Brief notes on habitat geology and clay pipe habitat on Stellwagen Bank

Edited by: Eleanor M. Dorsey and Judith Pederson



In our studies of sea floor habitats, my colleagues and I use both biological and geological approaches. We call our studies “habitat geology,” a term coined by a biologist friend of mine. We view it as the study of sea floor materials and biological and geological processes that influence where species live. Some of the factors that we consider are the following:

  1. composition of the sea bed, which ranges from mud to sand, gravel, bedrock, and shell beds;
  2. shape and steepness of the bottom;
  3. roughness of the bottom, which is enhanced by the presence of cobbles, boulders, sand waves and ripples, burrows into the bottom, and species that extend above the bottom;
  4. bottom currents generated by storm waves and tides, which can move sediment and expose or cover habitats; and
  5. the way in which the sea bed is utilized by species.

In addition, we take into account the impact of sea bed disturbance by bottom fishing trawls and dredges. Habitats characterized by attached and burrowing species that protrude above the sea bed appear to be most vulnerable to disturbance.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Brief notes on habitat geology and clay pipe habitat on Stellwagen Bank
Year Published 1998
Language English
Publisher Conservation Law Foundation
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 2 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Effects of fishing gear on the sea floor of New England
First page 119
Last page 120
Country United States