Predictive Habitat Modeling

Marine Conservation Institute is in the process of developing models to predict where deep-sea corals will be found. These maps can then be used for management and conservation purposes to protect these deep-sea coral ecosystems.

Deep-sea coral ecosystems provide essential habitat for many commercial fish species as well as a variety of other organisms, but very few of these areas have been mapped as the time and cost associated with studying the deep seafloor is significant. A good predicative map can help scientists better predict where these mysterious and spectacular deep-sea ecosystems will be found.

We are particularly interested in identifying and mapping known and predicted locations of deep-sea coral ecosystems in US waters. In addition to the modeling work, we are working on improving the understanding among key congressional offices on ocean acidification and developing partnerships with the commercial fishing industry towards the common goal of reducing the ocean acidification threat to fisheries and the US food supply.

In addition to these modeling and policy objectives, Marine Conservation Institute will be actively investigating the potential impacts of ocean acidification on the fisheries and benthic ecosystems of the North Pacific. Our objective is to provide a strong scientific foundation enabling decision-makers to understand the negative impacts of future ocean acidification on sustainable fisheries and cold-water coral habitats that support these fisheries in the eastern North Pacific Ocean. We will brief fishery managers, fishing industry representatives, non-governmental organizations and the US Congress about policy relevant results and mitigation measures. 

Ocean acidification is a common threat to both biological diversity and fisheries and thus provides an opportunity for diverse groups interested in ocean health to speak with a common voice regarding the need to address ocean acidification. This project will identify impacts of increasingly acidified conditions on high latitude, cold-water coral ecosystems, relationships of healthy coral habitats to sustainable fisheries, and the potential economic impact to individuals’ livelihoods and our nation’s food supply.