Deep-sea coral assemblages are key components of marine ecosystems that generate habitats for sh and invertebrate communities and act as marine biodiversity hot spots. Because of their life history traits, deep-sea corals are highly vulnerable to human impacts such as shing. They are an indicator of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs), therefore their conservation is essential to preserve marine biodiversity. In the Mediterranean Sea deep-sea coral habitats are associated with commercially important crustaceans, consequently their abundance has dramatically declined due to the e ects of trawling. Marine spatial planning is required to ensure that the conservation of these habitats is achieved. Species distribution models were used to investigate the distribution of two critically endangered octocorals (Funiculina quadrangularis and Isidella elongata) in the central Mediterranean as a function of environmental and sheries variables. Results show that both species exhibit species- speci c habitat preferences and spatial patterns in response to environmental variables, but the impact of trawling on their distribution di ered. In particular F. quadrangularis can overlap with shing activities, whereas I. elongata occurs exclusively where shing is low or absent. This study represents the rst attempt to identify key areas for the protection of soft and compact mud VMEs in the central Mediterranean Sea.

Species distribution models of two critically endangered deep-sea octocorals reveal fishing impacts on vulnerable marine ecosystems in central Mediterranean Sea

PIRAINO, Stefano;
2017

Abstract

Deep-sea coral assemblages are key components of marine ecosystems that generate habitats for sh and invertebrate communities and act as marine biodiversity hot spots. Because of their life history traits, deep-sea corals are highly vulnerable to human impacts such as shing. They are an indicator of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs), therefore their conservation is essential to preserve marine biodiversity. In the Mediterranean Sea deep-sea coral habitats are associated with commercially important crustaceans, consequently their abundance has dramatically declined due to the e ects of trawling. Marine spatial planning is required to ensure that the conservation of these habitats is achieved. Species distribution models were used to investigate the distribution of two critically endangered octocorals (Funiculina quadrangularis and Isidella elongata) in the central Mediterranean as a function of environmental and sheries variables. Results show that both species exhibit species- speci c habitat preferences and spatial patterns in response to environmental variables, but the impact of trawling on their distribution di ered. In particular F. quadrangularis can overlap with shing activities, whereas I. elongata occurs exclusively where shing is low or absent. This study represents the rst attempt to identify key areas for the protection of soft and compact mud VMEs in the central Mediterranean Sea.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11587/413986
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