HABITAT HETEROGENEITY AND BIODIVERSITY IN WHITTARD CANYON, CELTIC MARGIN, NE ATLANTIC
Owing to their high terrain variability and unique oceanography, which can result in locally increased nutrient concentrations, submarine canyons are often considered hotspots of biodiversity. To evaluate this general statement, an extensive and multidisciplinary expedition was undertaken in the Whittard Canyon, Celtic Margin, NE Atlantic. The survey combined shipboard multibeam and towed sidescan sonar data (30kHz TOBI), coring operations, and ROV-based video, multibeam and sampling work. Within the framework of the ERC Starting Grant project CODEMAP (COmplex Deep-sea Environments: Mapping habitat heterogeneity As Proxy for biodiversity), this dataset is used to create habitat maps both at a regional (100km) and local (1km extent) scale, which allows quantification of the habitat heterogeneity. Community analysis of the epibenthic megafauna, as identified from the ROV video data, further results in a quantification of biodiversity at both scales, revealing patterns and differences within and between canyon branches. The first results confirm that Whittard Canyon is an area with very high species turnover (beta-diversity), partly caused by the frequent occurrence of steep and overhanging substrates (cliffs, gullies), especially in the middle canyon.
Huvenne, V. A., National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, United Kingdom, email@example.com
Robert, K., National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, United Kingdom
Ismail, K., National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, United Kingdom
Jones, D. O., National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, United Kingdom
Tyler, P. A., University of Southampton, United Kingdom
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