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Estimating regional patterns of benthic invertebrates along the Namibian coast to comply with the post-2020 global biodiversity framework

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Assessing benthic biodiversity patterns is crucial to ensure the conservation of marine biodiversity and essential ecosystem services, especially in the context of climate change. Importantly, benthic biodiversity estimates are still lacking along the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME), which encompasses the broad coastlines of Angola, Namibia, and South Africa. Moreover, anthropogenic pressures have led to biodiversity threats and declines in benthic invertebrate populations, potentially shifting biodiversity baselines. To address this knowledge gaps, we provide the first biodiversity estimate of marine invertebrates in the Namibian coastline by means of deep neural network modelling fitting high-resolution predictor variables and field surveys data collected over a period of four years. Our models matched the known distribution of benthic invertebrate species with high estimates throughout the entire study extent and hotspots located in the Central regions of the Marine Spatial planning (MSP) area. Our findings also show that achieving the post-2020 biodiversity targets of protecting 30% of the Namibian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) leads to 12 out of 143 taxa being preserved, particularly the mantis shrimp Squilla acuelata calmani; the crabs Mursia cristiata, Mixed Hermit crabs, Macropipus australis, Bathynectes piperitus, Chaceon maritae and Lithodes ferox; the lobsters Stereomastis sp. and Jasus lalandii; the gastropods Amalda bullioides and Gastropods mixed; and the Sea anemone pink. This new assessment can guide and enhance decision-making in the management and conservation of different areas like Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas.



Bclme Invertebrates Biodiversity Conservation Marine protected areas Marine spatial planning Namibia


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