Research Technical Report
Applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to Habitat Assessment and Marine Resource Management
Stanbury, K.B., and R.M. Starr (1999)
Oceanologica Acta 22(6):699-703
Marine scientists often assess habitats to understand the distribution and relative abundance of marine resources. Due to the spatial nature of habitats and associated temporal changes, however, assimilation data using traditional analytical methods is often difficult. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are proving to be effective tools to help address problems inherent in the analysis of spatial data. GIS can be used to effectively collate, archive, display, analyze, and model spatial and temporal data. Additionally, by combining dissimilar data types, such as socio-political boundaries, bottom types, and fish distributions, for example, resource managers can use GIS to make informal management decisions. In this way, GIS provides resource managers with a means to integrate scientific data with prevailing cultural values and traditions. We have developed a working GIS for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary that allows interpretation of many terrestrial and marine data sets, including inter-tidal monitoring data, permit locations, seabird strandings, fisheries catch data, habitat types, marine political boundaries, as well as land cover classification from satellite imagery, watersheds, streams, roads, and political boundaries. We have linked terrestrial and marine data to create a broad spatial and temporal database that will be used in a variety of ways such as evaluating natural processes, permitting and monitoring coastal development and assessing environmental impacts (e.g. oil spills).