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Provincial bioregions of Australia's EEZ

Note: This metadata describes the dataset in accordance with the ANZLIC (Australia New Zealand Land Information Council) Core Metadata Guidelines Version 2.

Dataset citation

ANZLIC unique identifier: ANZCW0703007502

Title: Provincial bioregions of Australia's EEZ


Custodian: Geoscience Australia

Jurisdiction: Australia



The data set provides outlines for the maximum extent of the benthic provincial bioregions of Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone for regions beyond the shelf break, including the offshore island territories but not the Australian Antarctic Territory. These data were compiled in 2004 as part of the draft national benthic marine bioregionalisation which is designed to provide improved knowledge of Australia's seabed. The Provincial Bioregions of the seabed represent units of that contain broad patterns in biodiversity, as represented by deep-water demersal fish assemblages, based on the assumption that the demersal fish distributions are a surrogate of marine faunal distributions. Below 2,000 m water depth, the boundaries of the benthic Provincial Bioregions are defined solely by the Geomorphic Features data set. A total of 24 benthic Provincial Bioregions were defined on this basis, including 15 core bioregions representing areas of endemism, and 9 transition zones representing areas of faunal mixing. The benthic Provincial Bioregion data set includes the names of units in the attribute table as well as the area, perimeter, and mean, maximum, minimum, and standard deviation water depths.

ANZLIC search words:

  • GEOSCIENCES Geomorphology Mapping
  • MARINE Mapping

Spatial domain:

locality map

Geographic extent name: AUSTRALIA INCLUDING EXTERNAL TERRITORIES - AUSAAT - Australia - Australia

Geographic extent polygon: 90 -9, 175 -9, 175 -55, 90 -55, 90 -9,

Note: The format for each Geographic extent name is: Name - Identifier - Category - Jurisdiction (as appropriate) See GEN Register

Geographic bounding box:
North bounding latitude: -9 °
South bounding latitude: -55 °
East bounding longitude: 175 °
West bounding longitude: 90 °

Data currency

Beginning date: 2002-07-01

Ending date: Not Known

Dataset status

Progress: In Progress

Maintenance and update frequency: Not Known


Stored data format:
DIGITAL - shp ArcView shape file ArcView Geographic WGS84
Available format type:
DIGITAL - shp ArcView shape file ArcView Geographic WGS84

Access constraints:

No restrictions

Free Data Download

Data quality


The benthic Provincial Bioregions were defined in 2004 as part of a program run by Geoscience Australia, CSIRO Marine Research and the National Oceans Office to create a spatial inventory of large-scale benthic biogeographical regions for Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone. The Provincial Bioregions were defined by the regional structure in demersal fishes as represented by a one-dimensional 'string' made up of 281 nodes that correspond to the 500 m isobath around the Australian mainland. The analysis of the demersal fish data was undertaken by CSIRO Marine Research (Last et al., 2004). None of the offshore island territories were included in this assessment and each island territory was considered a separate bioregion. The boundaries of the Provincial Bioregions below 2,000 m water depth were defined solely by the geomorphic features, which were defined by the International Hydrographic Office (IHO, 2002), and were identified using a 250 m spatial resolution bathymetry model with reference to previously published geological studies. In the analysis of the demersal fish data, the boundaries between the Provincial Bioregions were defined by a Jaccard Analysis of the distributions. The final boundaries were drawn by eye around the boundaries of geomorphic features by a panel of scientific experts at a series of workshops with reference to previous studies. When completed, the boundaries defined the separate polygons and they were stored as an ARC/GIS shape file. Care was taken to include as much biological information as possible when positioning the boundaries, particularly in shallow water (<500 m).

Positional accuracy:

Positional accuracy of the boundaries varies depending on the source data. Below 2,000 m where the Provincial Bioregions are defined solely by geomorphic features the positional accuracy is determined by the quality of the bathymetric, seismic reflection and sediment data, and the approximate accuracy of the boundaries is probably +/-10 km. Some information about the positional accuracy of the demersal fish data is provided in Last et al., 2004.

Attribute accuracy:

No attribute for data quality exists at this stage. For Provincial Bioregion boundaries defined solely by geomorphology, this attribute will be updated once a reliability map for the source data has been generated.

Logical Consistency:

Regional data sets were then compiled as a single national coverage. Tests were also carried out on the data for completeness, correct spatial representation, attribute accuracy, and logical consistency and correctness.


Coverage: The Provincial Bioregions cover all of the Exclusive Economic Zone beyond the shelf break. The deep water demersal fish analysis was carried out from data collated from 240 CSIRO research surveys across the EEZ supplemented with data from external fisheries agencies in Australia. The data consisted of specimen and point data and catch composition data which revealed the distributional patterns of Australia's deep-water demersal fish fauna for 1,489 species from 494 genera (representing 121 families). The data included details of the spatial distributions (i.e., latitudes and longitudes) and depth distributions for each species, where known. The data presents the most recent biogeographical assessment of deep-sea demersal fishes in Australia. The data are most reliable for the upper to mid slope regions (<1,000 m water depth). Locations and species data underlying the Provincial Bioregion boundaries are provided in Last et al., 2004.

The raw data that makes up the bathymetric grid upon which the boundaries beyond 2,000 m are based is derived from numerous sources and has been obtained opportunistically hence the actual data coverage is generally patchy and irregular. A data density map for the bathymetry grid is not yet available.

Classification: The Provincial Bioregions defined by this dataset are well-established classifications and represent large bio-geographic areas defined principally by the broad-scale distribution of benthic marine fauna. The geomorphic features defining the bioregion boundaries below 2,000 m are internationally recognised categories of seabed features (IHO, 2002). Further details of these terms and documentation underlying their adoption by IHO may be found at the following internet address: (IHO, 2002).

Verification: Field verification was limited to reviewing published literature within the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone.

Contact information

Contact organisation: Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) (GA)
Contact position: Manager Client Services
Mail address: Cnr Jerrabomberra Ave and Hindmarsh Dr
Mail address: GPO Box 378
Locality: Canberra
State: ACT
Country: Australia
Postcode: 2601
Telephone: 02 6249 9966
Facsimile: 02 6249 9960
Electronic mail address:

Metadata information

Metadata date: 2013-03-08

Additional metadata

Metadata reference XHTML:

Metadata reference XML:


IHO, 2002.

Last, P., Lyne, V., Yearsley, G., Gledhill, D., Gomon, M., Rees, T. and White, W., 2004. Validation of National Demersal Fish Datasets for the Regionalisation of the Australian Continental Slope and Outer Shelf. Draft CSIRO Report to the National Oceans Office, Sept, 2004. CSIRO Marine Research, Hobart.

Authors:Heap, A.D. Harris, P. Last, P. Lyne, V. Woods, M.