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Predictive Modeling for the Gulf of Mexico: Presence/Absence Component

Project Goal

To improve the development of predictive models for deep sea coral habitat in the northern Gulf of Mexico, by incorporating additional presence/absence records.

Geographic Location

Northern Gulf of Mexico


Additional records of deep sea coral were obtained through reviewing archived reports, video, and still photos. Using MaxEnt, historical records of deep sea coral presence and/or absence and abundance were merged with potential environmental predictor variables to create regional habitat suitability prediction maps.


We were able to generate improved maps of potential deep-sea coral distribution in the northern Gulf of Mexico for 19 types of deep corals, including a variety of habitat-forming species and groups, and have made these maps available in digital format.

Importance to Management

These models have assisted in the prioritization of areas for field surveys and reduced the number of costly ship days needed to accurately assess the distribution of deep-sea corals in the Gulf of Mexico. They provide valuable information for NOAA and regional fishery management councils to help plan and evaluate habitat management and conservation alternatives. Models are also useful to NOAA and other federal agencies such as BOEM to assess risks and potential impacts. For example, results from this project may help improve understanding of resources potentially impacted by the Deepwater Horizon event, and have been used in development of Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps for oil spill response and risk analysis.


NOAA/NOS/NCCOS Project Webpage  (data can be downloaded at the bottom of this webpage)

Fiscal Year 2012 Funding


Point of Contact

Brian Kinlan, Brian.Kinlan@noaa.gov