Seamap Australia classification scheme

Classification is a means for seafloor habitat data to be collated and grouped into meaningful and consistent categories. 

In the marine environment, seafloor mapping and the application of a consistent, robust classification is the essential foundation on which to build the tools required for effective marine management.

The Seamap Australia classification layers together living, non-living, and contextual components to define a seabed habitat.

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Seamap Australia classification overview

Biogeographic Setting

The Biogeographic Setting describe variation in biological communities across broad latitudinal and longitudinal gradients.

These variations are functions of climatic, geologic and evolutionary processes.

Aquatic Setting

The Aquatic Setting describes the freshwater influence, geomorphology, depth, tidal regime, and benethic light environment.

Biotic Component

The Biotic Component uses broad phylogenetic and taxonomic groups to describe living biota attached or closely associated with the seafloor. This can be any benthic plant, alga, or animal.

Substratum Component

Seamap Australia’s Substratum Component classification describes the surface of any non-living material upon or within which biota can attach and grow.

Substratum Origin

Seamap Australia’s Substratum Origin classification describes the the origin (or composition) of the substratum.

The case for classification.

In the last decade there has been significant investment to collect seabed habitat data around the nation by each State and Territory. Government agencies, often in collaboration with university researchers, hold valuable data products that are of use for a variety of purposes in areas including marine management and resource assessment. However, whilst the level of interest in and need for these datasets has grown significantly over the last 4-5 years, access to them is often difficult. The datasets are scattered throughout numerous agencies and institutions Australia-wide, information is often limited and difficult to find, and the use of multiple datasets can be hindered by disparate data collection and inconsistent classification methods.

Based on the disparate nature of the spatial benthic marine data collated from across the country, the need to develop a nationally consistent benthic marine habitat classification scheme was clear.

Enter Seamap Australia

The report that Seamap Australia is founded upon details a review of existing international and national classification schemes, and proposes a nationally extensive benthic habitat classification for Australia. It includes an explanation of the mechanisms for the choice of classes and hierarchical structure.
A copy of the report can be downloaded below.


Download the report

Seamap Australia [Version 1.0] the development of a national benthic marine classification scheme for the Australian continental shelf

View the registered classification scheme

The Seamap Australia benthic habitat classification scheme is registered on: Research Vocabularies Australia

Citing Seamap Australia and associated reports.

Butler, C., Lucieer, V., Walsh, P., Flukes., E and Johnson, C (2017) Seamap Australia [Version 1.0] the development of a national benthic marine classification scheme for the Australian continental shelf. Final Report to the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) High Values Collection #19. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania. 52 pgs.