Spatial modelling of Acropora muricata and Porites lutea distribution using environmental descriptors across Lakshadweep–Chagos Archipelago

Anakha, M and Sreenath, K R and Joshi, K K and Padua, Shelton and Nameer, P O (2021) Spatial modelling of Acropora muricata and Porites lutea distribution using environmental descriptors across Lakshadweep–Chagos Archipelago. Regional Studies in Marine Science, 41. pp. 1-8. ISSN 23524855

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Globally, climatic and anthropogenic forcings are causing the catastrophic decline of coral reef ecosystems, which sustain a plethora of marine life and support the livelihoods of several millions of people. Lakshadweep–Maldives–Chagosarchipelago (LMC) forms one of the largest chains of atoll systems in the world, and due to remoteness from the mainland, its islands boast a unique set of flora and fauna. The coral reefs of these tropical islands are highly vulnerable to stressors such as climate change, overfishing, monsoon runoff, and ocean acidification. To understand and manage these sensitive ecosystems, knowledge about the existing coral cover and distribution patterns are essential. In the present study, habitat modelling of the two corals Acropora muricata (Linnaeus, 1758) and Porites lutea (Milne Edwards & Haime, 1851) were carried out using the Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) model to predict the probability of occurrence using remotely sensed environmental variables as predictors. The average test AUC values of 0.980 and 0.974, respectively, for A. muricata and P. lutea as estimated by MaxEnt shows that the model performance for both the species is outstanding. The average uncertainty (standard deviation) was about 0.012 and 0.021 respectively. It is found that the bathymetry is the variable having the highest contribution followed by Calcite and Phosphate for the distribution of both the species. The results of this study throw light on the probable occurrence of coral reefs in many of the hitherto unknown areas, especially the submerged banks and seamounts in the region. Much of these areas are less explored and have strategic positional advantages in increasing the ecosystem connectivity of the region. Furthermore, the relationship between coral distribution and the environmental variables as predicted by this study will be valuable in future conservation activities and designing marine protected areas.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Maximum Entropy; MaxEnt; Species distribution model
Subjects: Marine Ecosystems > Coral Reefs
Divisions: CMFRI-Kochi > Marine Biodiversity Division
Subject Area > CMFRI > CMFRI-Kochi > Marine Biodiversity Division
CMFRI-Kochi > Marine Biodiversity Division
Subject Area > CMFRI-Kochi > Marine Biodiversity Division
Depositing User: Arun Surendran
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2021 04:47
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2022 05:50

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