Use of predictive habitat modelling to assess the distribution and extent of the current protection of ‘listed’ deep-sea habitats

Date: October 8, 2012

Source: Diversity and Distributions, A Journal of Conservation Biology

Authors: Rebecca E. Ross and Kerry L. Howell


Aim: To demonstrate the application of predictive species distribution modelling methods to habitat mapping and assessment of percentage area-based conservation targets.

Location: The NE Atlantic deep sea (UK and Irish extended continental shelf limits).

Main conclusions:

To date, decisions on area closures for the protection of ‘listed’ deep-sea habitats have been based on maps of recorded presence of species that are taken as being indicative of that habitat. Predictive habitat modelling may provide a useful method of better estimating the extent of listed habitats, providing direction for future MPA establishment and a means of assessing MPA network effectiveness against politically set percentage targets. Given the coarse resolution of the model, percentages should be taken as maximal figures, with habitat occurrence likely to be less prevalent in reality.


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