Species Distribution Modelling and Kernel Density Analysis of Benthic Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) and Other Benthic Fauna in the Maritimes Region
We present input data and output maps for random forest species distribution models and kernel density estimation (KDE)-derived significant areas for benthic Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) and other benthic taxa in Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Maritimes Region: Horse Mussel (Modiolus modiolus) Beds, Stalked Tunicate Fields, Sand Dollar Beds, Soft Coral Gardens, and Flabellum cup corals. Using a suite of sixty-six environmental variables derived from various sources and native spatial resolutions (available at DOI: 10.17632/34hhtjyyd3.1), random forest was employed to predict the probability of occurrence and biomass distribution of these taxa using data collected from DFO multispecies trawl surveys, DFO scallop stock assessment surveys, and targeted in situ benthic camera and/or video surveys. Random forest presence-absence models had excellent predictive capacity, with cross-validated Area Under the Receiver Operating Characteristic Curve (AUC) values ranging from 0.868 to 0.965. Significant concentrations (as defined by KDE) of these taxa are considered conservation priorities in the Scotian Shelf Bioregional Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network Design Strategy, and are currently being used in exploratory conservation planning analyses. Data include KDE polygons and associated position of trawl sets used to delineate the polygons, presence/absence and biomass data used for the random forest analyses, and the random forest model outputs and areas of extrapolation in GIS format. Please refer to the following citation for additional details on the data: Beazley, L., Kenchington, E., and Lirette, C. 2017. Species Distribution Modelling and Kernel Density Analysis of Benthic Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) and Other Benthic Fauna in the Maritimes Region. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 3204: vi + 159p.