Palyhtoa caribaeorum is an anthozoan frequently found in shallow rocky marine environments of the Western Atlantic Ocean, from the Tropical to Subtropical zones of the Americas. This species presents a high physiological tolerance, fast growth rates, and relatively few predators, making it an efficient competitor in the reef systems. To assess the current and future distribution of this species is essential to designate areas prone to community changes due to the presence or absence of P. caribaeorum. Using the Maxent maximum entropy model, fed by oceanographic and bathymetric data, this project aims at characterizing the Western Atlantic Coast in terms of habitat suitability for P. caribaeorum, detecting environmental variables that better explain its occurrence and providing prospects about its distribution considering global climate changes projected for 2050 and 2100. New maps will be generated for current and future scenarios, pointing at regions of probable local colonization or extinction, leading to changes in the reef communities of the Atlantic.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: