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Filling the gaps: predicting the distribution of temperate reef biota using high resolution biological and acoustic data


Hill, NA and Lucieer, V and Barrett, NS and Anderson, TJ and Williams, SB, Filling the gaps: predicting the distribution of temperate reef biota using high resolution biological and acoustic data, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 147 pp. 137-147. ISSN 0272-7714 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2014.05.019


Management of the marine environment is often hampered by a lack of comprehensive spatial information on the distribution of diversity and the bio-physical processes structuring regional ecosystems. This is particularly true in temperate reef systems beyond depths easily accessible to divers. Yet these systems harbor a diversity of sessile life that provide essential ecosystem services, sustain fisheries and, as with shallower ecosystems, are also increasingly vulnerable to anthropogenic impacts and environmental change. Here we use cutting-edge tools (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles and ship-borne acoustics) and analytical approaches (predictive modelling) to quantify and map these highly productive ecosystems. We find the occurrence of key temperate-reef biota can be explained and predicted using standard (depth) and novel (texture) surrogates derived from multibeam acoustic data, and geographic surrogates. This suggests that combinations of fine-scale processes, such as light limitation and habitat complexity, and broad-scale processes, such as regional currents and exposure regimes, are important in structuring these diverse deep-reef communities. While some dominant habitat forming biota, including canopy algae, were widely distributed, others, including gorgonians and sea whips, exhibited patchy and restricted distributions across the reef system. In addition to providing the first quantitative and full coverage maps of reef diversity for this area, our modelling revealed that offshore reefs represented a regional diversity hotspot that is of high ecological and conservation value. Regional reef systems should not, therefore, be considered homogenous units in conservation planning and management. Full-coverage maps of the predicted distribution of biota (and associated uncertainty) are likely to be increasingly valuable, not only for conservation planning, but in the ongoing management and monitoring of these less-accessible ecosystems.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:biodiversity, surrogates, species distribution model, multibeam, autonomous underwater vehicle, reef, temperate
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Hill, NA (Dr Nicole Hill)
UTAS Author:Lucieer, V (Associate Professor Vanessa Lucieer)
UTAS Author:Barrett, NS (Associate Professor Neville Barrett)
ID Code:93016
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:33
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2014-07-07
Last Modified:2017-11-01

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