transects and modeling has been carried out since 2004. The method for monitoring has been suggested.
Monitoring is to be carried out to fulfill assessment requirements of HELCOM ecological objectives that are specified through HELCOM core indicators. The requirements on monitoring can
include number of stations, the sampling frequency and replication.
The HELCOM core indicators direcly linked to the sub-programme are still at a pre-core indicator stage of development. Creating specifications for monitoring requirements is a part of the development work of the indicators.
The monitoring of habitat-forming species and substrates focuses on covering wide sea areas with the purpose of providing data on extent and distribution. However, the data can also include parameters that enable state classification based on the condition of habitat-forming species. Monitoring of extent and distribution of habitat-forming species and substrates, require spatial methods such as drop video, aerial surveys (aeroplanes, satellites, remote helicopters), multiple diving transects, randomized grab samples, multibeam sonars or different combinations of these methods. As the primary focus of monitoring is not in detecting temporal change but spatial status (at certain time intervals), the monitoring frequency can be every 3 to 6 years.
The quality and quantity dimensions of habitat change are traditionally considered when assessing the status of habitats. There are hardly any operational methods used to estimate the quantity of a selected habitat that would also be useful for monitoring habitat extent (area or volume). To monitor habitat extent and describe the change of habitat extent or size statistically, methods that fully cover selected areas, delineate habitat boundaries, or use a large number of point observations may be used. There are several examples of methods that could qualify for this type of monitoring, including those applied on seagrass meadows being repeatedly mapped using aqua scope, video or remote sensing.
Although benthic monitoring for macrofauna and macrophytes is carried out within the COMBINE monitoring, no coordinated monitoring for habitat distribution and extent currently exists. Joint methods and guidelines will need to be agreed upon to provide data for the core indicators.
There is very little monitoring data on the distribution of habitat-forming species currently available, whereas station or transect-based monitoring of the specific species is carried out in all the Baltic Sea countries. The latter cannot be directly used for assessing extent and distribution, as the monitoring is primarily designed to follow changes in habitat condition in specific locations.
Periodically mapping the bathymetry and distribution of geological substrates is included in monitoring/inventory programmes in all the countries.
No commonly agreed monitoring methods are in place, which target the extent and quality of the benthic habitats in the Baltic Sea. The 'drop-video' technique in combination with traditional methods used for characterizing benthic communities (grab sampling, SCUBA diving) could be a promising and cost-effective solution at least for certain habitats. The need for joint and standardized monitoring methods/guidelines in the whole Baltic Sea area should be discussed and agreed, considering the diversity of natural conditions, environmental gradients as well as different reporting obligations.
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.
Assessment of natural variability (Q5e)Qualitative. The borders of habitats and biotopes are naturally a continuum, which must be considered when assessing the dirstibution, extent and pattern of a biotope.
HELCOM (2013) HELCOM Underwater Biotope and habitat classification system (HELCOM HUB)