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Research Technical Report

Observations and Comparisons of California Seamount Communities

Lundsten, L., L. Kuhnz, J. Barry, and D. Clague (November 2005)

Poster presentation at the 3rd International Symposium on Deep-Sea Corals, Miami, FL


Seamount communities have been observed using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and were recorded using high-resolution video equipment. In order to determine seamount community compositions, 120 hours of video representing 12 dives on Davidson, Guide, Pioneer, and Rodriguez seamounts off the coast of California, USA, were annotated in detail using the Video Annotation and Reference System (VARS). Nearly 100,000 individual observations were annotated and added to the VARS database while reviewing these dives. The majority of the observations are biological with over 100 total species collected and identified by taxonomists, including more than 20 coral species.

Queries of the VARS database for all observed taxonomic groups were spatially analyzed using ArcGIS in an effort to describe the community structure and compare patterns of abundance and diversity between the different locales. Due to the nature of the collection methods, the data must be interpreted as semi-qualitative; nevertheless results are valuable in that they reveal patterns not normally discerned with traditional sampling methods in this harsh environment. These observations will also be useful to policy makers and sanctuary managers in determining if protection and subsequent incorporation into marine protected areas is warranted based on rarity of habitat and or species found.