W RK PACKAGE 2
Theme: Broad-scale Mapping
Role of geomorphology in assessing shifting species patterns in a changing ocean climate
Individual species possess particular physiological characteristics which enables them to tolerate and strive under specific sets of environmental conditions. By modelling species-environment relationships, it becomes possible to predict how marine species and ecosystems may respond to specific changes (e.g. climate change, ocean acidification, human activities). Based on predicted temperature increases, poleward range shifts are predicted for many species, but owing to the scarcity of high resolution bathymetric datasets, the role of adequate substrate availability in driving habitat suitability in areas of predicted range shifts has not been addressed.
The aims of WP2 are to:
Identify preferred habitat characteristics of a suite of benthic species of commercial (e.g. lobster, scallop, snow crab) and conservation (corals and sponges) importance based on broad-scale seafloor geomorphology and substrata [Tasks 2.2.1, 2.2.2];
Build current habitat suitability models using the abiotic variable layers and habitat maps created under WP 2.1 coupled with information from regional oceanographic models [Task 2.2.4];
Model changing distribution (range) patterns of these species over the NW Atlantic caused by predicted oceanographic changes, and evaluate the role that available benthic habitat will have on future distribution patterns [tasks 2.2.3, 2.2.5].