Bridging the Australian-New Zealand divide – modelling species and community distributions across the world’s two largest EEZs
Tanya J. Compton (NIWA) and Piers K. Dunstan (CSIRO)
Australia and New Zealand share two of the world’s largest Exclusive Economic Zones. The extensive size of these EEZs, in combination with sparse biological and environmental data, has translated into a major challenge for implementing marine spatial management in both countries. In recent years a number of initiatives have tried to bridge the data-gap. Specifically, benthic habitat mapping projects have been collecting data, especially in hard to reach places. The recent availability of oceanographic, satellite and sediment data, as geographic layers, has provided a means of describing broad-scale environmental variation. Consequently, a number of initiatives are underway to synthesize species and community distributions at different spatial scales using distributional modelling approaches. Distributional modelling approaches aim to describe the distribution of species or communities with respect to either physical or other variables. These modelling approaches are playing an increasingly important role in the management of marine systems and are providing new insights into the ecology of some of the most inaccessible places in the ocean. We propose that this session focus on the spatial management approaches currently being used in both Australia and New Zealand.