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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 660:69-93 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13564

Species distribution models for deep-water coral habitats that account for spatial uncertainty in trap-camera fishery data

Beau Doherty1,*, Sean P. Cox2, Christopher N. Rooper3,4, Samuel D. N. Johnson1,2, Allen R. Kronlund4

1Landmark Fisheries Research, 211-2414 St. Johns Street, Port Moody, BC V3H 2B1, Canada
2Quantitative Fisheries Research Group, School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
3Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115, USA
4Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 3190 Hammond Bay Road, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6N7, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Bottom-contact fisheries present risks to vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) such as deep-water coral and sponge communities. Managing these risks requires better knowledge about VME spatial distribution within fishing areas. In this paper, we develop predictive species distribution models for alcyonacean (Order Alcyonacea) corals at SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie Seamount (SK-B) in British Columbia, Canada, based on direct presence/absence observations obtained from deep-water cameras attached to commercial fishing gear. We obtained in situ presence/absence observations of deep-water corals (Order Alcyonacea, Order Antipatharia, Order Pennatulacea, Family Stylasteridae) and sponges (Class Hexactinellida, Class Demospongiae) at 124 locations during commercial fishing trips at the SK-B marine protected area. We developed species distribution models for alcyonacean corals at SK-B and compared the performance of models using 4 different estimators of trap landing position (surface drop position and 3 Bayesian estimators) to account for spatial uncertainty in observation locations. We found that the different estimators for landing position affected variable selection, model performance, and model predictions. The best-fitting models using the 4 different landing position estimators had mean AUC values ranging from 0.71 to 0.78 and maximum kappa values ranging from 0.36 to 0.47. This study demonstrates how collaborative research surveys with commercial fisheries can provide fine-scale spatial data for coral and sponge habitat mapping using an approach that is scalable for benthic habitat risk assessment for large, possibly remote, areas where fisheries operate.


KEY WORDS: Sensitive benthic habitats · Bottom-contact fishing · Quantitative risk assessment · Presence/absence data · Vulnerable marine ecosystems · Seamount


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Cite this article as: Doherty B, Cox SP, Rooper CN, Johnson SDN, Kronlund AR (2021) Species distribution models for deep-water coral habitats that account for spatial uncertainty in trap-camera fishery data. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 660:69-93. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13564

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