MEPS 173:227-235 (1998)  -  doi:10.3354/meps173227

Applying a Geographical Information System (GIS) to the study of the growth of benthic clonal organisms

Joaquim Garrabou*

Dpt. d'Ecologia, Fac. Biologia, Univ. Barcelona, Avgda. Diagonal 645, E-08028 Barcelona, Spain
*Present address: Dept of Zoology, University of Maryland at College Park, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Geographical Information Systems (GIS) were applied to study the growth of benthic encrusting clonal organisms. Routine GIS overlaying procedures were used to merge referenced specimen outlines from different time steps into a single image. From the resulting composite image the GIS automatically calculated independent growth (i.e. net area gained) and shrinkage (i.e. net area lost) rates for any desired time period. This method provided automatic and reliable data for estimating the growth and shrinkage rates of benthic clonal organisms. The availability of GIS software for multiple platforms allows application of this method at an acceptable cost; a moderate period of training is necessary to learn how to perform the analysis necessary to obtain growth and shrinkage rates. The application of GIS technology will help improve the study of the complex growth patterns exhibited by benthic clonal organisms.


KEY WORDS: Benthic clonal organisms · Geographical Information System · GIS · Growth rates


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