EMODnet Seabed Habitats Data Exchange Formats

A standardised attribute table format simplifies the process of combining multiple habitat maps and increases the ease of use for the end user. We call this the Data Exchange Format (DEF).

For the purpose of EMODnet Seabed Habitats, data are required to be submitted as an ESRI shapefile (.shp) in an updated version of the the MESH DEFs as they provide a tried and tested method of standardising maps for collation and conflation. The MESH DEFs were originally published in 2005 as part of the EU funded MESH project.

For habitat maps, the type of DEF required depends on the habitat map itself:

  • If the map cannot be translated into the EUNIS classification system and is not concerning habitats from Annex I of the EU's Habitats Directive, the GIS data should be supplied in the Original Habitat DEF.
  • If the map can be translated into the EUNIS classification system, it should be undertaken and the GIS data supplied in the Translated Habitat DEF.
  • If the map concerns habitats from Annex I of the EU's Habitats Directive, the GIS data should be supplied in the Habitats Directive DEF.
  • A fourth type of DEF is required for study area polygons that accompany survey data, this is known as the Study Area DEF.

This webpage describes each of the Data Exchange Formats and provides guidance for their use. The required files and an explanation of the steps for offline viewing are available in the downloadable data provider package.

Attention: Whilst fields below that are not marked as mandatory "(M)" are optional and are not required to contain values in the final submission, the fields themselves must still exist in the submitted shapefile in order for the submission to be valid.

To view/hide the guidance for a specific Data Exchange Format, please click on the relevant heading.

The attribute table for a habitat map to be submitted to EMODnet Seabed Habitats should be converted into the Original Habitat DEF (Table 1). The final attribute table should contain all fields listed below.

If the habitat map can be translated into the EUNIS habitat classification system, the table should be extended into the Translated Habitat DEF.

The Original Habitat DEF contains only those fields necessary to display your habitat map on the interactive map, and allows others a simple, standardised format to view and analyse your data.

All fields marked as "(M)" are mandatory and must be completed for the submission to be accepted.


Table 1: Original Data Exchange Format (DEF)
Field name Data type Length/ Precision Description
GUI (M) Text 8

The globally unique identifier (GUI) of the habitat map.
Consists of 2 letter country code (which corresponds to ISO3166-1) plus 6 digits.

For example, a dataset from the United Kingdom would be written GB000005.

This value can be obtained from your country's project partner and should be the same for all features within a habitat map

POLYGON (M) Long integer 8

Permanent identification number for each polygon which must be manually created as ascending integers 1,2,3... etc.

Do not use the value 0, as this can cause errors on the interactive map.

This label for each polygon is necessary to identify the original polygon because the FID field may change during the processing of datasets.

ORIG_HAB (M) Text 254

The information identifying the habitat type present in the polygon. This can be either a code or text (the description of the habitat).

ORIG_CLASS Text 254

A brief description of the habitat classification system in which the map is presented.

Whilst not mandatory, this provides the end-user with additional perspective on the habitat described and may increase the potential uses of the map itself.

 

All irrelevant fields must be deleted from the attribute table before submission to EMODnet Seabed Habitats. If the map is to be converted to the Translated Habitat DEF, fields should be retained until the translation to EUNIS if they are useful for the translation

If a habitat map is detailed enough to be translated into the EUNIS classification, it is converted into the Translated Habitat DEF (Table 2). The final attribute table must contain all fields listed below.

The Translated Habitat DEF contains only those fields necessary to display your habitat map on the interactive map, and allows others a simple, standardised format to view, analyse and compare your data with other European submissions.

All fields marked "(M)" are mandatory and must be completed for the submission to be accepted.


 

Table 2: Translated Habitat Data Exchange Format (DEF)
Field name Data type Length/ Precision Description
GUI (M) Text 8

The globally unique identifier (GUI) of the habitat map.
Consists of 2 letter country code (which corresponds to ISO3166-1) plus 6 digits.

For example, a dataset from the United Kingdom would be written GB000005.

This value can be obtained from your country's project partner and should be the same for all features within a habitat map

POLYGON (M) Long integer 8

Permanent identification number for each polygon which must be manually created as ascending integers 1,2,3... etc.

Do not use the value 0, as this can cause errors on the interactive map.

This label for each polygon is necessary to identify the original polygon because the FID field may change during the processing of datasets.

ORIG_HAB (M) Text 254

The information identifying the habitat type present in the polygon. This can be either a code or text (the description of the habitat).

ORIG_CLASS Text 254

Briefly describe the habitat classification system in which the original map was presented and in which the value in ORIG_HAB is described.

HAB_TYPE (M) Text 20

This is the code assigned to the polygon after translation. It must be a habitat code existing in the current form of the EUNIS habitat classification system and must contain no comments.

An example of a valid value for this field is "A4.2".

VERSION (M) Text 50

Translated habitat classification version (e.g. "EUNIS 2007-11")

DET_MTHD Text 254

Enter a short description of the method used to translate the original habitat map. Examples include:

  • Manual translation: Each EUNIS habitat within the map was manually determined and entered by an expert.
  • Correlation table: The translation was performed automatically using known correlations between the original and EUNIS classification systems. 
DET_NAME (M) Text 254

The name of the individual and/or organisation who determined the EUNIS habitat from the original habitat.

DET_DATE (M) Date -

Date that the EUNIS habitat was determined/translated from the original habitat.

TRAN_COM Text 254

Any comments on the translation from original habitat type to the target habitat type.


For example, include brief information from survey reports which justifies the translation decision (especially pertinent if the relationship between the data in the ORIG_HAB field and in the HAB_TYPE field is not clear).


Also include reasons for assignment of a particular target habitat type, such as the volume and type of additional data used, and use of expert judgement.

T_RELATE (M) Text 1

Define the relationship between the original habitat and the translated (EUNIS) habitat. This information is potentially helpful to a user viewing the map, to determine the exact nature of the habitat relationship, especially if the translation is inexact (any symbol other than "=" or "S").


The relationship must be described by a one-character symbol chosen from Table 3.

VAL_COMM Text 254

Record any polygon specific comments resulting from the validation of the translated map using an independent dataset; for example you may judge that there are spatial errors within the map (sublittoral habitat types appearing in the littoral zone and vice versa).


Where possible, all translated maps should be validated with independent additional dataset(s). It is not possible to know whether inconsistencies are due to errors in the validation data, the original map, or the translation process. However, any suspected errors or disagreements between different datasets should be highlighted.

All irrelevant fields must be deleted from the attribute table once translation is complete.

 

Table 3: Translation relationship codes
T_RELATE symbol Translation relationship Example
= Original habitat is the same as translated habitat

Original Habitat: "Circalittoral rock in a high energy environment"

Translated Habitat: A4.1

~ Original habitat is nearly the same as translated habitat

Original Habitat: "Circalittoral rock in an energetic environment"

Translated Habitat: A4.1

> Translated habitat is contained within original habitat

Original Habitat: "Saltmarsh"

Translated Habitat: A2.5

< Original habitat is contained within translated habitat

Original Habitat: "High energy circalittoral rock with faunal communities"

Translated Habitat: A4.1

# The definition of the original habitat partially overlaps with that of the translated habitat

Original Habitat: "Potamogeton pectinatus community"

Translated Habitat: A5.542

S Original habitat is the source of the translated habitat

Similar to "=". Use when the translated EUNIS habitat was created as a result of a successful submission of the original habitat.

Please see the Converting maps section of the archived MESH Mapping Guide for further guidance about how to translate habitat maps into the EUNIS classification.

The Habitats Directive DEF should be use if a habitat map concerns features described in Annex I of the Habitats Directive, it contains the minimum fields necessary to provide information regarding the extent of Annex I features.

All fields marked "(M)" are mandatory and must be completed for the submission to be accepted.

 

Table 4: Habitats Directive Data Exchange Format (DEF)
Field name Data type Length/ Precision Description
GUI (M) Text 8

The globally unique identifier (GUI) of the habitat map.
Consists of 2 letter country code (which corresponds to ISO3166-1) plus 6 digits.

For example, a dataset from the United Kingdom would be written GB000005.

This value can be obtained from your country's project partner and should be the same for all features within a habitat map

POLYGON (M) Long integer 8

Permanent identification number for each polygon which must be manually created as ascending integers 1,2,3... etc.

Do not use the value 0, as this can cause errors on the interactive map.

This label for each polygon is necessary to identify the original polygon because the FID field may change during the processing of datasets.

ANNEXI (M) Text 4

Code of habitat, as listed in the official interpretation manual.

SUBTYPE Text 254

Subtype of habitat, as listed in the official interpretation manual if applicable.

CONFIDENCE (M) Text 10

Confidence in presence and extent of habitat described by the data.

Use only one of the following:

  • High
  • Potential

Habitat maps submitted in the Habitats Directive Data Exchange Format must be accompanied by a Study Area Polygon. The "SUM_CONF" field of the Study Area Data Exchange Format does not require completion in scenario.

Study Area shapefiles – rectangular bounding boxes describing the extent covered by habitat maps – should be supplied in the Study Area DEF.

The Study Area DEF contains only four fields, linking the study area to its respective habitat map and supplying the map’s calculated MESH confidence score. All fields are mandatory, although "UUID" may be filled in by your country's project partner after submission.


 

Table 5: Study Area Data Exchange Format (DEF)
Field name Data type Length/ Precision Description
GUI (M) Text 8

Unique reference for the study.

This must match the GUI of the habitat map to which the study area relates.

UUID (M*) Text 36

UUID of ICES Geonetwork metadata record in the form of:
xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx

If the habitat map already has valid metadata on the ICES Geonetwork portal then the "UUID" value should be entered.

This value can be found in two ways:

  1. The value after "uuid=" in the URL of the permanent link to the metadata record, for example the UUID of this record is 26f527ac-41f2-4c86-a443-3f655723efdf.
  2. The value of "File identifier" within the ICES Geonetwork metadata itself.

Warning: The UUID must be entered exactly as stated in the metadata and must conform to the pattern xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx (including all dashes) to pass validation.

AVAILABLE (M) Text 13

Availability of habitat data.

The value must be one of the three options :

  • View/Download
  • View only
  • Not available

If you wish your data to be fully available to the public, please enter the value of "View/Download".

If you do not wish users to be able to download your data, but with to all them to view your data on our interactive map or Web Map Service (WMS), please enter the value of "View only".

The value of "Not available" should be used if you are not intending to supply habitat data itself but would like to inform the public of its existence.

If this is the case, users will be able to see the study area bounding box, but will be directed to the data owner (via email) for access to the data itself.

SUM_CONF (M**) Short integer -

This is the value of the "Total" MESH confidence score given to the map during the data submission process.

* If the habitat map does not yet have valid metadata entered on the ICES Geonetwork portal, then your country’s project partner will upload your metadata and enter the UUID value as required as part of the ingestion process.

** The "SUM_CONF" field is not required when submitting a habitat map in the Habitats Directive Data Exchange Format.

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