This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ Preprints) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
Deep-sea ecosystems are being impacted by anthropogenic stressors, such as trawling and oil-gas exploration. Protection of these ecosystems is delayed by limited understanding of spatial distribution, suitable habitat, species associations, and recruitment. Imagery was analyzed from the Laurentian Channel AOI and 3 canyons (Corsair, Georges, Fiddlers Cove) on the western Scotian Slope in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. We used two sampling designs, exploratory linear transects and a systematic-cluster transect array and will compare the information that can be extracted from each method. Megaepifaunal biodiversity, abundance, and species-species associations were identified at each site. For example, at Fiddlers Cove, different types of Gorgonian corals (e.g. Acanella, Desmophyllum, and stoloniferous coral), soft corals, and sponges occurred mainly on outcrops; sea pens and anemones, along with large colonies of Paragorgia arborea were present in Corsair Canyon; and several Gorgonian corals, anemones, lobsters, and Holothuroidea were present in Georges Canyon. We will use spatial analyses to measure spatial structure at local and regional scales, identify species-environment associations, and predict suitable habitat for deep-sea megaepifauna. Overall, the study will provide a broader understanding of deep-sea megaepifaunal ecosystems, and develop recommendations for a deep-sea MPA monitoring framework to achieve effective conservation that promotes biodiversity.
This is an abstract which has been accepted for the WCMB.