The Deep-sea Section of the Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland

Version 15.03 of the JNCC Classification replicates the previous version 04.05 (Connor et al., 2004) that covered the littoral zone to the circalittoral zone (< 200 m as a rule of thumb), but adds a new deep-sea section.

The 2015 deep-sea section was developed in collaboration with Plymouth Univeristy, the Scottish Association for Marine Science and the National Oceanography Centre (Southampton). Reports produced from work undertaken to develop biological assemblages for the deep-sea classification can be downloaded here:

Epifaunal assemblages report (Piechaud and Howell, Plymouth Univeristy)

 Infaunal assemblages report (Nickell et. al., SAMS)

The deep-sea section has been added to the classification hierarchy and full deep-sea habitat descriptions are available by selecting the habitat name from this page. Report 530 (Parry, 2015) in the JNCC report series describes the development process, outlines the overall structure, lists the new deep-sea biotopes and their parent habitats, and discusses how the deep-sea section should be used. As well as reviewing Parry (2015), users should refer to background information provided for v04.05, which outlines more general information about the classification, how the shallower section was developed, and how to use the classification.

The deep-sea section follows a different structure to the rest of the classification in response to user issues. Each level represents the addition of a single new factor, as outlined below:

            Level 1             Environment: Marine

            Level 2             Biological zone (biogeographic region and vertical zone): Atlantic upper bathyal, mid bathyal, lower bathyal, upper abyssal, mid abyssal, lower abyssal; Arctic mid bathyal, lower bathyal, upper abyssal; Atlanto-Arctic upper bathyal.

            Level 3             Substratum: Rock and other hard substrata, mud, sand, coarse sediment, mixed sediment, biogenic substrate

            Level 4             Broad community

            Level 5             Biological assemblage


cold water corals

© JNCC and Plymouth University

The JNCC deep-sea classification report should be cited as:

PARRY, M.E.V., K.L. HOWELL, B.E. NARAYANASWAMY, B.J. BETT, D.O.B. JONES, D.J. HUGHES, N. PIECHAUD, H. ELLWOOD, N. ASKEW, C. JENKINS and E. MANCA (2015) A Deep-sea Section for the Marine Habitat Classification of Britain and Ireland. JNCC report No. 530