return
return to main site

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sections
Personal tools
You are here: Home Projects North Atlantic Projects Application of the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standards (CMECS) to the Northeast

Application of the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standards (CMECS) to the Northeast

Application of (CMECS) to the Northeast

This project integrated NOAA and NatureServe's Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS) and the Nature Conservancy and NatureServe's Northeast Regional Habitat Classification System (NRHCS) in order to extend the latter system to estuarine and marine environments from Maine to Virginia. State, academic, and non-profit partners collaborated to identify and cross-walk existing state marine classification systems. The project examined the scalability of this classification by conducting pilot mapping projects at three different scales relevant to planning and conservation efforts.

Classifying estuarine and marine habitats was identified as a priority need for a variety of purposes in the Northeast. This project utilized the national Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS) version 4.0 to classify estuarine and marine environments in the Northwest Atlantic region (Maine to Virginia). Since CMECS was released just prior to the beginning of this project, and had not been applied to this region previously, the classification effort was informed by the habitat mapping approach that The Nature Conservancy (TNC) developed for the Northwest Atlantic. Several commonalities exist between the two habitat classification schemes: each has a multi-scale hierarchical framework, relies on structural environmental features, and seeks to convey physical-biological linkages. Ensuring CMECS and the TNC classifications are compatible will avoid redundancy and bring appropriate specificity to the application of CMECS to the region.

In addition to utilizing the TNC classification for guidance, we identified and crosswalked existing state marine classification systems to CMECS. We coordinated with regional activities surrounding offshore benthic habitat mapping that awere re being led by the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC) and academic and non-profit partners. Our aim was to work closely with the CMECS Implementation Group to appropriately apply CMECS. We anticipated that the process of applying CMECS would require an active dialog with regional partners to resolve issues regarding thresholds and units.

Lastly, we examined the scalability of this classification by conducting pilot projects at three different scales relevant to planning and conservation efforts.

  • At the regional scale (1:5,000,000), we applied the classification to the Nature Conservancy’s Benthic Habitat Model from the 2010 Northwest Atlantic Marine Assessment.
  • An intermediate-scale classification (1:250,000) utilized datasets assembled for marine spatial planning efforts in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and adjacent federal waters.
  • At a finer scale (1:5,000), we classified estuary-specific, high-resolution benthic information for Boston Harbor.

These pilots allowed us to assess the ability of CMECS to convey consistent ecological data across several relevant scales. Our timeline included initial phone meetings, followed by the pilot efforts and a workshop.

LCC Staff Contact: Scott Schwenk

NALCC Funding: $79,068

Other Funding: $57,000