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Overview

Providing a benthic habitat classification manual, a benthic habitat map for the nearshore waters of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and supplemental geospatial data.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Ocean Service acquired aerial photographs for the nearshore waters of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1999. These images were used to create maps of the region's coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove forests, and other important habitats. A primary product of this project is a benthic habitat map. This document describes the specific methods used to create this map.

Twenty-one distinct benthic habitat types within eight zones were mapped directly into a geographic information system (GIS) using visual interpretation of orthorectified aerial photographs (see pie charts below). Benthic features were mapped that covered an area of 1600 km2 in Puerto Rico and 490 km2 in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In Puerto Rico, 49 km2 of unconsolidated sediment, 721 km2 of submerged vegetation, 73 km2 of mangroves, and 756 km2 of coral reef and colonized hardbottom were mapped. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, 24 km2 of unconsolidated sediment, 161 km2 of submerged vegetation, 2 km2 of mangroves, and 300 km2 of coral reef and hard bottom were mapped. To see or download this information, visit NOAA's Biogeography Program.

This document will show data users how the data was collected and help them replicate the data for comparison purposes at a later date. Document contents include:

  • A description of each of the habitat classifications with example aerial and underwater photographs

  • Directions for using the "habitat digitizer" extension in ArcView

  • A description of the specific methods used to create the habitat maps

  • An assessment of the thematic accuracy of the maps along with a comparison of map accuracy relative to other mapping techniques.

 

Citation for this document:
Kendall, M.S.1, M.E. Monaco1, K.R. Buja1, J.D. Christensen1, C.R. Kruer2, and M. Finkbeiner3, R.A. Warner1. 2001. (On-line). Methods Used to Map the Benthic Habitats of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands URL: http://biogeo.nos.noaa.gov/projects/mapping/caribbean/startup.htm. Also available on U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science Biogeography Program. 2001. (CD-ROM).Benthic Habitats of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Silver Spring, MD: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

  1. NOAA National Ocean Service, Biogeography Branch; N/SCI 1, SSMC4; 1305 East West Highway; Silver Spring, MD 20910
  2. P.O. Box 753; Sheridan, MT 59749
  3. NOAA Coastal Services Center, 2234 South Hobson Avenue; Charleston, SC 29405