Highly dynamic biological seabed alterations revealed by side scan sonar tracking of Lanice conchilega beds offshore the island of Sylt (German Bight).

Heinrich, C., Feldens, P. and Schwarzer, Klaus (2017) Highly dynamic biological seabed alterations revealed by side scan sonar tracking of Lanice conchilega beds offshore the island of Sylt (German Bight). Geo-Marine Letters, 37 (3). pp. 289-303. DOI 10.1007/s00367-016-0477-z.

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Hydroacoustic surveys are common tools for habitat investigation and monitoring that aid in the realisation of the aims of the EU Marine Directives. However, the creation of habitat maps is difficult, especially when benthic organisms densely populate the seafloor. This study assesses the sensitivity of entropy and homogeneity image texture parameters derived from backscatter strength data to benthic habitats dominated by the tubeworm Lanice conchilega. Side scan sonar backscatter surveys were carried out in 2010 and 2011 in the German Bight (southern North Sea) at two sites approx. 20 km offshore of the island of Sylt. Abiotic and biotic seabed facies, such as sorted bedforms, areas of fine to medium sand and L. conchilega beds with different tube densities, were identified and characterised based on manual expert analysis and image texture analysis. Ground truthing was performed by grab sampling and underwater video observations. Compared to the manual expert analysis, the k-means classification of image textures proves to be a semi-automated method to investigate small-scale differences in a biologically altered seabed from backscatter data. The texture parameters entropy and homogeneity appear linearly interrelated with tube density, the former positively and the latter negatively. Reinvestigation of one site after 1 year showed an extensive change in the distribution of the L. conchilega-altered seabed. Such marked annual fluctuations in L. conchilega tube cover demonstrate the need for dense time series and high spatial coverage to meaningfully monitor ecological patterns on the seafloor with acoustic backscatter methods in the study region and similar settings worldwide, particularly because the sand mason plays a pivotal role in promoting biodiversity. In this context, image texture analysis provides a cost-effective and reproducible method to track biologically altered seabeds from side scan sonar backscatter signatures.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Image Texture German Bight Bedforms Backscatter Intensity Acoustic Backscatter
Research affiliation: Kiel University > Kiel Marine Science
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R11
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1007/s00367-016-0477-z
ISSN: 0276-0460
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2018 11:01
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 09:01
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/42010

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