4th International Submarine Canyon Symposium (INCISE2018)

5-7 November 2018, Shenzhen, CHINA

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This is the detail of Potential dispersal and seascape connectedness of Lophelia pertusa in the Mediterranean Sea: the role of submarine canyons

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Fábio L Matos
Joan B. Company, Marina R. Cunha
Abstarct Title
Potential dispersal and seascape connectedness of Lophelia pertusa in the Mediterranean Sea: the role of submarine canyons
Abstarct Body
Ecosystem connectivity determines the species distribution, the metapopulation dynamics and population resilience. It is a guiding principle in marine conservation planning, particularly for spatial prioritization and the design of networks of marine protected areas. Cold-water corals (CWC) are among the most vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems. In this work, we simulate transport of Lophelia pertusa larvae in the Mediterranean Sea, estimate their potential dispersal and the habitat availability, based on the suitability and spatial configuration of the seascape. The larval transport simulations were performed using a biophysical modelling tool built in a Lagrangian framework and accounted for inter-annual variability of Mediterranean Sea. Habitat availability was analysed using a graph-based approach taking into consideration the attributes of habitat areas. We concluded that connectivity among Mediterranean ecoregions was weak and that the intensification of climate-driven events (e.g., dense shelf water cascading) may worsen this scenario. The potential exchange of larvae between colonies within the same ecoregion was significant, favoring population resilience to local disturbances. The analyses of larval transport and habitat availability allowed identifying some of the areas characterized by the presence of canyons (e.g. Gulf of Lion, the Catalan and Apulian margins, and the Bari Canyon) as habitat areas playing an important role in the connectivity of Lophelia pertusa Mediterranean populations. However, these habitat areas are subjected to intense anthropogenic pressures, which, allied to the effects of climate change, may impose greater challenges to their conservation. We discuss the potential application of our results in designing future surveys targeting L. pertusa and as a framework for future empirical studies based on spatial explicit information with interest for the policy and management of Mediterranean seascape.
Session 4: Submarine canyon conservation
Presentation Type
Poster Presentation
Connectivity: Lophelia pertusa; Habitat availability; Biophysical modelling; Mediterranean Sea

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