Geomorphological classification of reefs: draft framework for an Australian standard

Reefs are recognised as seabed features that potentially support a diverse range of benthic and demersal biota and are recognised by the Australian Government as conservation values (i.e. Key Ecological Features) within marine bioregional plans. To support the ongoing monitoring and management of reef systems, the Marine Biodiversity Hub is undertaking a project to identify and collate all available mapping data for reefs on the continental shelf of Australia. This report presents a draft framework for describing the geomorphology of reefs based on the best available bathymetric data as the proposed standard for the classification of reefs in the Australian context. The classification incorporates a vocabulary of terms that describe reef origin, physical form (shape, relief, slope, rugosity) and substrate type (rock, unconsolidated, sediment texture). The broad environmental setting of a reef is also represented by categories of climatic region and shelf bathymetric zone. The classification is therefore intended for application to both rocky and biogenic reefs at the national scale, and links conceptually to the mapping of reef geomorphic features that forms part of the national benthic biogregionalisation (IMCRA). It is intended that the geomorphic classification presented here will be subsequently linked to a biological classification scheme for reef biota, thereby providing a comprehensive and integrated approach to the description of reef habitats.


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