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Healthy & Biologically Diverse Seas Evidence Group Technical Report Series: Evaluation and gap analysis of current and potential indicators for Sediment Habitats 2010


The overall aim of this review was to identify the most effective indicators of marine ecosystem state, pressure and impacts to allow a scientifically robust assessment of marine environmental status. This report focusses on intertidal, coastal subtidal (to a depth of 50 m) and shelf (a depth of 50–200 m) sediments. It aims to present an assessment of the applicability of existing indicators, to identify where modifications might be appropriate and to identify significant gaps. As such, it includes indicators of sedimentary conditions in marine, coastal and estuarine areas and biological indicators based on benthic angiosperms, microscopic and macroscopic algae and invertebrates.

A literature review of existing indicators was carried out followed by evaluation and scoring according to a pre-determined set of scientific and economic criteria. This evaluation was carried out using a database created by JNCC. The outputs of this analysis were used to identify gaps in the monitoring where additional indicators may be required. In general, at least one (usually several) indicator of state/impact and/or pressure was identified for each pressure. In contrast, there were significant gaps for ecosystem functioning. Most of the indicators (with the exception of those relating to bioturbation) which related to ecosystem function were only indirect measures for primary and secondary production.

A total of 128 indicators were evaluated, relating to sediment quality, primary and derived indicators relating to the zoobenthos, indicators of the status of saltmarsh, seagrass and macroalage (opportunistic algae and fucoids), indicators of the status, spatial extent and distribution of key habitats and species (characterising, of conservation importance, indicator species and non-indigenous species) and a number of biomarkers. Of these 128 indicators, 115 were automatically recommended by the database output and 100 of these were accepted as valuable indicators, covering all the sedimentary ecosystem components mentioned above, for consideration in routine monitoring.

Accompanying the report are a series of Excel spreadsheets:

  • Appendix 1: Gap matrix for indicators against ecosystem components and pressures.
  • Appendix 2: Gap matrix for indicators against ecosystem structure and function.
  • Appendix 3: Recommended list of indicators.

Resource type Publication

Topic category Oceans

Reference date 2010··

Mazik, K., Boyes, S., McManus, E., Ducrotoy, J-P., Rogers, S. & Elliott, M. 2010. Healthy & Biologically Diverse Seas Evidence Group Technical Report Series: Evaluation and gap analysis of current and potential indicators for Sediment Habitats

As part of the HBDSEG programme of work, a series of reviews of environmental indicators was undertaken, which have been published as part of the HBDSEG Technical Report Series.

Responsible organisation
Communications, JNCC author

Limitations on public access No limitations

Use constraints Available under the Open Government Licence 3.0

Metadata date 2020·06·04

Metadata point of contact
Communications, JNCC

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