Katleen Robert

Katleen Robert
Memorial University of Newfoundland · Fisheries and Marine Institute

PhD Seafloor & Habitat Mapping
Canada Research Chair in Ocean Mapping

About

52
Publications
14,884
Reads
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896
Citations
Introduction
My research aims at developing quantitative and repeatable approaches to map seafloor habitats. My focus has been on examining fine-scale species-environment relationships using benthic imagery, sidescan and multibeam sonars to build full coverage predictive maps. I am also looking at mapping deep-sea habitats at even greater resolutions using 3D point clouds and photogrammetry reconstructions.
Additional affiliations
January 2015 - August 2017
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
Position
  • Research Assistant
October 2011 - October 2014
University of Southampton
Position
  • PhD Student

Publications

Publications (52)
Article
The relationship between polymetallic nodules (Mn nodules) and deep-sea stratigraphy is relatively poorly studied and the role of sediment thickness in determining nodule occurrence is an active field of research. This study utilizes geophysical observations from three types of autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) data (multi-beam bathymetry, sub-bo...
Article
Full-text available
To protect the range of habitats, species, and ecosystem functions in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ), a region of interest for deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining in the Pacific, nine Areas of Particular Environmental Interest (APEIs) have been designated by the International Seabed Authority (ISA). The APEIs are remote, rarely visited and poorl...
Article
Full-text available
The scale dependence of benthic terrain attributes is well-accepted, and multi-scale methods are increasingly applied for benthic habitat mapping. There are, however, multiple ways to calculate terrain attributes at multiple scales, and the suitability of these approaches depends on the purpose of the analysis and data characteristics. There are cu...
Article
Full-text available
Seafloor substrate mapping has become increasingly important to guide the management of marine ecosystems. Full coverage substrate maps, however, cannot easily be created from point samples (e.g. grabs, videos) as a result of the time required for collection and their discrete spatial extent. Instead, relationships between substrate types and surro...
Article
Full-text available
Submarine canyons are associated with increased biodiversity, including cold-water coral (CWC) colonies and reefs which are features of high conservation value that are under increasing anthropogenic pressure. Effective spatial management and conservation of these features requires accurate distribution maps and a deeper understanding of the proces...
Article
Full-text available
Aim In this study, we assess patterns of cold‐water coral assemblages observed on deep‐sea vertical walls. Similar to their shallow‐water counterparts, vertical and overhanging walls in the deep sea can host highly diverse communities, but because of their geometry, these habitats are generally overlooked and remain poorly known. These vertical hab...
Conference Paper
Under UNGA resolution 61/105, management of fisheries in areas beyond national jurisdiction requires identification of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs). Criteria to designate a VME include uniqueness, functional significance, fragility, structural complexity, and certain life history traits. Currently the only quantitative way to assess VME loca...
Article
Full-text available
The development of multibeam echosounders (MBES) as a seabed mapping tool has resulted in the widespread uptake of backscatter intensity as an indicator of seabed substrate properties. Though increasingly common, the lack of standard calibration and the characteristics of individual sonars generally produce backscatter measurements that are relativ...
Article
Full-text available
Decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure globally has focused attention on its importance as hard substratum on continental shelf and slope habitats. Observational studies are needed to improve understanding of faunal assemblages supported by offshore infrastructure and better predict the effect of removal. Here, we present results from visual...
Article
Full-text available
Fine-scale structural complexity created by reef-building coral in shallow-water environments is influential on biodiversity, species assemblage and functional trait expression. Cold-water coral reefs are also hotspots of biodiversity, often attributed to the hard surface and structural complexity provided by the coral. However, that complexity has...
Article
Full-text available
A correction to this article has been published and is linked from the HTML and PDF versions of this paper. The error has been fixed in the paper.
Article
Synthetic rock samples can offer advantages over natural rock samples when used for laboratory rock physical properties studies, provided their success as natural analogues is well understood. The ability of synthetic rocks to mimic the natural stress dependency of elastic wave, electrical and fluid transport properties is of primary interest. Henc...
Presentation
Full-text available
Marine spatial management, aiming for a sustainable use of marine resources, requires an accurate spatial representation of habitats and biodiversity. Identifying and mapping habitats is recognised by several international organizations as a key activity in protecting natural resources (e.g.: UN vulnerable marine ecosystems, OSPAR threatened and/ o...
Chapter
The most significant breakthroughs in science are often made as a result of technological developments and innovation. A new capacity to gather more data, measure more precisely or make entirely new observations generally leads to new insights and fundamental understanding. The future of ocean research and exploration therefore lies in robotics: ma...
Presentation
Full-text available
Cold-water corals (CWC) situated in submarine canyons represent features of high conservatio n value that are under increasing anthropogenic pressure. Accurate CWC distribution maps are required to implement effective spatial management and monitor change. However, due to the challenges of surveying such remote locations, little is known about thes...
Article
Full-text available
Seamounts are proposed to be hotspots of deep-sea biodiversity, a pattern potentially arising from increased productivity in a heterogeneous landscape leading to either high species co-existence or species turnover (beta diversity). However, studies on individual seamounts remain rare, hindering our understanding of the underlying causes of local c...
Article
Spatial variability in environmental conditions has been attributed as the main driver behind marine biodiversity in structurally complex environments. Despite this, spatial heterogeneity, reflecting terrain organisation of environmental conditions, is seldom quantified in the marine environment, especially at regional scale. In contrast, quantific...
Article
Predictive habitat mapping has shown great promise to improve the understanding of the spatial distribution and complexity of benthic habitats and is a valuable means to highlight species-environment relationships where field data are limited. Although spatial distribution models may represent an important step forward in science-based ecosystem ma...
Article
During the CODEMAP 2015 research expedition to the Whittard Canyon, Celtic Margin (NE Atlantic), a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) gathered High Definition video footage of the canyon rockwalls at depths of approximately 412–4184 m below sea level. This dataset was supplemented by predominantly carbonate rock samples collected during the dives, whi...
Article
Full-text available
Vertical walls in marine environments can harbour high biodiversity and provide natural protection from bottom-trawling activities. However, traditional mapping techniques are usually restricted to down-looking approaches which cannot adequately replicate their 3D structure. We combined sideways-looking multibeam echosounder (MBES) data from an AUV...
Article
Full-text available
(This is an open access paper: https://authors.elsevier.com/sd/article/S1750583617301615) CO2 geosequestration requires a comprehensive assessment of the geomechanical integrity of saline reservoir formations during and after CO2 injection. We assessed the geomechanical effects of CO2 injection and post-injection aquifer recharge on weakly cemente...
Article
Full-text available
Cold-water corals form substantial biogenic habitats on continental shelves and in deep-sea areas with topographic highs, such as banks and seamounts. In the Atlantic, many reef and mound complexes are engineered by Lophelia pertusa, the dominant framework-forming coral. In this study, a variety of mapping approaches were used at a range of scales...
Article
Full-text available
Sinking particulate organic matter (POM, phytodetritus) is the principal limiting resource for deep-sea life. However, little is known about spatial variation in POM supply to the abyssal seafloor, which is frequently assumed to be homogenous. In reality, the abyss has a highly complex landscape with millions of hills and mountains. Here, we show a...
Article
Full-text available
In the deep sea, biological data are often sparse; hence models capturing relationships between observed fauna and environmental variables (acquired via acoustic mapping techniques) are often used to produce full coverage species assemblage maps. Many statistical modelling techniques are being developed, but there remains a need to determine the mo...
Article
Full-text available
On abyssal plains, demersal fish are believed to play an important role in transferring energy across the seafloor and between the pelagic and benthic realms. However, little is known about their spatial distributions, making it difficult to quantify their ecological significance. To address this, we employed an autonomous underwater vehicle to con...
Chapter
Seafloor observatories offer earth and ocean scientists unique opportunities to study multiple, interrelated processes over time scales ranging from seconds to decades, and to conduct comparative studies of regional processes. The significant advantage that observatories have over traditional sampling methods lies in the enabling of long-term inter...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The marine area of Cap de Creus is of great ecological relevance in the Mediterranean Sea, mainly due to the remarkable productivity of its waters, in consonance with the diversity of species and habitats identified in them. This exceptionality has come at a price, and the number of human related activities occurring in the area has not ceased to i...
Poster
Topography is a major driver of spatial variation in ecosystems. Understanding such spatial heterogeneity is important to adequately sample populations and unravel the mechanisms regulating biodiversity. In the deep sea, large-scale topographic features such as canyons and seamounts influence the sedimentary conditions and resource availability. Le...
Thesis
The deep sea represents the largest biome on earth, and for most of it, no maps of resolutions comparable to terrestrial environments are available. As new species continue to be discovered, it is clear that our knowledge of species spatial patterns is insufficient to properly inform marine spatial planning, and for complex habitats, high-resolutio...
Article
Full-text available
Submarine canyons are complex geomorphological features that have been suggested as potential hotspots for biodiversity. However, few canyons have been mapped and studied at high resolution (tens of m). In this study, the four main branches of Whittard Canyon, Northeast Atlantic, were mapped using multibeam and sidescan sonars to examine which envi...
Article
The extent and speed of marine environmental mapping is increasing quickly with technological advances, particularly with optical imaging from autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). This contribution describes a new deep-sea digital still camera system that takes high-frequency (>1 Hz) color photographs of the seafloor, suitable for detailed biolog...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The JC060 cruise was the first, dedicated, deep-water habitat-mapping cruise of the MAREMAP initiative (UK Marine Environmental Mapping Programme). MAREMAP is an initiative aiming to promote integrated surveys by the following NERC organisations and partners: the National Oceanography Centre (NOC); the British Geological Survey (BGS); and the Scott...
Article
Full-text available
Species distributions are influenced by spatial structure in environmental factors, but the scales at which these dependencies occur and the effect of habitat patch diversity, connectivity and spatial arrangement have rarely been investigated in deep-sea settings. In this study, spatially limited photographic transects collected from Rockall Bank,...
Article
Full-text available
Forest canopies support high arthropod biodiversity, but in temperate canopies, little is known about the spatial distribution of these arthropods. This is an important first step toward understanding ecological roles of insects in temperate canopies. The objective of this study was to assess differences in the species composition of two dominant a...
Article
Here we investigate behavioral responses to fine-scale spatial and temporal temperature gradients in a heat tolerant hydrothermal vent worm (Paralvinella sulfincola). While this species has been a model organism for understanding physiological adaptations to extreme environments, lacking are corroborative in situ experiments and characterization of...
Article
Hydrothermal vent systems represent a unique marine environment where high spatial variability allows the study of habitat selection with respect to small-scale temperature gradients. An autonomous time-lapse camera with a temperature logger array was deployed on four occasions to examine the thermal responses of two vent endemic polynoid polychaet...
Article
Full-text available
The mixing of deep-sea sediments by benthic megafauna is an important ecological service that influences biogeochemical processes. Quantifying the contribution of individual species to bioturbation and their responses to environmental variations requires experimental manipulation or direct observation, both of which are logistically challenging in...
Article
Full-text available
The development and deployment of sensors for undersea cabled observatories is presently biased toward the measurement of habitat variables, while sensor technologies for biological community characterization through species identification and individual counting are less common. The VENUS cabled multisensory network (Vancouver Island, Canada) depl...
Article
Understanding biological rhythms in benthic ecosystems and their modulation by habitat cycles has important implications for resource and ecosystem management. The recent development of permanent, multi-sensor seafloor observatories in deep-water environments provides opportunities for the in situ investigation of the behaviour of benthic organisms...
Article
Full-text available
Hydrothermal vent environments are among the most dynamic benthic habitats in the ocean. The relative roles of physical and biological factors in shaping vent community structure remain unclear. Undersea cabled observatories offer the power and bandwidth required for high-resolution, time-series study of the dynamics of vent communities and the phy...

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Projects

Projects (3)
Project
Inuit are intimately tied to their local environment through hunting, fishing and foraging for country foods. As such, climate change, changing animal migration patterns, and environmental contamination threaten important aspects of Inuit life. For the first time, Labrador Inuit are developing a marine planning initiative (Imappivut – ‘Our Waters’) which will include protected areas in their waters. This project team has been invited to support this endeavour. The proposed research project will address priority elements on three focal species (Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus), rock cod (Gadus ogac), and ringed seal (Pusa hispida)) identified by Labrador Inuit in support of their marine management plan (‘Imappivut’). The project will improve understanding of Imappivut marine habitats and culturally important species that rely on those habitats. Individual projects will accomplish the following: 1) tag Arctic charr and rock cod to assess movement and distribution; 2) use a combination of archived and newly collected biological samples to assess food web structure in Arctic charr and ringed seal as a function of climate change and consequent implications for pathways and effects of mercury (Hg) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); 3) use the same biological samples to investigate plastic contamination in all three species of value to Inuit, including synergistic interactions between plastics, Hg, and PCBs; and 4) large-scale marine habitat mapping using multibeam sonar data, benthic video transects, benthic organisms and 3 FULL PROPOSAL APPLICATION FORM 2018 bottom sediment in support of evaluating benthic habitats in high-use charr and rock cod areas, the development of sustainable subsistence and commercial fisheries, and the identification and characterization of sensitive and critical habitats. These interwoven studies will provide multi-scalar assessments of the region in terms of traditional food distributions, trends, and topics of concern. All data will be shared with the Nunatsiavut Government, where results will support the development of the marine management plan Imappivut and will inform future efforts across the Arctic on the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs). This project will support capacity building in Inuit communities, including hiring local Inuit HQPs, to enable local marine monitoring, protection and management in Labrador.
Project
The reduction in Arctic summer sea-ice cover observed over the last decades allows for new shipping routes, new fishing grounds and cruise tourism opportunities. Thus, as part of the Arctic Blue Economy strategy, the shipping, oil and gas exploration, mining, fisheries and tourism sectors have been identified as areas of important potential economic growth in the Canadian Arctic. The integration of multiple spatial datasets from the marine environment is therefore needed for a sustainable management of offshore resources in the Canadian Arctic. Combining acoustic mapping of the seabed relief, surface sediment composition and subsurface sediment records can provide invaluable information to understand the geological processes shaping the seafloor, to assess natural hazards and coastal habitats and to document the evolution of sea surface conditions, as well as aid the development of the Arctic Blue Economy. In this context, the overall objectives of this cutting-edge Arctic research program are to 1) perform detailed mapping of the Arctic CanadaSeafloor and adjacent coastal areas as an aid in understanding potential marine geohazards, minimize potential hazards to navigation, establish seafloor habitat characteristics, and improve the bottom boundary of Arctic Ocean modelling, 2) better document the age and origin of Canada’s Arctic seafloor using a multidisciplinary approach that contributes to the development of a robust geological and paleoenvironmental framework, and 3) develop data dissemination tools tolink the acoustic data products with the Arctic seafloor mapping user communities. Taken as a whole, this research program will update and significantly improve the existing seafloor mapping coverage, provide foundational seafloor characterization for habitat and ocean modelling, improve navigation safety, and unravel the fundamental processes controlling the sediment and climate dynamics across the entire marine Arctic Canada. Finally, this research programwill provide a dynamic training environment for highly qualified personnel, with access to expertize in various fields of ocean mapping and marine geology, and hands-on training on ship-based seafloor mapping and coring operations.
Project
Define, quantify and map the physical and ecological characteristics of deep-sea mega habitats on ecologically relevant geo-forms (submarine canyons, seamounts, coral mounds). Specific attention is paid to Cold Water Coral communities and their distribution in space and time in the Mediterranean Sea.