The rocky reefs off the coast of Southern California are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world (in the map above, currently known reefs are outlined in green). They support a great diversity of marine species, including rockfish, invertebrates like abalone and snails, and kelp forests. However, the reefs have been heavily impacted by overfishing, development, pollution, and other anthropogenic activity.
Researchers developed this map in order to identify potential sites for artificial reefs, man-made structures that can be used to restore and enhance rocky reef habitat. They modeled the distributions of 21 marine species that have commercial, recreational, ecological, or conservation importance in Southern California’s existing reefs, then stacked the individual models together to identify conditions that would be suitable for a diversity of species. These areas (shown in bright yellow) are where man-made reefs could be built.
About this map: The stacked species distribution model has a spatial resolution of 200 meters and includes areas shallower than or equal to 45 meters deep.
Data source: Stacked species distribution model derived from Zellmer et al. 2019 in Frontiers in Marine Science, 6. [link]
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Amanda J. Zellmer for generously sharing this coastal marine biodiversity data.