Comparing the information content of coral reef geomorphological and biological habitat maps, Amirantes Archipelago (Seychelles), Western Indian Ocean
Increasing the use of geomorphological map products in marine spatial planning has the potential to greatly enhance return on mapping investment as they are commonly two orders of magnitude cheaper to produce than biologically-focussed maps of benthic communities and shallow substrates. The efficacy of geomorphological maps derived from remotely sensed imagery as surrogates for habitat diversity is explored by comparing two map sets of the platform reefs and atolls of the Amirantes Archipelago (Seychelles), Western Indian Ocean. One mapping campaign utilised Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imagery (19 wavebands, 1 m spatial resolution) to classify 11 islands and associated reefs into 25 biological habitat classes while the other campaign used Landsat 7 þ ETM imagery (7 bands, 30 m spatial resolution) to generate maps of 14 geomorphic classes. The maps were compared across a range of characteristics, including habitat richness (number of classes mapped), diversity (ShannoneWeiner statistic) and thematic content (Cramer’s V statistic). Between maps, a strong relationship was revealed for habitat richness (R2 ¼ 0.76), a moderate relationship for class diversity and evenness (R2 ¼ 0.63) and a variable relationship for thematic content, dependent on site complexity (V range 0.43 e0.93). Geomorphic maps emerged as robust predictors of the habitat richness in the Amirantes. Such maps therefore demonstrate high potential value for informing coastal management activities and conservation planning by drawing on information beyond their own thematic content and thus maximizing the return on mapping investment.
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