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Question 1.5

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deep-sea ecosystems [#429]
I attach some papers from a recent Oceanography volume that was dedicated to deep-sea ecosystems resulting from the EU funded HERMES project.  Here open slopes represent the largest ecosystems on earth.  Nevertheless, there are significant changes in biodiversity with depth, with latitude and between regions.  Canyons represent very complex systems with major variations in species with depth and between the many small habitats available within the canyon such as the canyon floor, rocky walls, muddy terraces etc.  Cold seeps (small areas of seafloor where fluids containing methane escape) also represent unique ecosystems with the abundance and diversity of species being dependent on the availability of methane.  Lastly cold-water corals form unique ecosystems with high biodiversity that are under threat due to bottom trawling, ocean warming and ocean acidification.  In all cases our knowledge is limited both in terms of ecosystem function and also even in terms of what exists where.
posted on 2009-09-02 14:48 UTC by Prof Philip Weaver, National Oceanography Centre