Combining Distribution and Dispersal Models to Identify a Particularly Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem.

Several biological habitats are protected as they harbour a high abundance and diversity of marine fauna. The vulnerable marine ecosystem formed of the deep-sea sponge Pheronema carpenteri has been observed at particular depths and slope gradients, allowing the prediction of other potentially suitable areas. Different larval dispersal models were run to predict whether the offspring could drift from areas of presence to potential habitat, which showed up to 53.1% of potential habitat reached in one generation of dispersal. However, dispersal did not occur between the known populations in the Hatton Rockall Basin (north) and the Porcupine Bank (south).

“So it used known data to model suitable habitat for Pheronema carpenteri (a deep sea sponge), then what I did was to see where larvae could disperse to based on known presence locations and whether it overlapped with potential habitat, as well as if different areas could be connected” - Edward Wort, Reporting Scientist, Gardline Limited.

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