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Norway has a varied marine environment, comprising contrasting landscapes ranging from the deep sea mountain chains in the mid-Atlantic to the skerrygaard and fjords of the coastal zone. Within each of these landscapes there are many different seabed habitats.

Habitats are areas with a characteristic environment inhabited by characteristic species.  The habitat for a community of species is called a biotope. Biotopes may be characterised by species that themselves are providing habitat for other species, or by an assemblage of species without that function.

MAREANO contributes information on seabed habitats and biotopes that can provides a basis for ecosystem based management by producing two complementary types of biotope maps. In addition to this MAREANO contributes to the development of a national standard of nature classification - Nature in Norway (NiN). More information about each product type is given below.

General Biotope Map

The general biotope maps produced by MAREANO show regions with similar communities of animals living on the seabed, in a similar physical environment. These maps give an overview of the general distribution of different biotopes and are not focused on any particular species.

Vulnerable biotope maps

The vulnerable biotope maps produced by MAREANO indicate regions with frequent occurrence of certain fragile, large and long lived species of sponges, seapens and corals in a similar physical environment. These maps focus solely on the likely distribution of specific types of benthic organisms, all of which are also defined as VME indicators (indicator species of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems defined by the FAO of the UN).

Nature in Norway (NiN)

Nature in Norway (NiN) – NiN is the Norwegian standard for describing and classifying ecological variation across terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments.


Photo of Pål Buhl-Mortensen

Pål Buhl-Mortensen

Institute of Marine Research
+47 484 03 792
Photo of Margaret Dolan

Margaret Dolan

Geological Survey of Norway (NGU)
+47 73 90 42 67