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Good practices for species distribution modeling of deep-sea corals and sponges for resource management: Data collection, analysis, validation, and communication

May 12, 2020

Resource managers in the United States and worldwide are tasked with identifying and mitigating trade-offs between human activities in the deep sea (e.g., fishing, energy development, and mining) and their impacts on habitat-forming invertebrates, including deep-sea corals and sponges (DSCS). Related management decisions require information about where DSCS occur and in what densities. Species distribution modeling (SDM) provides a cost-effective means of identifying potential DSCS habitat over large areas to inform these management decisions and data collection. Here we describe good practices for DSCS SDM, especially in the context of data collection and management applications. Managers typically need information regarding DSCS encounter probabilities, densities, and sizes, defined at sub-regional to basin-wide scales and validated using subsequent, targeted data collections. To realistically achieve these goals, we suggest analysts: 1) integrate available data sources in SDMs including fine-scale visual sampling and broad-scale resource surveys (e.g., fisheries trawl surveys); and 2) include environmental predictor variables representing multiple spatial scales, model residual spatial autocorrelation, and quantify prediction uncertainty. When possible, models fitted to presence-absence and density data are preferred over models fitted only to presence data, which are difficult to validate and can confound estimated probability of occurrence or density with sampling effort. Ensembles of models can provide robust predictions, while multi-species models leverage information across taxa and facilitate community inference. To facilitate the use of models by managers, predictions should be expressed in units that are widely understood and validated at an appropriate spatial scale using a sampling design that provides strong statistical inference. We present three case studies for the Pacific Ocean that illustrate good practices with respect to data collection, modeling, and validation; these case studies demonstrate it is possible to implement our good practices in real-world settings.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Good practices for species distribution modeling of deep-sea corals and sponges for resource management: Data collection, analysis, validation, and communication
DOI 10.3389/fmars.2020.00303
Authors Arliss J Winship, James T. Thorson, M. Elizabeth Clarke, Heather M. Coleman, Bryan M. Costa, Samuel Georgian, David Gillett, Arnaud Grüss, Mark J. Henderson, Thomas F. Hourigan, David D. Huff, Nissa Kreidler, Jodi L. Pirtle, John V. Olson, Matthew Poti, Christopher N. Rooper, Michael F. Sigler, T. Shay Viehman, Curt E. Whitmire
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Frontiers in Marine Science
Index ID 70228550
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle