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Deep Sea Research Part I Oceanographic Research Papers
Article . 2023 . Peer-reviewed
License: CC BY NC ND
Data sources: Crossref
DIGITAL.CSIC
Article . 2023 . Peer-reviewed
Data sources: DIGITAL.CSIC
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Spatial distributions, environmental drivers and co-existence patterns of key cold-water corals in the deep sea of the Azores (NE Atlantic)

Authors: Gerald Hechter Taranto; José-Manuel González-Irusta; Carlos Dominguez-Carrió; Christopher K. Pham; Fernando Tempera; Manuela Ramos; Guilherme Gonçalves; +2 Authors

Spatial distributions, environmental drivers and co-existence patterns of key cold-water corals in the deep sea of the Azores (NE Atlantic)

Abstract

This work contributes to the PO2020 MapGES (Acores-01-0145-FEDER-000056) research project and to the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 678760 (ATLAS), No 818123 (iAtlantic) and No 824077 (EUROFLEETS+). This output reflects only the authors' views and the European Union cannot be held responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein. We acknowledge all projects and programs that collected occurrence data of cold-water coral species in the Azores region. Records in the COLETA database were originally collected by fisheries observer programs during the CORAZON project (FCT No PTDC/MAR/72169/2006), HERMIONE project (FP7 No 226354) and CoralFISH (FP7 GA 213144) harbour sampling programs; CoralFISH, DiscardLess (H2020 No 633680), MERCES (H2020 No 689518) and SPONGES (H2020 No 679849). Records were also provided by the fisheries survey programs ARQDAÇO (1995–2019), OASIS (FP7 No EVK3-CT-2002-00073), CoralFISH, CONDOR (EEA grants No PT0040/2008), PESCPROF (Interreg IIIB/MAC/4.2/M12), DEECON (FCT EURODEEP/0002/2007) and BIOMETORE (EEA grants No PT02), and by the FISHOR experimental bottom trawl surveys. Finally, occurrence records were also made available by multiple ROV, submersible and towed video surveys such as those conducted within the MapGES, BIOMETORE, Estrutura de Missão para Extensão da Plataforma Continental (EMEPC; Cruzeiro Científico EMEPC/LUSO/Açores/2009), MEDWAVES (ATLAS No 678760, with logistic and technical assistance from the UTM –CSIC– and the financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitivity), Blue Azores 2018 (National Geographic Pristine Seas program, Oceano Azul Foundation, and Waitt Institute), NICO 12 Expedition and Pelagia Rainbow 2019 (64PE441, 64PE454, and 64PE456; Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO for funding and Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research NIOZ for organising the Netherlands Initiative Changing Oceans NICO expedition in 2018), TREASURE (RV Pelagia cruises 64PE388, 64PE398, 64PE412, NWO-TTW grant 13273 and Topsector Water), and iMAR 2021 (RV Pelagia ship-time was provided free of charge as part of the iMAR project which received funding from the European Union's H2020 Research & Innovation Programme under grant agreement No 824077 EUROFLEETS+). We deeply thank all fisheries observers, PIs, crews and scientists that participated in all these sampling programs. GHT was supported by the DRCT (M3.1. a/F/052/2015). TM was supported by Program Investigador FCT (IF/01194/2013), and the IFCT Exploratory Project (IF/01194/2013/CP1199/CT0002) from the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (POPH and QREN). TM and MCS were also supported by the FCT-IP Program Stimulus of Scientific Employment (CCCIND/03345/2020 and CCCIND/03346/2020, respectively) and the H2020 programme No 689518 (MERCES) and No 818123 (iAtlantic). CD-C was supported by the PO2020 projects MapGES and DeepWalls (Acores-01-0145-FEDER-000056 and Acores-01-0145-FEDER-000124) and by the FCT-IP Project UIDP/05634/2020. CKP received support from the Operational Program Azores 2020, through the Fund 01-0145-FEDER-000140 ″MarAZ Researchers: Consolidate a body of researchers in Marine Sciences in the Azores” of the European Union. We also acknowledge funds through the FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P., under the project OKEANOS UIDB/05634/2020 and UIDP/05634/2020 and through the FCT Regional Government of the Azores under the project M1.1. A/REEQ.CIENTÍFICO UI&D/2021/010.

Habitat-forming cold-water corals (CWCs) represent a key component of deep-sea benthic communities and a priority target for conservation. Although research efforts have been mounting to try and identify the drivers of CWC distributions, progress has been limited by the scarcity of ecological data. The present work employs habitat suitability models (HSMs) to estimate spatial distributions, environmental drivers and co-existence patterns of 14 habitat-forming CWCs in the Azores, an area considered a hotspot of coral diversity in the Atlantic. The modelled CWCs showed a strong bathymetric zonation, which seems to be determined by the vertical stratification of water masses in the region. In particular, the modelled CWCs can be clustered in four groups named after the isopycnal (vertical) layers in which Atlantic water masses are organized: species restricted to upper water masses, species extending down from upper water masses, species restricted to intermediate water masses and species extending up from deep water masses. Horizontal patterns further indicate that the Azores Current and different production regimes north and south of the archipelago likely influence the distribution of CWCs in sub-surface waters. Such results have important implications for the regional management of deep-sea benthic communities and, in particular, for the design of representative networks of protected areas. The combined habitat of all modelled species covered only 11%. Given that they all possess the characteristics of benthic foundation organisms and represent indicator taxa of vulnerable marine ecosystems all the modelled species should be viewed as important targets for conservation. The lace coral Errina dabneyi deserves particular attention since this species appears to be endemic to the Azores and has a very limited estimated distribution.

Peer reviewed

Countries
France, Spain, France
Keywords

Vulnerable marine ecosystems, Foundation species, [SDV]Life Sciences [q-bio], Cold-water corals, Aquatic Science, Oceanography, Azores, Deep sea, Water masses

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citations
This is an alternative to the "Influence" indicator, which also reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Citations provided by BIP!
popularity
This indicator reflects the "current" impact/attention (the "hype") of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Popularity provided by BIP!
influence
This indicator reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Influence provided by BIP!
impulse
This indicator reflects the initial momentum of an article directly after its publication, based on the underlying citation network.
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Funded byView all
EC| MERCES
Project
MERCES
Marine Ecosystem Restoration in Changing European Seas
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 689518
  • Funding stream: H2020 | RIA
,
EC| DiscardLess
Project
DiscardLess
DiscardLess – Strategies for the gradual elimination of discards in European fisheries
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 633680
  • Funding stream: H2020 | RIA
sysimport:crosswalk:repository
,
NWO| Towards Responsible ExtrAction of SUbmarine mineral REsources (TREASURE)
Project
  • Funder: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) (NWO)
  • Project Code: 13273
  • Funding stream: Samenwerkingsprogramma MARITIEM 2013 STW
iis
,
EC| HERMIONE
Project
HERMIONE
Hotspot Ecosystem Research and Man's Impact on European seas
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 226354
  • Funding stream: FP7 | SP1 | ENV
sysimport:crosswalk:repository
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Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Greece
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