Overview

Providing a benthic habitat classification manual, a benthic habitat map for the nearshore waters of the Republic of Palau, and supplemental geospatial data.

Biogeography collage

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Ocean Service (NOS) initiated a coral reef research program in 1999 to map, assess, inventory, and monitor U.S. coral reef ecosystems (Monaco et al. 2001). These activities were implemented in response to requirements outlined in the Mapping Implementation Plan developed by the Mapping and Information Synthesis Working Group (MISWG) of the Coral Reef Task Force (CRTF) (MISWG 1999). As part of the MISWG of the CRTF, NOS' Biogeography Program has been charged with the development and implementation of a plan to produce comprehensive digital coral-reef ecosystem maps for all U.S. States, Territories, and Commonwealths and jurisdictional partners. Joint activities between Federal agencies are particularly important to map, research, monitor, manage, and restore coral reef ecosystems. In response to the Executive Order 13089 and the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000, NOS is conducting research to digitally map biotic resources and coordinate a long-term monitoring program that can detect and predict change in U.S. coral reefs, and their associated habitats and biological communities.

Most U.S. coral reef resources have not been digitally mapped at a scale or resolution sufficient for assessment, monitoring, and/or research to support resource management. Thus, a large portion of NOS' coral reef research activities has focused on mapping of U.S. coral reef ecosystems. The map products will provide the fundamental spatial organizing framework to implement and integrate research programs and provide the capability to effectively communicate information and results to coral reef ecosystem managers. Although the NOS coral program is relatively young, it has had tremendous success in advancing towards the goal to protect, conserve, and enhance the health of U.S. coral reef ecosystems. One objective of the program was to create benthic habitat maps to support coral reef research to enable development of products that support management needs and questions. An initial step in producing benthic habitat maps was the development of a habitat classification scheme. The purpose of this document is to outline the benthic habitat classification scheme and protocols used to map the Republic of Palau.

Palau Coast Thirty-two distinct benthic habitat types (i.e., 4 major and 14 detailed geomorphological structure classes; 8 major and 3 detailed biological cover types) within 13 zones were digitally mapped in GIS (geographic information system) using heads-up visual interpretation of orthorectified IKONOS satellite imagery. Summary results of the mapping effort by habitat mapping class are shown in Tables 1-3. This DVD will provide the user a suite of information including access to the primary and derived data sets, detailed information on how the mapping was conducted and data was collected, custom tools used to create the product, and reports summarizing the results:

  • Access to primary data sources (i.e., IKONOS imagery, accuracy assessment field data, ground validation field data, spatial accuracy field data)
  • Access to derived data sources (i.e., benthic habitat GIS files, final reports, shoreline GIS files)
  • Directions for using the “habitat digitizer” extension in ArcGIS
  • A description of the specific methods used to create the habitat maps
  • An assessment of the thematic accuracy of the maps

To see or download more information about NOAA's Coral Reef Mapping Program, visit NOAA's Biogeography Program

Citation for this document: Battista, T.A., Costa, B.M., and S.M. Anderson, S.M. 2007. Shallow-Water Benthic Habitats of the Republic of Palau (DVD). NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 59, Biogeography Branch. Silver Spring, MD.

The primary funding source for the development of this product was the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program

Table 1: Summary results for Geomorphological Structure
Major Structure Detailed Structure Polygons Area (km2) Perimeter (km) % of Total Benthic Habitats
Coral Reef and Hardbottom Aggregate Reef 1398 106 4005 5.21%
Aggregated Patch Reef 254 299 2098 14.69%
Individual Patch Reef 2525 44 1289 2.18%
Pavement 2470 310 6880 15.20%
Pavement with Sand Channels 40 24 177 1.16%
Rock/Boulder 4 0 11 0.01%
Rubble 347 39 939 1.93%
Scattered Coral/Rock 287 47 803 2.29%
Spur and Groove 96 23 536 1.13%
           
Other Delineations Artificial 64 1 69 0.05%
Land 617 413 1022 n/a
           
Unconsolidated Sediment Mud 335 68 1034 3.34%
Sand 1474 517 4846 25.40%
           
Unknown Unknown 131 558 1658 27.40%
           
  Total (including land) 10042 2450 25367  


Table 2: Summary results for Biological Cover.
Major Cover Detailed Cover Polygons Area (km2) Perimeter (km) % of Total Benthic Habitats
Live Coral 10%-<50% 3423 386 6777 32.29%
50%-<90% 294 18 620 1.47%
90%-100% 11 1 28 0.11%
           
Coralline Algae 10%-<50% 65 18 442 1.49%
50%-<90% 207 45 1062 3.78%
90%-100% 4 0 14 0.03%
           
Emergent Vegetation 10%-<50% 12 0 19 0.04%
50%-<90% 10 1 22 0.10%
90%-100% 152 43 492 3.55%
           
Macroalgae 10%-<50% 745 119 2274 9.92%
50%-<90% 353 149 1447 12.46%
90%-100% 144 59 505 4.89%
           
Seagrass 10%-<50% 176 27 529 2.22%
50%-<90% 161 21 404 1.76%
90%-100% 104 32 411 2.71%
           
Turf 10%-<50% 1039 87 1612 7.24%
50%-<90% 886 98 1770 8.18%
90%-100% 179 11 314 0.95%
           
Uncolonized 10%-<50% 1 0 2 0.00%
50%-<90% 13 1 26 0.07%
90%-100% 1251 362 3849 30.21%
           
Uncolonized Unknown 1 0 2 0.00%
           
Unknown Unknown 130 558 1656 46.64%
           
Unclassified n/a 681 414 1091 n/a
           
  Total (including land) 10042 2450 25367  


Table 3: Summary results for Zone.
Zone Polygons Area (km2) Perimeter (km) % of Total Benthic Habitats
Backreef 1367 341 4683 16.77%
Bank/Shelf 390 98 1387 4.83%
Bank/Shelf Escarpment 33 12 427 0.61%
Channel 190 23 545 1.14%
Dredged 49 2 66 0.11%
Forereef 240 43 1218 2.10%
Lagoon 4616 1255 9880 61.62%
Land 666 414 1073 n/a
Reef Crest 351 23 1181 1.13%
Reef Flat 1317 155 3562 7.62%
Reef Hole 586 15 444 0.75%
Shoreline Intertidal 183 47 572 2.30%
Unclassified 2 0 4 0.00%
Unknown 40 19 167 0.92%
Vertical Wall 12 2 157 0.11%
         
Total (including land) 10042 2449.641 25364.567