No. 12 1714S Solan Bank Reef SCI Environmental Data Analysis
(012 - 2016)
Barrio Froján, C.
The geological seabed feature known as the Solan Bank High is located within the Scottish Continental Shelf Regional Sea, between 20 and 60km from the Scottish mainland, north of Cape Wrath. The bank is characterised by bedrock reef outcrops and stony reef structures interspersed with coarse and mixed sediments, and lies in a range of depth zones from the infralittoral to the deep circalittoral; it is exposed to a range of energy levels, with a resulting wide variety of associated biological communities. Since the bedrock and stony reef structures correspond with the definition of Annex I reef habitat under the European Commission (EC) Habitats Directive, the bank has been recommended by the Scottish Government as a candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC), and has been adopted by the EC as the Solan Bank Reef Site of Community Importance (SCI) whilst it awaits designation as a SAC (JNCC 2012).


An investigation has been carried out into the composition and structure of the epibenthic assemblage inhabiting the Solan Bank Reef SCI. The purpose of the investigation was to describe the epibenthic assemblages inhabiting different habitat types, and to identify any environmental variables that may be influential in any pattern observed in the assemblages.

In addition, this investigation sought to test whether subsets of the acquired epibenthic dataset would be suitable to use as a surrogate for the whole assemblage. In particular, sponges classified into morphological categories and anthozoa were of interest, because together they have been proposed as a supporting indicator of biodiversity for the assessment of Good Environmental Status under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
Datasets of epibenthic taxa were generated from the processing of underwater video and still photographs taken during a dedicated survey of the site in 2014. Analyses were performed on each dataset separately to retain the possibility of comparing which sampling technique, if any, might be more effective in delivering data that revealed the most informative results. Both datasets revealed similar patterns in epibenthic composition across habitat types, between reef elevation categories and between biotopes. However, some of the limitations imposed by each sampling technique were evident in the results. These limitations have been discussed, and recommendations provided on when each technique might be deployed to best effect.



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A4, 89pp
ISSN 2051-6711
Please cite as: Barrio Froján, C., (012 - 2016), No. 12 1714S Solan Bank Reef SCI Environmental Data Analysis, A4, 89pp, ISSN 2051-6711