Abstract: Newfoundland and Labrador waters have been since the 15th century and until recently one of the largest fishing grounds in the world, but like most places on the planet, our understanding of deep waters environments in this region is still very sporadic. While fishers have been recovering deep-sea corals in their gears for decades, it is only recently that more systematic scientific studies have improved our knowledge of these organisms. This talk will give an overview of the last decade of work done by our research group to improve our understanding of the species present in this region, their biogeography, growth rates, habitat characteristics, sensitivity to fishing activities and the role they play in the larger marine ecosystem. Some of the recent conservation efforts and related challenges will be discussed within the context of the requirement Canada has to protect these vulnerable marine ecosystems.
Biography: Rodolphe Devillers is Associate Professor in Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, currently on sabbatical leave at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Corals Reefs Studies at James Cook University to work on systematic conservation planning with the group of Bob Pressey. At Memorial University, Rodolphe leads the marine geomatics research lab, a team exploring a number of research questions related to the use of GIS and spatial analysis for improving our understanding of the marine environment. Some of his more applied research looks at seabed mapping, benthic habitat mapping, studies of deep-sea corals in Canada and the analysis of spatial and temporal changes in fisheries in relation to environmental changes. Other more theoretical research includes the use of spatial statistical methods for marine environmental modelling, the development of 3D marine data structures and the improvement of geovisualization tools for supporting maritime decision-making.