Far off the South American coast lie submerged mountain 脊 that stretch nearly 2,沿着海底000英里. 虽然这些海底山很深, 远程, 而神秘, habitat modeling offers insight into what animals live in these biodiversity hotspots. 世界杯买球盘口的海洋生物地理学家. 山姆格鲁吉亚 discusses a new publication detailing how cutting-edge species distribution models are used to support conservation efforts on the last exploration frontier of our planet – the 公海.

作为一名海洋生物学家,我花在海洋上的时间出奇地少. 我的工作主要是分析数据, 创建地图, 和 writing code for ecological models – all in an effort to help us better underst和 the areas that we need to protect. 我在西雅图的办公桌, WA可能看起来不像潜水艇的飞行员座位, 但每天我都变成了深海探险家, creating habitat maps that reveal important information about dazzling 海洋capes that few humans have seen in person. Although I’ve been lucky enough to go out on ships 和 submersibles to explore ocean ecosystems, I’ve discovered that species distribution modeling might be the key to building a strong scientific case for conserving fragile ecosystems that exist beyond the reach of costly research expeditions. 目前,我正在与 公海联盟的珊瑚礁 to put these cutting-edge modeling techniques to the test using data from the coast of South America. What our models have revealed will help guide a suite of ongoing science 和 conservation efforts throughout the region.

The Salas y Gómez 和 Nazca 脊 are adjacent seamount chains that lie offshore the coasts 和 Peru. 山脊包含超过110座海底山, the vast majority occurring in waters that are outside of any national jurisdiction, 公海:海洋的偏远部分,通常称为公海. 这些海底山链支撑着异常丰富的生物多样性, with the highest rate of marine species found nowhere else in the world (>40%). The highly productive waters above the 脊 contain important feeding grounds 和 migratory pathways for numerous ecologically important species including sea turtles, 海鸟, 和鲸鱼. 海底山脉本身居住着广泛的社区, 包括各种深海珊瑚和海绵, which provide the foundation for some of the most diverse ecosystems in the deep sea with thous和s of associated species. Corals 和 sponges also contribute significantly to carbon 和 nutrient recycling in the deep sea, 并且被科学家用来做重要的事情 生物医学的发现古气候档案. 不幸的是, 增长缓慢的速度, 低繁殖输出, 和 sensitivity to disturbance make these communities highly vulnerable.

Human activity could swiftly 和 significantly damage the Salas y Gómez seamount habitats, 到目前为止,它们仍然相对地保持着原始的状态. 不幸的是, achieving effective conservation on the 公海 is difficult due to the lack of a legal framework to create 公海 marine protected areas, lack of general awareness that unique 和 fragile ecosystems exist in these 远程 areas. 因此,只有 1.2%的公海 is protected, leaving the vast majority of 公海 susceptible to damage from 破坏性的捕鱼方法污染,石油和天然气开采,深海采矿,以及 气候变化.

The sheer size of the 公海 – spanning more than 61% of the ocean – is a significant obstacle to science 和 conservation. 由于偏远地区的勘测成本很高, 绝大多数公海仍然完全没有被探索过, presenting a major challenge to identify priority areas for conservation. 物种分布模型 are powerful tools to underst和 where fragile 和 unique ecosystems are likely to occur, 甚至在那些还没有被详细探索过的地方. The models link broad environmental data with known locations of species of interest to predict the likely distribution of these species. Since these models predict species distributions even in areas that have not yet been explored in detail, they are particularly useful to guide science 和 management efforts in 远程 places like the 公海. 海洋保护协会 has a long history of using species distribution models to aid conservation efforts in many locations around the globe, 包括 南太平洋, 英属哥伦比亚, 墨西哥湾.

地图的萨拉斯y Gómez和纳斯卡脊, 两条海底山链横跨近2,距离南美洲海岸000英里.

在最近出版的 PeerJ,建立了物种分布模型 石珊瑚 还有两组海绵(demosponges玻璃海绵)穿过萨拉斯Gómez和纳斯卡山脊. 这项研究是与 公海联盟的珊瑚礁, a global alliance of partners that aims to protect coral reefs throughout the 公海. 以前的工作 by the coalition has already shown that the Salas y Gómez 和 Nazca 脊 contain discrete patches where diverse, 罕见的, 和独特的组合 海洋生物 从而突出了保护本区域的重要性. The results of our new modelling study highlight that deep-water corals 和 sponges, 被认为是全球最优先保护的物种, 遍布整个地区. 重要的是, the models allowed us to predict where these communities occur even on seafloor features that have not yet been explored. 据预测,珊瑚和海绵生态系统将出现在海山上, 脊, 类似的陡峭地貌, which are known to produce favorable habitats for a wide variety of 海洋生物. 这些陡峭的地形加速了周围的水流, 增加营养,reby provide important habitat that allow corals 和 sponges to grow.

Deep-water corals 和 sponges on an unnamed seamount on Salas y Gómez ridge at a depth of 1,700 feet. 图片由JAMSTEC提供.

Building a strong scientific case for conservation is a necessary first step for long-term protection efforts. The results of this study underscore the need to protect the diverse 和 fragile seamount ecosystems of the Salas y Gómez 和 Nazca 脊, 特别是在没有保护措施的公海上. These models contribute to mounting scientific evidence that the Salas y Gómez 和 Nazca 脊 are one of the most unique diversity hotspots on Earth. We must act now to protect these unique 和 fragile resources before it is too late. 

Desmophyllum sp.——美国国家海洋和大气管理局

深海造礁珊瑚(Madrepora sp.), which is known to build highly biodiverse reefs on the Salas y Gómez 和 Nazca 脊. 图片由NOAA提供.