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In this paper, we address seabed characterization and recognition in sonar images using keypoint-based approaches. Keypoint-based texture recognition has recently emerged as a powerful framework to address invariances to contrast change and geometric distortions. We investigate here to which extent keypoint-based techniques are relevant for sonar texture analysis which also involves such invariance issues. We deal with both the characterization of the visual signatures of the keypoints and the spatial patterns they form. In this respect, spatial statistics are considered. We report a quantitative evaluation for sonar seabed texture data sets comprising six texture classes such as mud, rock, and gravely sand. We clearly demonstrate the improvement brought by keypoint-based techniques compared to classical features used for sonar texture analysis such as cooccurrence and Gabor features. In this respect, we demonstrate that the joint characterization of the visual signatures of the visual keypoints and their spatial organization reaches the best recognition performances (about 97% of correct classification w.r.t. 70% and 81% using cooccurrence and Gabor features). Furthermore, the combination of difference of Gaussian keypoints and scale-invariant feature transform descriptors is recommended as the most discriminating keypoint-based framework for the analysis of sonar seabed textures.