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  • 2015-2019  (1)
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    Publication Date: 2018-03-06
    Description: Spatial management of vulnerable benthic ecosystem components such as deep-sea corals and sponges requires adequate maps of their distribution. These maps are often based on statistical models of survey data. The objective of this project was to validate the predictions of existing presence or absence and abundance models of deep-sea corals and sponges in the Aleutian Islands that were based on bottom trawl survey data. Model validation was conducted by comparing bottom trawl survey model predictions to the observations of an in situ camera survey conducted at randomly selected locations. The measures of goodness of fit (area-under-the-receiver-operator-curve, AUC) for the bottom trawl survey model predictions of camera survey observations ranged from 0.59 to 0.77 (for sponges and coral, respectively) and indicated that the bottom trawl survey models predicted the probability of presence for corals accurately across the Aleutian Islands. The bottom trawl survey models explained as little as 3% of the variability in Stylasteridae density and up to 17% of the variability in coral density. These results indicate that models of deep-sea coral distributions based on presence and absence data from bottom trawl surveys can be accurate and can provide useful information for spatial management of these vulnerable taxa. However, for some other taxa, such as sponges, care should be taken interpreting the results of bottom trawl survey models. An interesting finding of this study was that the residuals from the bottom trawl survey model-camera density relationships were negative in areas that remained open to fishing after 2005, possibly indicating an effect of continued bottom trawling on the abundance of corals in these areas. This study highlights the importance of validating models of species distribution using independent surveys, so that the results can be used with confidence to support decision-making processes.
    Print ISSN: 1054-3139
    Electronic ISSN: 1095-9289
    Topics: Biology , Geosciences , Physics
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