Decision Support for Coastal Science and Management
National Park Service Benthic Mapping Protocol Development
The National Park Service (NPS) Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) Program recently allocated funds to initiate a benthic mapping program in ocean and Great Lakes parks in alignment with the NPS Ocean Park Stewardship 2007-2008 Action Plan. Seventy-four (ocean and Great Lakes) parks, spanning more than 5,000 miles of coastline, many affected by coastal storms and other natural and anthropogenic processes, make the development a servicewide benthic mapping program (SBMP) timely. The resulting benthic maps and associated reports will be provided to NPS managers in a consistent servicewide format to help park managers protect and manage the 3 million acres of submerged National Park System natural and cultural resources. Of the 74 ocean and Great Lakes park units, the 40 parks with submerged acreage will be the focus in the early years of the SBMP.
An assembly of experts from NPS, other Federal and non-Federal agencies have worked together to clarify the needs and goals of the NPS SBMP to design the benthic mapping program. The central needs for individual parks, park networks and regions were identified as maps of bathymetry, bottom type, geology, and biology. Technical experts have considered leading data acquisition technologies, existing sources of data, and stress the need for partnerships to leverage resources. Initial program products include recommended classification schemes, and management approaches for consistent application and products similar to other long-term NPS benthic mapping efforts such as the vegetation mapping program. Recommendations from experts, including application of an improved version of the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS), will be tested in several pilot parks. In 2008, the NPS funded benthic mapping projects in Glacier Bay National Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Gulf Islands National Seashore, and Virgin Islands National Park and Coral Reef National Monument.
A report from the initial phases of this project will be available on this site as a PDF as soon as it has completed the review and publication process (NLT Oct. 2009).
Benthic Mapping Protocol Recommendations
The recommended SBMP protocols include servicewide standards (e.g., gap analysis, minimum accuracy, final products) as well as standards that can be adapted to fit network and park unit needs (e.g., minimum mapping unit, mapping priorities). The SBMP will map according to a version of the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS) that is adjusted to include all NPS needs such as lacustrine ecosystems and submerged cultural resources. The SBMP calls for scoping meetings for ocean and Great Lakes parks at regional or network scales prior to the beginning of inventories in those parks. There will also be uniform gap analysis and leveraging of partnerships prior to beginning the mapping process for each park unit. The SBMP requires the inventory and mapping of three critical components of marine ecosystems: benthic cover, geoforms, and water column properties. In order for a park unit benthic inventory to be considered complete, maps of bathymetry and the three key components must be combined into a final report.
At this time, three pilot parks are being used to test the effectiveness of NPS gap analysis protocols. These parks are Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SLBE), Assateague Island National Seashore (ASIS), and Channel Islands National Seashore (CHIS). Gap analysis evaluations are expected to be complete by June 2009.
The final report will be available on this site as a PDF as soon as it has completed the review and publication process (NLT Oct. 2009).
Gibbs, A.E., Cochran, S.A., Logan, J.B., and Grossman, E.E., 2007, Benthic habitats and offshore geological resources of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Hawai`i: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report, v. 2006-5256, p. 62.
Greene, H.G., Bizzarro, J.J., O’Connell, V.M., and Brylinsky, C.K., 2007, Construction of digital potential marine benthic habitat maps using a coded classification scheme and its applications, in Todd, B.J., and Greene, H.G., eds., Mapping the seafloor for habitat characterization: Geological Association of Canada, p. 145-159.
Madden, C.J., Goodin, K., Allee, B., Finkbeiner, M., and Bamford, D., 2008, Coastal and marine ecological classification standard, Version III: NOAA and NatureServe, 77 p.
Valentine, P.C., Cochrane, G.R., and Scanlon, K.M., 2003, Mapping the seabed and habitats in National Marine Sanctuaries- Examples from the East, Gulf and West Coasts: Marine Technology Society Journal, v. 37, no. 1, p. 10-17.