Dataset: Southern Ocean Benthic Classification (SOBC) - ecoregions, bathomes and environmental types


This dataset is intended for general use in spatial planning and management to identify areas where benthic marine assemblages are likely to differ from each other in the Southern Ocean. We achieve this by using a hierarchical spatial classification of ecoregions, bathomes and environmental types. Ecoregions are defined according to available data on biogeographic patterns and environmental drivers on dispersal. Bathomes are identified according to depth strata defined by species distributions. Environmental types are uniquely classified according to the geomorphic features found within the bathomes in each ecoregion. This circum-Antarctic map of environmental types can be used to support spatial management aimed at conserving benthic biodiversity across the entire Southern Ocean.

The study area spans the region managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). The northern boundary of this region is a line approximating the location of the Polar Front. The southern boundary was defined as the northern edge of the permanent ice shelf of the Antarctic continent.

The shapefile can be used to identify three levels of the hierarchical classification (see Fig. 1 of Douglass et al., 2014):

  1. Level 1: Ecoregions

  2. Level 2b: Geomorphic features nested in each ecoregion

  3. Level 3: Environmental Types

The dataset cannot be used to analyse a level 2a nesting since for some geomorphic features (e.g. seamounts and canyons) the nested bathomes were combined when generating environmental types. If a level 2a nesting is required please contact

The shapefile contains ten fields:

EcoID- Abbreviated Level 1 benthic ecoregion names

Ecoregion- Level 1 benthic ecoregion names

Geomorph2- Geomorphic features

BathID- Bathome identification number which can be used to sort the depth classes

Bathome2 - Bathome

EcoGeo- Level 2b nesting of geomorphic features in each ecoregion

EnvTyp- Level 3 environmental types

GeoClsID- Geomorphic class identification number

GeoCls- Geomorphic classes

Sqkm- Area in square kilometers

General Information