Species Distribution Models of Tropical Deep-Sea Snappers

Celine Gomez, Ashley Williams, Simon Nicol, Camille Mellin, Kim Loeun, Corey Bradshaw

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Deep-sea fisheries provide an important source of protein to Pacific Island countries and territories that are highly dependent on fish for food security. However, spatial management of these deep-sea habitats is hindered by insufficient data. We developed species distribution models using spatially limited presence data for the main harvested species in the Western Central Pacific Ocean. We used bathymetric and water temperature data to develop presence-only species distribution models for the commercially exploited deep-sea snappers Etelis Cuvier 1828, Pristipomoides Valenciennes 1830, and Aphareus Cuvier 1830. We evaluated the performance of four different algorithms (CTA, GLM, MARS, and MAXENT) within the BIOMOD framework to obtain an ensemble of predicted distributions. We projected these predictions across the Western Central Pacific Ocean to produce maps of potential deep-sea snapper distributions in 32 countries and territories. Depth was consistently the best predictor of presence for all species groups across all models. Bathymetric slope was consistently the poorest predictor. Temperature at depth was a good predictor of presence for GLM only. Model precision was highest for MAXENT and CTA. There were strong regional patterns in predicted distribution of suitable habitat, with the largest areas of suitable habitat (> 35% of the Exclusive Economic Zone) predicted in seven South Pacific countries and territories (Fiji, Matthew & Hunter, Nauru, New Caledonia, Tonga, Vanuatu and Wallis & Futuna). Predicted habitat also varied among species, with the proportion of predicted habitat highest for Aphareus and lowest for Etelis. Despite data paucity, the relationship between deep-sea snapper presence and their environments was sufficiently strong to predict their distribution across a large area of the Pacific Ocean. Our results therefore provide a strong baseline for designing monitoring programs that balance resource exploitation and conservation planning, and for predicting future distributions of deep-sea snappers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0127395
    Number of pages17
    JournalPLoS One
    Volume10
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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