Ecosystem scale, adaptive management of the marine environment, emphasised by the Convention on Biological Diversity, requires a clear understanding of the spatial and temporal dynamics of the system in question. Classical species-based biogeography alone is not sufficient to describe those dynamics at the appropriate scale for whole ecosystem management. A novel, multidisciplinary, complex systems approach has been developed for characterising the biogeographic distribution of benthic fauna in a temperate shelf sea system through application of remote sensing to the principles of benthic-pelagic coupling. A six year time series of satellite remote sensing data (AVHRR SST and SeaWiFS Chl-α, LwN(555, 670)) was analysed using multivariate statistical techniques to identify the emergent patterns (temporal and spatial) of water column physical structure and associated patterns of productivity in North-West European Shelf waters. Three persistent biogeographic regions were identified from horizontal patterns in .sea surface properties. Comparison with the results of an epibenthic field survey, have shown gradients of epibenthic megafaunal distribution to correspond closely to the biogeographic regions identified by remote sensing. The application of this technique to marine monitoring programmes and ecosystem management is discussed.

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