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Modeling of Suitable Habitats for Deep-Sea Corals in the US Northwest Atlantic

Project Goal

To utilize habitat suitability modeling along with known deep-sea coral presence data and associated environmental information (e.g., bottom depth, water temperature, type of bottom on which the corals growth, etc.) to predict the location of deep-sea corals based on their known habitat preferences.

Geographic Location

Northeast U.S. Coast, offshore Maine to Cape Hatteras, NC

Approach

A large database of deep-sea coral presence records from the late 1800ís to the present already exists. Associated environmental information from the region is being obtained and evaluated for quality and compatibility. The coral presence data and associated environmental variables will be utilized in a predictive habitat suitability model called MaxEnt. A preliminary analysis will be conducted for selected areas, and then the results will be tested in the field.

Results

This project is ongoing. The large database of deep-sea coral presence records from the late 1800ís to the present in the northeast is being reviewed and revised. The associated environmental information from the region is being obtained and evaluated. Once the data is in-hand and processed, the MaxEnt model will be run and a preliminary analysis will be done for selected areas. Results will be tested in the field and better environmental data will be incorporated as it becomes available, in order to enhance our accuracy in predicting coral locations.

Importance to Management

Habitat suitability modeling is a tool that can be used to identify where vulnerable deep-sea corals and deep-sea coral habitats may occur and provide key information on the types of environments in which they live without the enormous costs associated with deep-sea exploration and surveys. Managers can then use this information to target for protection and research those areas with the highest probabilities of finding deep-sea corals.

Fiscal Year 2011 Funding

$46,500

Point of Contact

Vincent G. Guida, Vincent.Guida@noaa.gov
Dave Packer, Dave.Packer@noaa.gov
Amy Drohan, Amy.Drohan@noaa.gov