Journal Article

Acoustic seabed classification of marine habitats: studies in the western coastal-shelf area of Portugal

Rosa Freitas, Susana Silva, Victor Quintino, Ana Maria Rodrigues, Karl Rhynas and William T Collins

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 60, issue 3, pages 599-608
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Acoustic seabed classification of marine habitats: studies in the western coastal-shelf area of Portugal

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Two single-beam, seabed-classification systems, QTC VIEW Series IV and QTC VIEW Series V, were used to identify and map biosedimentary gradients in a mid-shelf area off Western Portugal. The survey area has a moderate slope, a depth ranging from 30 to 90 m along a 3.5-km axis perpendicular to the shoreline, and is characterized by smooth sedimentary and biological gradients. Ground truth for sediment grain size and macrofaunal communities was based on grab sampling at 20 sites. The sedimentary and biological data were analysed using classification and ordination techniques. The acoustic data were analysed with qtc impact software and classified into acoustic classes. The affinity groups obtained in each data set were mapped using a Geographics Information System. All showed good agreement and identified prevailing gradients along a northwest–southeast direction. Three acoustic classes were identified, corresponding to the predominant sediment types, namely fine sand with low silt and clay content, silty, very fine sand, and mud. A close relationship with benthic communities was also verified, although less marked because benthic communities continuously change along the northwest–southeast gradient. Overall, the acoustic system coupled with ground-truthing data was able to discriminate and characterize the various benthic biotopes in the survey area.

Keywords: acoustic seabed classification; benthic biotopes; coastal shelf; habitat mapping; Portugal; QTC VIEW

Journal Article.  4309 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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