Portuguese marine habitats and species occurring below 30m are greatly understudied and unprotected, due to lack of information associated to...
Portuguese marine habitats and species occurring below 30m are greatly understudied and unprotected, due to lack of information associated to technological challenges. For example coral reefs were long seen as endemic to tropical areas and the discovery of extended Cold Water Coral reefs in temperate waters is so recent (<15 years) that their distribution is still mostly unknown. In this new project, the hard-bottom subtidal marine communities are being GIS-mapped, combining hydroacoustics, video surveys and biological sampling (SCUBA and ROV) with geo-referenced data on habitats and species (identified based on morphology and DNA-barcoding). We aim at providing Biodiversity Maps and integrating the information into several Ecological Indices of Conservation Value.
Population connectivity of selected Cnidarian species (30-70m depth) which is mostly unknown to science and to policy makers involved in marine conservation, will be estimated with molecular markers. Spatial patterns of genetic structure will be integrated with ecological, morphological and geographical data.
This is a cooperation project among scientists, divers, NGOs, private companies and governmental organizations, and has a strong outreach component to sensibilize people to their surrounding environment and the need for ocean conservation. Seminars, media and internet based tools are being used to approach the public.