Applying remote sensing techniques to map seafloor geology/habitat relationships.
High-resolution seafloor mapping technology and computer analytical techniques can create surficial geologic maps that can be used to establish relationships between seafloor geology and benthic communities. This study predicts the distribution of seafloor geology on Short Bank in central Santa Monica Bay, CA, and establishes seafloor geology/benthic habitat relationships in the area. GIS and remote-sensing analytical techniques, including a hierarchical decision tree were used to classify multibeam bathymetry and acoustic backscatter imagery into rock, gravelly muddy sand, muddy sand, and mud. The classification is tested with ground-truth from sediment samples, bottom photography, and geologic profiles. Rocky outcrops support the greatest variety of benthic organisms, including rockfish and white sea anemones. The distribution of seafloor geology and seafloor geology/benthic relationships can be used by biologists and fisheries managers to make informed management decisions.