Working Group on Marine Habitat Mapping (WGMHM)

Julian Burgos, Flemming Thorbjørn Hansen, Helen Lillis, James Strong

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The 2019 meeting of the Working Group on Marine Habitat Mapping (WGMHM) was held jointly with the Working Group on Deepwater Ecology (WGDEC). The primary objective for the WGMHM was to provide information and guidance on how Predictive Habitat Model (PHM) techniques can support the work of ICES, and specially the WGDEC, on the estimation of where Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) are likely to occur in the North Atlantic (see WGMHM work plan for year 2).
The main recommendations and outputs from WGMHM to WGDEC are: (i) the use of carefully-executed PHMs represents the best possible evidence for assessing the likely distribution of these features when compared with the current methods for plotting point observations of VMEs (which are generally grossly under-sampled); (ii) a WGMHM report describes the background, use and caveats of using PHM for estimations of VME distribution; (iii) detailed advice on the extraction and use of predictor variables that are likely to be relevant for VME prediction; and (iv) a ‘roadmap’ for implementing the PHM. The guidance produced represents a significant step forward towards the adoption of PHM for estimating the distribution of VMEs and providing more robust evidence for assessing the overlap between VMEs and other human activities.
Having highlighted the value of predictive habitat modelling, the roadmap clearly defines the steps required for the implementation of these techniques. These steps include: (i) generating a specification for the modelled outputs so that clear thresholds of resolution and accuracy con-strain the modelling process; (ii) both WGDEC and WGMHM work together again in 2020 to produce a method for modelling VMEs (i.e. agreeing on sources of data for both response and predictor variables, PHM techniques and required validation steps for the modelled outputs); (iii) conduct a trial run for a small number of models to ensure that both the approach and out-puts are fit-for-purpose; and (iv) a period of review to ensure the compatibility of the outputs with subsequent advice drafting analyses.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherInternational Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - 2019
SeriesICES Scientific Report


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