Objectives. The aim of Work Package 1 is to fill the knowledge gap about the extent and distribution of sponge grounds by collating known distributional data, and by collecting new scale geological, hydrological, and biological data through in-situ surveys of different types of sponge ground ecosystems in case study areas. To achieve this, the following objectives will be addressed:
- Develop a Geographical Information System for deep-sea sponges – SponGIS;
- Characterize the geological setting;
- Characterize the oceanographic setting;
- Map past and present distribution of deep-sea sponge grounds; and
- Develop ecosystem maps at different spatial scales.
Focus. The Work Package aims to understand the environmental and geological drivers infuencing sponge grounds by acquiring new knowledge to determine the factors for sponge ground distribution for the past and present. The Work Package will combine existing data on sponge ground occurrences, and collect new geological, biological, and hydrological data. All data of sponge ground systems in the North Atlantic will be implemented in a new Geographical Information System for deep-sea sponges: SponGIS.
Why is this important? Very little is known about the past and present distribution of sponge grounds in the North Atlantic. To better predict where sponge grounds occur, more knowledge is needed of the underlying environmental as well as geological drivers of these ecosystems. The analysis and detailed mapping within SponGIS will lead to the production of maps of past and present distributions thereby p roviding decision makers with the scientific knowledge necessary to improve biodiversity conservation and to achieve e ciency and sustainability in the use of sponge grounds. Knowledge on the environmental and geological settings around sponge grounds will be used for distribution maps of the wider North Atlantic using predictive models, which will support policy makers to manage these vulnerable ecosystems.
Discover more about SponGES WP1 – download the WP1 Infosheet here.