Habitat suitability models

Completed: October 2004 - September 2008

Macrobenthos (animals >1 mm which live in the substrate) is a major food source for fish and seabirds. Macrobenthos (e.g. bivalves, bristle worms, small crustaceans, ) is the best-known ecosystem component of the seafloor and is used very frequently in environmental impact studies. The occurrence of macrobenthic species is strongly linked with the physico-chemical environmental variables. Macrobenthos grab sampling is very time consuming and consists of only point observations, while environmental variables are often sampled at a higher
resolution.

When the relationship between environmental variables and the occurrence of macrobenthos species can be modelled successfully, it will be possible to predict the occurrence of macrobenthos from environmental variables. The developed models can be regarded as habitat suitability models. The occurrence of macrobenthic species is predicted from the suitability of the physical habitat, measured as a number of environmental variables.

The general goal of this model is to quantify the relation between physical environmental variables and the distribution of macrobenthic species. During the model development a methodology will be developed, which can be used in similar modelling studies.

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