Towards a greater understanding of pattern, scale and process in marine benthic systems: a picture is worth a thousand worms

Martin Solan, J D Germano, D C Rhoads, Chris Smith, E Michaud, D Parry, F Wenzhofer, Bob Kennedy, Camila Henriques, Emma Battle, Drew Carey, L Iocco, R Valente, John Watson, R Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Citations (Scopus)


Historically, advances in our knowledge of benthic community structure and functioning have necessarily relied upon destructive sampling devices (grabs, cores, anchor dredges, etc.) that lose valuable contextual information in the process of sampling. In the last 40 years, instrumentation capable of measuring dynamic events and/or processes within and immediately above the seafloor has been developed that facilitates the collection of ecological information. Of these, both acoustic and optical imaging devices have played a significant role in revealing much about the physiology and behaviour of, and interactions between benthic species, and the sedimentary habitat in which they reside. While a number of reviews have separately considered the methodological and technical aspects of imaging technologies, the collective contribution that imaging has made to benthic ecology has received less attention. In this short review, we attempt to highlight key instances over the last 40 years where either acoustic or optical-based imaging techniques have provided new ecological insights and information about fine-grained sedimentary environments. In so doing, we focus on the ecological advances that have formed the precursor to current research efforts and introduce some of the latest revelations from appropriate and emerging imaging applications. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-338
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2003


  • acoustic
  • benthic
  • imaging
  • photography
  • sediment-water interface
  • video
  • seabed discrimination system
  • organism-sediment relations
  • northeast atlantic-ocean
  • eastern irish sea
  • deep-sea
  • in-situ
  • biogenic structures
  • demersal fishes
  • maxmuelleria-lankesteri
  • classification-system


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