Project Title: Habitat Suitability Modeling and Field Validation for Deep-Sea Corals in the Northeast
Goal or Purpose

To survey and groundtruth known or suspected deep-sea coral habitats associated with deepwater canyons off the coast of the northeastern US and begin revision of a northeast deep-sea coral habitat suitability model.

Anticipated Management Application(s)

Results of this project will provide data necessary for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regional fishery management councils to draft management alternatives for designating deep-sea coral zones in the Northeast, support the Northeast's Habitat Blueprint Initiative, and add georeferenced records to NOAA’s National Deep-Sea Coral Geodatabase.

Fiscal Funding:
  • FY 2012 @ $75,000

 
Region(s):
  • New England Council
  • Mid-Atlantic Council
Location(s):
  •  None Defined.
Deep-sea corals observed at 1537 m in Gilbert Canyon. Black coral Bathypathes sp. [foreground]; soft coral Paramuricea (?) [background]. Credit: Nizinski et al. NOAA Fisheries NEFSC, WHOI 2012
Project Type:
  • Habitat Suitability Modeling
Point of Contact: Office of the Point of Contact:
  •  None Defined.
Team Members:
  •  None Defined.
Project Title: Habitat Suitability Modeling and Field Validation for Deep-Sea Corals in the Northeast
Methods/Approach

An existing habitat suitability model that was partially funded by this Program in FY11 was improved by: 1) adding additional critical predictor variables and 2) including the Northeast's deep-sea sponge records and finer scale bathymetry data in order to examine specific canyons and slopes. A towed camera system was used to survey canyon areas to characterize benthic habitats and identify areas of coral presence as well as groundtruth areas predicted to be coral hotspots based on data provided from the habitat suitability model, newly collected multibeam data, and historical coral records.

Project Results and Management Outcomes

Based on data collected, knowledge of deep-sea coral diversity and distribution in Northeast canyons has increased exponentially. Deep-sea coral habitat was matched to high-resolution bathymetry maps through ground-truthing of bottom topography. Thus, contemporary, geo-referenced data on deep-sea corals and sponges are also characterized by habitat. The Northeast deep-sea coral habitat suitability model was qualitatively validated. The model correctly predicted suitable coral habitat as well as hotspots of coral abundance and diversity (i.e., Gilbert Canyon). Antipatharians (black corals) were discovered in Gilbert Canyon, which represents new records for this region.

Project Title: Habitat Suitability Modeling and Field Validation for Deep-Sea Corals in the Northeast
Internal References:
 
Backlinks:

FY12_06_image.jpg
Deep-sea corals observed at 1537 m in Gilbert Canyon. Black coral Bathypathes sp. [foreground]; soft coral Paramuricea (?) [background]. Credit: Nizinski et al. NOAA Fisheries NEFSC, WHOI 2012