Biodiv Sci ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (4): 531-544.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2020176

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Progress in marine habitat mapping: Concept, methods, and applications

Wenjia Hu1,3, Qiulin Zhou1, Bin Chen1,3,*(), Shengyun Yang2, Jiamei Xiao2, Jianguo Du1,3, Hao Huang1,3, Weiwei Yu1,3, Zhiyuan Ma1,3   

  1. 1 Third Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources, Xiamen, Fujian 361005
    2 College of Oceanic and Earth, Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian 361005
    3 Fujian Provincial Key Laboratory of Marine Ecological Conservation and Restoration, Xiamen, Fujian 361005
  • Received:2020-04-29 Accepted:2020-08-18 Online:2021-04-20 Published:2021-04-20
  • Contact: Bin Chen
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Context: The ecological boundaries rather than the administrative boundaries are adopted in the Marine Ecosystem- Based Management (MEBM) guide to management practices. Marine habitat mapping aims to explore the distribution patterns of the marine environment, biomes, and species. This provides ecological boundaries for management actions like biodiversity conservation and marine spatial planning.

Aims: Marine habitat mapping is an effective approach in using monitoring data for decision-making, which has become popular for research focused on marine ecosystem conservation and management. However, marine habitat mapping has only just begun in China. This article aims at reviewing domestic and foreign research progress of marine habitat mapping.

Progresses: First, we explain the definition and connotation of marine habitat mapping. Then, we clarify the steps of marine habitat mapping and its applications for ecosystem-based management. The methods for marine habitat mapping were systematically summarized based on the aspects of habitat classification scheme, ecoregion delineation, and characteristics descriptions. Furthermore, we summarize the representative marine habitat mapping cases. By comparing the marine habitat mapping systems developed by different countries/regions, we proposed common characteristics across different systems. Finally, we present suggestions in interpreting the prospects of marine habitat mapping applications in China, providing scientific basis for China’s marine ecological spatial management.

Key words: habitat mapping, marine spatial planning, habitat classification, ecological regions