This section contains useful tools and background information about the marine habitat classification system.
This PDF guide is the best place to start to understand the classification. It includes:
- The layout and components of each biotope description
- Guide to understanding the biotope codes
- Explanation of the species nomenclature
How to interpret survey data and assign a biotope using the classification, or EUNIS. This document provides a step by step guide to reviewing evidence, suggestions for dealing with common problems, and a template biotope report structure.
- Parry, M.E.V., (2019), Guidance on Assigning Benthic Biotopes using EUNIS or the Marine Habitat Classification of Britain and Ireland (Revised 2019), JNCC Report 546, ISSN 0963-8091
The comparative tables enable a rapid comparison of the species composition and the principal physical characteristics between user-defined sets of biotopes (and other classification units). There are no tables for the deep-sea section added in 2015; therefore they are only relevant to littoral and sublittoral zones - equivalent to version 04.05 of the classification. The tables are provided in the form of two downloadable Excel documents. One contains physical data, and the other contains biological (species) data.
The habitat matrices document contains a series of diagrams that visualise the biotopes in relation to various abiotic conditions.
- The primary habitat matrices provide a general framework for the classification and shows the level 2 and 3 types.
- For each of the broad habitats in the shallow section of the classification (LR, LS, IR, CR, SS) more detailed matrices provide a rapid indication of the range of biotopes and sub-biotopes(levels 5 & 6) that could occur under certain habitat conditions, e.g. moderate energy infralittoral rock or intertidal sandflats. They can be used to indicate which closely related biotopes should be considered before determining to which type a sample record should be assigned.
To help navigate the classification hierarchy, a full biotope list and hierarchy structure diagrams (one for each broad habitat) are available to download (xlsx).
The full classification is also available in a downloadable and printable format (pdf).
- LR - littoral rock
- LS - littoral sediment
- IR - infralittoral rock
- CR - circalittoral rock
- SS - sublittoral sediment
- M.* - deep sea
Using the correlation tables, you can identify possible relationships between habitats in the Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland, the marine section of the EUNIS classification and those listed as being important for conservation under various legislative instruments (e.g. Annex I habitats, OSPAR habitats). The correlation tables are periodically revised as habitat definitions are refined.
Two tools are available to investigate these correlations: the correlation spreadsheet and the correlation database. These two tools contain the same correlations presented in two different ways.
|IMPORTANT: note that habitat correlation tools give an indication of which biotopes may be classed as a listed habitat, but remember that additional specific criteria may apply (e.g. the habitat may have to be a certain size) so you should always check detailed listed habitat definitions to make sure.|
Have you found a community that doesn’t sit well within any existing biotopes in the Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland? Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and refer to the guidance below.
The classification is a work-in-progress. Read this two-page summary for an update on the ongoing work to update the littoral and sublittoral parts of the classification system.
The update to version 15.03 saw the addition of a deep-sea section for the first time; this report describes the work done to create this new section. No edits were made to the rest of the classification.
- Parry, M.E.V., Howell, K.L., Narayanaswamy, B.E., Bett, B.J., Jones, D.O.B., Hughes, D.J., Piechaud, N., Nickell, T.D., Ellwood, H., Askew, N., Jenkins, C. & Manca, E. 2015. A Deep sea Section for the Marine Habitat Classification of Britain and Ireland. JNCC report No. 530 Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough
- Appendix 2: Deep-sea classification summary table
- Appendix 3: Deep-sea habitat descriptions
The update to version 04.05 involved the additional of new biotopes and revision of some existing biotopes. This report gives a useful background and description of version 04.05 classification, which is still just as relevant to the littoral and sublittoral sections of version 15.03.
- DAVID W. CONNOR, JAMES H. ALLEN, NEIL GOLDING, KERRY L. HOWELL, LOUISE M. LIEBERKNECHT, KATE O. NORTHEN AND JOHNNY B. REKER (2004) The Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland Version 04.05. JNCC, Peterborough ISBN 1 861 07561 8
An early version of the classification, described in these two reports (see the Correlation tables for the relationship between version 97.06 and the current version of the classification).
- Connor, D.W., Brazier, D.P., Hill, T.O., & Northen, K.O. 1997a. Marine Nature Conservation Review: marine biotope classification for Britain and Ireland. Volume 1. Littoral biotopes. Version 97.06. JNCC Report, No. 229.
- Connor, D.W., Dalkin, M.J., Hill, T.O., Holt, R.H.F., & Sanderson, W.G. 1997b. Marine Nature Conservation Review: marine biotope classification for Britain and Ireland. Volume 2. Sublittoral biotopes. Version 97.06. JNCC Report, No. 230.
- Connor, D.W., Brazier, D.P., Hill, T.O., Holt, R.H.F., Northen, K.O., & Sanderson, W.G. 1996. Marine Nature Conservation Review: marine biotopes. A working classification for the British Isles. Version 96.7. Peterborough, Joint Nature Conservation Committee.
- Connor, D.W., Hiscock, K., Foster-Smith, R.L., & Covey, R. 1995. A classification system for benthic marine biotopes. In: Biology and ecology of shallow coastal waters. Proceedings of the 28th European Marine Biology Symposium, ed. by A. Eleftheriou, A.D. Ansell & C.J. Smith, 155-165. Fredensborg, Olsen & Olsen.
The SACFOR abundance scales adopted from 1990 provide a unified system for recording the abundance of marine benthic flora and fauna in biological surveys. It has been used to describe the relative quantities of taxa in many of the biotope descriptions.
Central to all field surveying during the Marine Nature Conservation Review of the 1990s was a series of specifically designed recording forms onto which field data were transcribed. These are still used by field surveyors today for in situ shore and dive surveys.
- Guidance (PDF, 67 Kb) notes for completion of MNCR recording forms
- Survey form (PDF, 23 Kb) - For general details about the entire survey including the organization and personnel involved, the dates and general location of the survey and the range of methods used
- Site form (PDF, 40 Kb) - for information on the main features of each site, including its name and position, the surveyors, the time and type of survey undertaken, general physical characteristics, uses and impacts
- Habitat forms - There are two habitat forms, one for littoral habitats (PDF, 60 Kb) and one for sublittoral habitats (PDF, 78 Kb). They are for details of the physical and biological nature of the habitat and include a checklist of species against which to record abundance [species names updated in July 2017].