The modeled distribution of corals and sponges surrounding the Salas y Gómez and Nazca ridges with implications for high seas conservation.

Citation metadata

Date: Sept. 24, 2021
From: PeerJ(Vol. 9)
Publisher: PeerJ. Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 17,196 words
Lexile Measure: 1600L

Document controls

Main content

Abstract :

The Salas y Gómez and Nazca ridges are two adjacent seamount chains off the west coast of South America that collectively contain more than 110 seamounts. The ridges support an exceptionally rich diversity of benthic and pelagic communities, with the highest level of endemism found in any marine environment. Despite some historical fishing in the region, the seamounts are relatively pristine and represent an excellent conservation opportunity to protect a global biodiversity hotspot before it is degraded. One obstacle to effective spatial management of the ridges is the scarcity of direct observations in deeper waters throughout the region and an accompanying understanding of the distribution of key taxa. Species distribution models are increasingly used tools to quantify the distributions of species in data-poor environments. Here, we focused on modeling the distribution of demosponges, glass sponges, and stony corals, three foundation taxa that support large assemblages of associated fauna through the creation of complex habitat structures. Models were constructed at a 1 km.sup.2 resolution using presence and pseudoabsence data, dissolved oxygen, nitrate, phosphate, silicate, aragonite saturation state, and several measures of seafloor topography. Highly suitable habitat for each taxa was predicted to occur throughout the Salas y Gómez and Nazca ridges, with the most suitable habitat occurring in small patches on large terrain features such as seamounts, guyots, ridges, and escarpments. Determining the spatial distribution of these three taxa is a critical first step towards supporting the improved spatial management of the region. While the total area of highly suitable habitat was small, our results showed that nearly all of the seamounts in this region provide suitable habitats for deep-water corals and sponges and should therefore be protected from exploitation using the best available conservation measures.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A676606374