A12. Habitat Mapping (biotope)

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1. Methodology[edit]

Biotopes, functional or mesohabitat assessment is a technique used to map a watercourse, stillwater or wetland by breaking it down into components. Biotopes are defined as an area with uniform environmental conditions that provide a habitat for a specific assemblage of plants and animals. Functional habitats (see Harper and Smith, 1995 and Kemp et al, 1999) are areas where hydrological and physical processed for distinct habitats which support distinct invertebrate assemblages. Functional habitats in rivers are called 'mesohabitats' by other researchers e.g. Pardo and Armitage, 1997. Some workers map the physical biotopes rather than the functional habitats that they provide. Their inter-relationship and visualized within the picture below.

Biotopes or functional habitats may be mapped directly or highlighted on other maps produced as part of a study such as a River Corridor Survey.

2. Application[edit]

Mapping of biotopes is a relatively simple method of assessing and recording what habitats present within a study section. The composition of habitats present within the section to be restored can be compared with a reference section to help identify what habitats need to be created and the restoration measures needed. Undertaking pre and post surveys and comparing the restoration section with the reference or control section will enable the success of the scheme in re-creating the required habitat to be reviewed. By sampling invertebrates associated with each of the functional habitats the habitat information can be extrapolated into ecological change.

3. References[edit]

  1. Harper, D.M. and Smith, C., D., 1995, Habitats in British Rivers: Biological Reality and Practical Value in River Management, Research and Development Note 346, National Rivers Authority, Anglian Region.
  2. Kemp, J.L. Harper, D.M. and Cros G. A., 1999, Use of 'functional habitats' to link ecology with morphology and hydrology in river rehabilitation, Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 9, 159-178
  3. Pardo, I. and Armitage, P.D. 1997. Species assemblages as descriptors of mesohabitats, Hydrobiologia, 344, 111-128.
  4. Sear, D. A., Newson. M. D. & Thorne, C. R. (2004) ‘Guidebook of Applied Fluvial Geomorphology’, Defra/Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Defence R&D Programme, R&D Technical Report FD1914