The Seascape Ecology and Mapping (SEAM) laboratory, led by Dr Craig Brown, is based in the Oceanography Department at Dalhousie University.
Human pressures on the ocean continue to increase, and improved understanding of the spatial distribution of seabed organisms and habitats is of paramount importance for implementing effective marine spatial planning, marine conservation, and sustainable resource management. The research of the SEAM lab is focussed in the emerging field of seascape ecology, the ocean-centric equivalent of landscape ecology, which offer a solution to this problem by providing a way to study marine systems within a spatial framework.
Our research aims to describe, understand, and quantify the spatial patterns of benthic fauna and habitats at the ocean floor. This is closely linked to our ability to map seafloor ecosystems at appropriate resolutions to understand species-environment relationships, and drivers of spatiotemporal change in these systems (both natural and anthropogenic). Our research is therefore closely tied to developments in seafloor mapping technologies, primarily acoustic remote sensing methods (e.g. multibeam sonar), and the application of novel and new data integration approaches (i.e. Geographic Information Systems and geospatial statistical techniques).
Our research is grounded in the applied sciences, and we collaborate with government, private sector, and other academic institution on a wide range of projects within this field.
The SEAM Team
Past projects include research done at the Nova Scotia Community College, through the Applied Oceans Research Group (AORG), which Dr. Craig Brown led before moving to Dalhousie in 2019.
Big BRUVver Watches the Bedford Basin
Benthic ecosystems contribute to global ocean health through biogeochemical functions & provisions of ecosystem services. Benthic ecosystems are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic pressures such as climate change & therefore, effective marine monitoring strategies are needed to evaluate ecosystem health.
Traditional marine monitoring methods can be extractive, destructive, costly, and labour intensive, limiting scope & repeatability. Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS) represent an innovative monitoring technology, with many advantages compared to traditional survey methods. The majority of BRUVS studies have been conducted in the photic zone within the southern hemisphere, with 61% of studies attributed to Australia alone. Significant knowledge gaps surround the use of BRUVS with integrated lights in poor visibility waters of the North Atlantic.
Mapping the Ocean Floor
Ocean floor mapping was a key area of research for the AORG. The goal is to make detailed thematic maps of the seabed using data obtained from a combination of techniques and innovative data analytics. The AORG focused on investigating the latest innovations in ocean survey instruments, including subsea camera systems, multibeam echo sounders and autonomous platforms.