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


Indicators derived from species, communities and habitats within rock and biogenic reefs that are currently in use are reviewed as a contribution to the Healthy and Biologically Diverse Seas Evidence Group (HBDSEG) Assessment in continuation of work carried out in 2008 (Langmead et al 2008). This review focuses on those indicators currently in use in statutory monitoring and those developed through research that are in use or have potential monitoring applications.

This assessment process confirms the validity of, or highlights redundancy within, existing indicators in current use in the UK. The scientific review identifies those that are not able to effectively detect a change in state caused by specific pressures or stochastic variation. Economic criteria are subsequently applied to those indicators that are judged to be scientifically robust in order to generate a long-list of recommended indicators specific to the OSPAR pressures list and key aspects of ecosystem structure and function. From this a short list of indicators has been derived and is presented as an effective suite of indicators covering the majority of pressures relevant to rock and biogenic reef habitats.

Over 219 biological indicators of the pressures or state of rocky and biogenic reef habitats are currently employed, and these are presented by specific pressure, together with the monitoring methodology, parameters measured and data collected and whether they can be used to detect change on the structure and functioning of rock and biogenic reef ecosystems.

A gap analysis has been conducted both against pressures and ecosystem structure and function attributes. This revealed important gaps in coverage, especially for climate related pressures but also for many of the key ecosystem function in rocky and biogenic reef systems such as nutrient exchange, salinity and sedimentation. Here we suggest potential indicators to fill these gaps in our knowledge.

While many of the indicators here are highly specific to pressures (contaminants), the majority of the higher organisational level indicators (state and ecosystem structure/function) respond to a variety of pressures and so attributing cause and effect to a single pressure or activity is much more difficult (especially since these pressures may not be operating in isolation e.g. the shifting baseline of climate is manifest across our seas).

Accompanying the report are a series of Excel spreadsheets:

  • Pressures report (MyGapMatrixPressuresReport.xls).
  • Structure function report (MyGapMatrixESStructureFunctionReport.xls).
  • Details of the indicators that have been ‘Accepted’ into the effective indicator set and the ‘Reasons for decision’ (Currentindicators&assessment_v5.xls).

Resource type Publication

Topic category Oceans

Reference date 2010··

Mieszkowska, N. and Langmead, O. 2010. Healthy & Biologically Diverse Seas Evidence Group Technical Report Series: Evaluation and gap analysis of current and potential indicators for Rock and Biogenic Reef 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 2020·05·15

Metadata point of contact
Communications, JNCC

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