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Finding the hot-spots within a biodiversity hotspot: fine-scale biological predictions within a submarine canyon using high-resolution acoustic mapping techniques

Finding the hot-spots within a biodiversity hotspot: fine-scale biological predictions within a submarine canyon using high-resolution acoustic mapping techniques
Finding the hot-spots within a biodiversity hotspot: fine-scale biological predictions within a submarine canyon using high-resolution acoustic mapping techniques
Submarine canyons are complex geomorphological features that have been suggested as potential hotspots for biodiversity. However, few canyons have been mapped and studied at high resolution (tens of m). In this study, the four main branches of Whittard Canyon, Northeast Atlantic, were mapped using multibeam and sidescan sonars to examine which environmental variables were most useful in predicting regions of higher biodiversity. The acoustic maps obtained were ground truthed by 13 remotely operated vehicle (ROV) video transects at depths ranging from 650 to 4000 m. Over 100 h of video were collected, and used to identify and georeference megabenthic invertebrate species present within specific areas of the canyon. Both general additive models (GAMs) and random forest (RF) were used to build predictive maps for megafaunal abundance, species richness and biodiversity. Vertical walls had the highest diversity of organisms, particularly when colonized by cold-water corals such as Lophelia pertusa and Solenosmilia variabilis. GAMs and RF gave different predictive maps and external assessment of predictions indicated that the most adequate technique varied based on the response variable considered. By using ensemble mapping approaches, results from more than one model were combined to identify vertical walls most likely to harbour a high biodiversity of organisms or cold-water corals. Such vertical structures were estimated to represent less than 0.1% of the canyon's surface. The approach developed provides a cost-effective strategy to facilitate the location of rare biological communities of conservation importance and guide further sampling efforts to help ensure that appropriate monitoring can be implemented.
Biodiversity, deep-sea ecology, megafauna, predictive habitat modelling, submarine canyons
0173-9565
1256-1276
Robert, Katleen
49e4bfa2-0999-41ec-b50d-65c0f8896583
Jones, Daniel O.B.
44fc07b3-5fb7-4bf5-9cec-78c78022613a
Tyler, Paul A.
d1965388-38cc-4c1d-9217-d59dba4dd7f8
Van Rooij, David
e1d42f21-1fed-475e-b85b-2da9bc77934d
Huvenne, Veerle A.I.
f22be3e2-708c-491b-b985-a438470fa053
Robert, Katleen
49e4bfa2-0999-41ec-b50d-65c0f8896583
Jones, Daniel O.B.
44fc07b3-5fb7-4bf5-9cec-78c78022613a
Tyler, Paul A.
d1965388-38cc-4c1d-9217-d59dba4dd7f8
Van Rooij, David
e1d42f21-1fed-475e-b85b-2da9bc77934d
Huvenne, Veerle A.I.
f22be3e2-708c-491b-b985-a438470fa053

Robert, Katleen, Jones, Daniel O.B., Tyler, Paul A., Van Rooij, David and Huvenne, Veerle A.I. (2014) Finding the hot-spots within a biodiversity hotspot: fine-scale biological predictions within a submarine canyon using high-resolution acoustic mapping techniques. Marine Ecology, 36 (4), 1256-1276. (doi:10.1111/maec.12228).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Submarine canyons are complex geomorphological features that have been suggested as potential hotspots for biodiversity. However, few canyons have been mapped and studied at high resolution (tens of m). In this study, the four main branches of Whittard Canyon, Northeast Atlantic, were mapped using multibeam and sidescan sonars to examine which environmental variables were most useful in predicting regions of higher biodiversity. The acoustic maps obtained were ground truthed by 13 remotely operated vehicle (ROV) video transects at depths ranging from 650 to 4000 m. Over 100 h of video were collected, and used to identify and georeference megabenthic invertebrate species present within specific areas of the canyon. Both general additive models (GAMs) and random forest (RF) were used to build predictive maps for megafaunal abundance, species richness and biodiversity. Vertical walls had the highest diversity of organisms, particularly when colonized by cold-water corals such as Lophelia pertusa and Solenosmilia variabilis. GAMs and RF gave different predictive maps and external assessment of predictions indicated that the most adequate technique varied based on the response variable considered. By using ensemble mapping approaches, results from more than one model were combined to identify vertical walls most likely to harbour a high biodiversity of organisms or cold-water corals. Such vertical structures were estimated to represent less than 0.1% of the canyon's surface. The approach developed provides a cost-effective strategy to facilitate the location of rare biological communities of conservation importance and guide further sampling efforts to help ensure that appropriate monitoring can be implemented.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: September 2014
e-pub ahead of print date: 1 December 2014
Published date: 1 December 2014
Keywords: Biodiversity, deep-sea ecology, megafauna, predictive habitat modelling, submarine canyons
Organisations: Geology & Geophysics, Ocean and Earth Science, Marine Biogeochemistry

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 368623
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/368623
ISSN: 0173-9565
PURE UUID: 5192f602-efcf-4806-9ce9-fe9ce40aa3cf
ORCID for Veerle A.I. Huvenne: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7135-6360

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Date deposited: 05 Sep 2014 08:59
Last modified: 26 Nov 2019 01:47

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