Well, Amsterdam is certainly a unique city and was the recent host of the International Deep-sea Coral Symposium 2012. This was the 5th conference and the 3rd that I’ve been to since I started working on cold-water corals. Whilst not as distant as Florida (3rd ISDSC) or New Zealand (4th ISDSC), there was an enthusiasm to the conference which was organised by our friends Furu Mienis and Tjeerd van Weering. We were located slap-bang in central Amsterdam at the Artis Zoo conference centre, which has a magnificent butterfly house, on par with Anglesey’s Pilli Pallas but without the meerkats!
Myself and our newest PhD student Craig went along, luckily I had been asked to present a keynote on our recent predictive modelling work which saved me from having to think of something to present! We stayed at a hotel on Prinze Hendricks, which I do not recommend but will not name… Those of you who heard me complain about it will understand, over priced and horrid… But, was a place to bed down after a long day of networking and conferencing.
All in all, an absolutely fantastic conference, in great surroundings with great friends. For those of you who are interested, you can download a PDF copy of my presentation
Davies, A.J. (2012) “Locating vulnerable marine ecosystems in the greatest wilderness on earth” Keynote presentation at the 5th International Symposium for Deep-sea Corals, Amsterdam, 1st-6th April.
Predictive habitat models are increasingly being used by conservationists, researchers and governmental bodies to identify vulnerable ecosystems (VMEs) and species’ distributions in areas that have not been sampled. Despite improvements in model algorithms, environmental data and species presences, there are still significant limitations in the reliability of this technique, especially in the deep sea. Recent studies have begun to address a key limitation, the quality of data, by using multibeam echosounder surveys and species data from video surveys to acquire high resolution data. Whilst these data are often amongst the very best that can be acquired in the deep ocean, the surveys are highly localised, often targeted towards known VME-containing areas, are very expensive and time consuming. Whilst these local surveys are useful for site-specific management, they are less useful for identifying areas not yet sampled or for influencing regional or basin-scale management. It is impossible to survey whole regions (although Ireland has mapped their entire EEZ) or ocean basins using these techniques, so alternative approaches are required. Predictive modelling in data poor areas is difficult, limited heavily by the quality of data. There is no doubt that the adoption of predictive modelling is increasing amongst researchers who work in areas that are poorly studied. But, there are still significant improvements that need to be made to increase the reliability and thus adoption of this technique.