Species, Habitats and Ecosystems

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In marine environments the most effective planning approach is to focus on marine ecosystems and the ecological processes that sustain them. This presumes that the conservation of representative ecosystems will also conserve the diversity of species found in these ecosystems. Examples include rock platforms that support tide pools, and estuarine habitats that serve as surrogates for invertebrate diversity. A robust classification scheme to identify the different types of ecosystems is critical for selecting conservation targets. Where possible classification schemes should be based on biological data, but in the marine environment surrogate data is usually required, such as landform, slope and wave energy. We have developed methods for constructing regional shoreline and benthic habitat types. Those method descriptions can be found in Conserve Online and the Conservation by Design Gateway.

We identified and mapped 441 targets, with 171 in the terrestrial and 270 in the coastal and marine areas. This shows that similar system or taxon information was identified in both land and sea environments depending on whether a specific target occurred above or below the mean water line. In most cases a coastal species was considered as marine, though some supratidal and marine riparian vegetation was considered terrestrial. Click on the thumbnail images to view the summary and full Targets tables.

Click to download the pdf.

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These targets have been stratified into subregions to be sure all the diversity is represented. The subregions in the marine environment were delineated based on physical parameters including bathymetry, currents, salinity and sea surface temperature. With stratification we are primarily trying to:

  • represent unknown biodiversity (e.g. possible genetic variation in species or community level variation in ecosystems)
  • spread sites out to avoid local catastrophes (i.e. spread risk, ensure replication)

For this analysis we examined 769 stratified targets across the land/sea interface.

Species, Habitats and Ecosystem Mapping

Benthic habitat types were modeled from information on bathymetry, geomorphology, and substrate.


Using bathymetric information we derived areas of complex rocky substrate as a surrogate for marine fish diversity that utilize this habitat type.

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