Analysis of the population structure of a gorgonian forest (Placogorgia sp.) using a photogrammetric 3D modeling approach at Le Danois Bank, Cantabrian Sea

Abstract: The presence of gorgonian forests and deep-sea sponge aggregations in the Le Danois Bank promoted its declaration as the "El Cachucho" Marine Protected Area (MPA) by the Spanish Ministry of Environment, and its inclusion in the Natura 2000 network. Both habitats are considered vulnerable, so follow-up surveys are being performed to monitor their conservation in compliance with the EU Habitats Directive. The use of a non-invasive methodology, which does not cause damage or alterations on benthic communities, is particularly necessary in vulnerable ecosystem studies and MPA monitoring. This study analyzed the assemblage structure of a Placogorgia sp. population using a 3D photogrammetry-based method. The study was carried out through the analysis of the video transects obtained at the Le Danois Bank, using the Politolana underwater towed vehicle during the July 2017 ECOMARG survey. Recent developments in specific software of photogrammetric image analysis allowed extracting valuable information from these video transects. Using the Pix4D Mapper Pro software, 3D point clouds were obtained, and the size and morphometry of yellow fan-shaped gorgonian population structure could be evaluated. Due to gorgonian's high structural complexity, the use of length (i.e. height) as the morphometric descriptor of the real size of the colonies is not appropriate. Instead of length, the fan surface area covered by each gorgonian colony was selected as a suitable parameter of size. The direct measurement of this parameter was possible through a complete 3D reconstruction of the gorgonian forest. A total of 426 colonies of Placogorgia sp. were digitalized to obtain surface measurements and fan spread orientation calculations in 3D models. The results show that gorgonian populations were mostly composed of a high proportion of small colonies (0-0.10 m2). The population structure distribution shows a high proportion (~27%) of recruits (<0.05 m2) and also many (19%) large colonies (>0.5 m2). In 78% of the gorgonian colonies, facing angles were grouped inside the first quadrant (0°-90°), in accordance with the main current direction in this zone. Colony distribution and fan orientation inside the gorgonian forest can be used as data sources to improve monitoring and management programs of these unique habitats in MPAs.

 Autoría: Prado E., Sánchez F., Rodríguez-Basalo A., Altuna Á., Cobo A.,

 Fuente: Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 2019, 153, 103124

Editorial: Elsevier

 Fecha de publicación: 01/11/2019

Nº de páginas: 33

Tipo de publicación: Artículo de Revista

DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr.2019.103124

ISSN: 0967-0637

Url de la publicación: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2019.103124