SEAGRASS HABITAT SUITABILITY MAP AT MERAMBONG SHOAL, JOHOR: A PRELIMINARY STUDY USING MULTIBEAM ECHOSOUNDER AND MAXENT MODELLING
In recent years, there has been an increasing interest to use high-resolution multibeam dataset and Species Distribution Modelling (SDM) for seagrass habitat suitability model. This requires a specific variable derived from multibeam data and in-situ seagrass occurrence samples. The purpose of this study was (1) to derive variables from multibeam bathymetry data to be used in seagrass habitat suitability model, (2) to produce seagrass habitat suitability model using Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt), and (3) to quantify the contribution of each variable for predicting seagrass habitat suitability map. The study area was located at Merambong Shoal, covering an area of 0.04 km 2, situated along Johor Strait. First, twelve (12) variables were derived from bathymetry data collected from multibeam echosounder using Benthic Terrain Modeller (BTM) tool. Secondly, all variables and seagrass occurrence samples were integrated in MaxEnt to produce seagrass habitat suitability map. The results showed that the Area Under Curve (AUC) values based on training and test data were 0.88 and 0.65, respectively. The northwest region of survey area indicated higher habitat suitability of seagrass, while the southeast region of survey area indicated lower suitability. Bathymetry mean found to be the most contributed variables among others. The spatial distribution of seagrass from modelling technique agreed with the previous studies and they are found to be distributed at depths ranging from 2.2 to 3.4 meters whilst less suitable with increasing of water depth. This study concludes that seagrass habitat suitability map with high-resolution pixel size (0.5 meter) can be produced at Merambong Shoal using acoustic data from multibeam echosounder coupled with MaxEnt and underwater video observations.