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Biological value estimation is based on a set of assessment questions and several thresholds to delineate areas of ecological importance (e.g. biodiversity). An existing framework, that was specifically designed to assess the ecosystem biodiversity, was expanded by adding new questions on the productivity, functionality and biogeochemical status of benthic habitats. The additional ecological and sedimentological information was collected by using sediment profile imagery (SPI) and grab sampling. Additionally, information on the performance and comparability of both techniques is provided in this study. The research idea was tested at a site near the harbor of Zeebrugge, an area under consideration as a new disposal site for dredged material from the harbor entrance.
The sedimentology of the area can be adequately described based on the information from both SPI and Van Veen grab samples, but only the SPI revealed structural information on the physical habitat (layering, a-RPD). The latter information represented the current status of the benthic habitat, which was confirmed by the Van Veen grab samples. All information was summarized through the biological valuation framework, and provided clear evidence of the differences in biological value for the different sediment types within the area. We concluded that the installation of a new dredged material disposal site in this area was not in conflict with the benthic ecology. This area has a low biological value and the benthic system is adapted to changing conditions, which was signaled by the dominance of mobile, short living and opportunistic species.
This study showed that suitable sedimentological and ecological information can be gathered by these traditional and complementary techniques, to estimate the biological value of an area in the light of marine spatial planning and environmental impact assessments.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sea Research
Volume86
Pages (from-to)1-12
ISSN1385-1101
Publication statusPublished - 1-Feb-2014

ID: 1845973