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
Example 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.
Hydrography to Biology: Developing Integrated Approaches for Benthic Habitat Mapping in the Bay of Fundy
The goal of this research project is to develop integrated approaches for seafloor habitat mapping in the Bay of Fundy to assess spatial patterns in benthic habitats and associated fauna, and the environmental drivers of these patterns.
The project addressed the following five research objectives.
1. Multisource Multibeam Data
2. Baroclinic and Barotropic Ocean Circulation Models
3. Ground Truthing
4. Benthic Habitat Maps
5. Spatial Distribution of Benthic Debris
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.