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Jaime S. Davies, Plymouth University, UK
Paul Somerfield, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK
Kerry Howell, Plymouth University, UK
A critical evaluation of methods to compare the diversity of 2 submarine canyons

Submarine canyons are listed as potential biodiversity hotspots, however, to date there is very little data on canyon community composition of these features, or measures of diversity to assess their potential importance as features of conservation interest. For effective management of submarine canyons, we need a method by which they can be classified in terms of what is important for conservation. Diversity is a well used and accepted method for quantification and compatibility between habitats and features. Diversity indices such as Margalef (1958), Shannon-Wiener (1963) and Simpson (1949) index are commonly used in ecology and can measure richness, dominance and evenness.

These, as well as other (Simpson’s reciprocal Index, rarefaction curves etc.) can be used to measure the alpha diversity of biotopes, but to date there is no standardised approach for comparing diversity of habitats/features. When comparing diversity, caution needs to be taken regarding which index is used, simply averaging species richness across samples can be misleading as no standardisation for sampling effort is made. Here we use data of 2 adjacent submarine canyons to critically evaluate the methods used to treat quantitative data for comparing biodiversity. Ultimately, a better understanding of the methods used to treat and compare the data for conservation allows more accurate predictive modelling in canyons.

Theme 3: Biological patterns in submarine canyons: role of scale and heterogeneity
Oral Presentation
Megabenthic assemblages, biodiversity, methods