Habitat and Biodiversity Mapping
The knowledge of temporal and spatial distribution of species and habitats is crucial for fisheries management, marine spatial planning and the implementation of several European policies (e.g.: Habitats Directive, EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy, Water Framework, Marine Strategy Framework and Maritime Spatial Planning directives). These management and conservation tools can only be effective when supported by reliable modeling and conservation planning, which we develop by combining mapping and sea bed classification with acoustic telemetry, fisheries, ecological, genetics, oceanographic and environmental data, along with local ecological knowledge.
Our research activities therefore include mapping, monitoring, modelling and understanding movement ecology. The huge amount of data with spatial information about habitats and species that we collect is used to feed national and international databases and geoportals, such as SNIMAR, OBIS, ALGABASE, FISHBASE, WORMS and EMODNET.
We pay special concern into the detection, modelling and mapping of essential fish habitats and priority habitats (e.g.: those included in the NATURA 2000 Network, OSPAR and Barcelona conventions, UN Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems and EBSAs - Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas). These include coastal lagoons and estuaries, seagrass meadows, kelp forests, maerl beds, coral gardens, sponge aggregations, seamounts and submarine canyons. We also pay particular attention to species that are vulnerable or have a protection status such as seagrasses, red coral, sea cucumbers, rays and sharks, seahorses, marine turtles and dolphins.