Deep-sea ecosystems and hydrothermal vents

Metabolic Niches and Biodiversity: A Test Case in the Deep Sea Benthos

McClain CR, Webb TJ, Nunnally CC, S. Dixon R, Finnegan S, Nelson JA. Metabolic Niches and Biodiversity: A Test Case in the Deep Sea Benthos. Frontiers in Marine Science [Internet]. 2020 ;7. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2020.00216/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1320398_45_Marine_20200505_arts_A
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

The great anthropogenic alterations occurring to carbon availability in the oceans necessitate an understanding of the energy requirements of species and how changes in energy availability may impact biodiversity. The deep-sea floor is characterized naturally by extremely low availability of chemical energy and is particularly vulnerable to changes in carbon flux from surface waters. Because the energetic requirements of organisms impact nearly every aspect of their ecology and evolution, we hypothesize that species are adapted to specific levels of carbon availability and occupy a particular metabolic niche. We test this hypothesis in deep-sea, benthic invertebrates specifically examining how energetic demand, axes of the metabolic niche, and geographic range size vary over gradients of chemical energy availability. We find that benthic invertebrates with higher energetic expenditures, and ecologies associated with high energy demand, are located in areas with higher chemical energy availability. In addition, we find that range size and location of deep-sea, benthic species is determined by geographic patterns in chemical energy availability. Our findings indicate that species may be adapted to specific energy regimes, and the metabolic niche can potentially link scales from individuals to ecosystems as well as adaptation to patterns in biogeography and biodiversity.

What Feeds the Benthos in the Arctic Basins? Assembling a Carbon Budget for the Deep Arctic Ocean

Wiedmann I, Ershova E, Bluhm BAnnikki, Nöthig E-M, Gradinger RR, Kosobokova K, Boetius A. What Feeds the Benthos in the Arctic Basins? Assembling a Carbon Budget for the Deep Arctic Ocean. Frontiers in Marine Science [Internet]. 2020 ;7. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2020.00224/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1320398_45_Marine_20200505_arts_A
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Half of the Arctic Ocean is deep sea (>1000 m), and this area is currently transitioning from being permanently ice-covered to being seasonally ice-free. Despite these drastic changes, it remains unclear how organisms are distributed in the deep Arctic basins, and particularly what feeds them. Here, we summarize data on auto- and heterotrophic organisms in the benthic, pelagic, and sympagic realm of the Arctic Ocean basins from the past three decades and put together an organic carbon budget for this region. Based on the budget, we investigate whether our current understanding of primary and secondary production and vertical carbon flux are balanced by the current estimates of the carbon demand by deep-sea benthos. At first glance, our budget identifies a mismatch between the carbon supply by primary production (3–46 g C m−2 yr−1), the carbon demand of organisms living in the pelagic (7–17 g C m−2) and the benthic realm (< 5 g C m−2 yr−1) versus the low vertical carbon export (at 200 m: 0.1–1.5 g C m−2 yr−1, at 3000–4000 m: 0.01–0.73 g C m−2 yr−1). To close the budget, we suggest that episodic events of large, fast sinking ice algae aggregates, export of dead zooplankton, as well as large food falls need to be quantified and included. This work emphasizes the clear need for a better understanding of the quantity, phenology, and the regionality of carbon supply and demand in the deep Arctic basins, which will allow us to evaluate how the ecosystem may change in the future.

Influence of Water Masses on the Biodiversity and Biogeography of Deep-Sea Benthic Ecosystems in the North Atlantic

Puerta P, Johnson C, Carreiro-Silva M, Henry L-A, Kenchington E, Morato T, Kazanidis G, Rueda JLuis, Urra J, Ross S, et al. Influence of Water Masses on the Biodiversity and Biogeography of Deep-Sea Benthic Ecosystems in the North Atlantic. Frontiers in Marine Science [Internet]. 2020 ;7. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2020.00239/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1320398_45_Marine_20200505_arts_A
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Circulation patterns in the North Atlantic Ocean have changed and re-organized multiple times over millions of years, influencing the biodiversity, distribution, and connectivity patterns of deep-sea species and ecosystems. In this study, we review the effects of the water mass properties (temperature, salinity, food supply, carbonate chemistry, and oxygen) on deep-sea benthic megafauna (from species to community level) and discussed in future scenarios of climate change. We focus on the key oceanic controls on deep-sea megafauna biodiversity and biogeography patterns. We place particular attention on cold-water corals and sponges, as these are ecosystem-engineering organisms that constitute vulnerable marine ecosystems (VME) with high associated biodiversity. Besides documenting the current state of the knowledge on this topic, a future scenario for water mass properties in the deep North Atlantic basin was predicted. The pace and severity of climate change in the deep-sea will vary across regions. However, predicted water mass properties showed that all regions in the North Atlantic will be exposed to multiple stressors by 2100, experiencing at least one critical change in water temperature (+2°C), organic carbon fluxes (reduced up to 50%), ocean acidification (pH reduced up to 0.3), aragonite saturation horizon (shoaling above 1000 m) and/or reduction in dissolved oxygen (>5%). The northernmost regions of the North Atlantic will suffer the greatest impacts. Warmer and more acidic oceans will drastically reduce the suitable habitat for ecosystem-engineers, with severe consequences such as declines in population densities, even compromising their long-term survival, loss of biodiversity and reduced biogeographic distribution that might compromise connectivity at large scales. These effects can be aggravated by reductions in carbon fluxes, particularly in areas where food availability is already limited. Declines in benthic biomass and biodiversity will diminish ecosystem services such as habitat provision, nutrient cycling, etc. This study shows that the deep-sea VME affected by contemporary anthropogenic impacts and with the ongoing climate change impacts are unlikely to withstand additional pressures from more intrusive human activities. This study serves also as a warning to protect these ecosystems through regulations and by tempering the ongoing socio-political drivers for increasing exploitation of marine resources.

Public Perceptions of Deep-Sea Environment: Evidence From Scotland and Norway

Ankamah-Yeboah I, Xuan BBich, Hynes S, Armstrong CW. Public Perceptions of Deep-Sea Environment: Evidence From Scotland and Norway. Frontiers in Marine Science [Internet]. 2020 ;7. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2020.00137/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1286267_45_Marine_20200331_arts_A
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Knowledge of people's understanding of environmental problems is vital for the effective implementation of the ecosystem approach to marine management. This is especially relevant when conservation goals are aimed at ecosystems in the deep-sea that are remote to the consciousness of most people. This study explores public perceptions of the deep-sea environment among the Scottish and Norwegian public. It further analyses the relationships between respondents' pro-environmental concerns toward the marine environment and personal characteristics using a multiple indicators multiple causes model. The results show that public knowledge of the deep-sea environment is low for Scottish and moderate for Norwegians. Awareness of cold-water corals was high for the Lofoten case study area amongst the Norwegian public and low for the Mingulay reef complex in the Scottish case. These differences might arise because Norway is known to host the world's largest cold-water corals in the Lofoten area; a fact that has been well-publicized. We find that most people think changes in the deep-sea have at least some effect on them. On average, the public perceive the deep-sea condition to be at most “fairly good” but are dissatisfied with the management of it with approximately only one third or less thinking it is well-managed. Generally, the public perception from both countries show ecocentric attitudes toward the marine environment implying that they recognize the value of ecosystem services, the current ecological crisis and the need for sustainable management.

Public Perceptions of Deep-Sea Environment: Evidence From Scotland and Norway

Ankamah-Yeboah I, Xuan BBich, Hynes S, Armstrong CW. Public Perceptions of Deep-Sea Environment: Evidence From Scotland and Norway. Frontiers in Marine Science [Internet]. 2020 ;7. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2020.00137/full
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Knowledge of people's understanding of environmental problems is vital for the effective implementation of the ecosystem approach to marine management. This is especially relevant when conservation goals are aimed at ecosystems in the deep-sea that are remote to the consciousness of most people. This study explores public perceptions of the deep-sea environment among the Scottish and Norwegian public. It further analyses the relationships between respondents' pro-environmental concerns toward the marine environment and personal characteristics using a multiple indicators multiple causes model. The results show that public knowledge of the deep-sea environment is low for Scottish and moderate for Norwegians. Awareness of cold-water corals was high for the Lofoten case study area amongst the Norwegian public and low for the Mingulay reef complex in the Scottish case. These differences might arise because Norway is known to host the world's largest cold-water corals in the Lofoten area; a fact that has been well-publicized. We find that most people think changes in the deep-sea have at least some effect on them. On average, the public perceive the deep-sea condition to be at most “fairly good” but are dissatisfied with the management of it with approximately only one third or less thinking it is well-managed. Generally, the public perception from both countries show ecocentric attitudes toward the marine environment implying that they recognize the value of ecosystem services, the current ecological crisis and the need for sustainable management.

UK deep‐sea conservation: Progress, lessons learned, and actions for the future

Chaniotis PD, Robson LM, Lemasson AJ, Cornthwaite AL, Howell KL. UK deep‐sea conservation: Progress, lessons learned, and actions for the future. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems [Internet]. 2019 . Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/aqc.3243
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article
  1. Despite a relatively long history of scientific interest fuelled by exploratory research cruises, the UK deep sea has only recently emerged as the subject of targeted and proactive conservation. Enabling legislation over the past 10 years has resulted in the designation of marine protected areas and the implementation of fisheries management areas as spatial conservation tools. This paper reflects on progress and lessons learned, recommending actions for the future.
  2. Increased investment has been made to improve the evidence base for deep‐sea conservation, including collaborative research surveys and use of emerging technologies. New open data portals and developments in marine habitat classification systems have been two notable steps to furthering understanding of deep‐sea biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in support of conservation action.
  3. There are still extensive gaps in fundamental knowledge of deep‐sea ecosystems and of cause and effect. Costs of new technologies and a limited ability to share data in a timely and efficient manner across sectors are barriers to furthering understanding. In addition, whilst the concepts of natural capital and ecosystem services are considered a useful tool to support the achievement of conservation goals, practical application is challenging.
  4. Continued collaborative research efforts and engagement with industry to share knowledge and resources could offer cost‐effective solutions to some of these barriers. Further elaboration of the concepts of natural capital and ecosystem services will aid understanding of the costs and benefits associated with human–environment interactions and support informed decision‐making in conserving the deep sea.
  5. Whilst multiple challenges arise for deep‐sea conservation, it is critical to continue ongoing conservation efforts, including exploration and collaboration, and to adopt new conservation strategies that are implemented in a systematic and holistic way and to ensure that these are adaptive to growing economic interest in this marine area.

Remote monitoring of a deep‐sea marine protected area: The Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents

S. Juniper K, Thornborough K, Douglas K, Hillier J. Remote monitoring of a deep‐sea marine protected area: The Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems [Internet]. 2019 ;29(S2):84 - 102. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/aqc.3020
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article
  1. Deep‐sea marine protected areas (MPAs) present particular challenges for management. Their remote location means there is limited knowledge of species and habitat distribution, and rates and scales of change. Yet, evaluating the attainment of conservation objectives and managing the impact of human activities both require a quantitative understanding of natural variability in species composition/abundance and habitat conditions.
  2. Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are collaborating in the development of remote monitoring tools for the Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents MPA in the north‐east Pacific. This 98.5 km2 MPA, located 250 km offshore Vancouver Island, encompasses five major fields of hydrothermal vents, at depths of 2200–2400 m. A real‐time cabled observatory was installed at the Endeavour site in 2010.
  3. Scientific research for the conservation, protection and understanding of the area is permitted within the MPA and is the primary activity impacting the area. Research activities require the use of submersibles for sampling, surveying and observatory infrastructure maintenance. Data and imagery from remotely operated vehicle dives and fixed subsea observatory sensors are archived in real time using ONC's Oceans 2.0 software system, enabling evaluation of the spatial footprint of research activity in the MPA and the baseline level of natural ecosystem change.
  4. Recent examples of database queries that support MPA management include: (1) using ESRI ArcGIS spatial analysis tools to create kernel density ‘heat maps’ to quantify the intensity of sampling and survey activity within the MPA; and (2) quantifying high‐frequency variability in vent fauna and habitat using sensor and fixed camera data.
  5. Collaboration between researchers and MPA managers can help mitigate the logistical challenges of monitoring remote MPAs. Recognition at the policy level of the importance of such partnerships could facilitate the extension of scientific missions to support more formal monitoring programmes.

Distribution and quantification of bioluminescence as an ecological trait in the deep sea benthos

Martini S, Kuhnz L, Mallefet J, Haddock SHD. Distribution and quantification of bioluminescence as an ecological trait in the deep sea benthos. Scientific Reports [Internet]. 2019 ;9(1). Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-50961-z
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Bioluminescence is a prominent functional trait used for visual communication. A recent quantification showed that in pelagic ecosystems more than 75% of individual macro-planktonic organisms are categorized as able to emit light. In benthic ecosystems, only a few censuses have been done, and were based on a limited number of observations. In this study, our dataset is based on observations from remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives conducted from 1991–2016, spanning 0–3,972 m depth. Data were collected in the greater Monterey Bay area in central California, USA and include 369,326 pelagic and 154,275 epibenthic observations at Davidson Seamount, Guide Seamount, Sur Ridge and Monterey Bay. Because direct observation of in situ bioluminescence remains a technical challenge, taxa from ROV observations were categorized based on knowledge gained from the literature to assess bioluminescence status. We found that between 30–41% of the individual observed benthic organisms were categorized as capable of emitting light, with a strong difference between benthic and pelagic ecosystems. We conclude that overall variability in the distribution of bioluminescent organisms is related to the major differences between benthic and pelagic habitats in the deep ocean. This study may serve as the basis of future investigations linking the optical properties of various habitats and the variability of bioluminescent organism distributions.

An atlas of protected hydrothermal vents

Menini E, Van Dover CLee. An atlas of protected hydrothermal vents. Marine Policy [Internet]. 2019 ;108:103654. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0308597X18309394
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Active hydrothermal vents are valued worldwide because of the importance of their biodiversity and their influence on scientific discovery and insight about life on Earth and elsewhere in the Universe. There exist at least 20 areas and area networks with conservation measures for deep-sea hydrothermal vents, established by 12 countries and three Regional Fisheries Management Organisations, in six oceanic regions. Area-based management tools (ABMT) implemented by these countries illustrate multiple categories and means of protection and management of these rare and vulnerable habitats. Some ABMTs only regulate bottom and deep-trawling fisheries activities, others manage additional activities such as mining, scientific research, and bioprospecting, while still others protect active hydrothermal vents through broad conservation interventions. This atlas summarizes the “who”, “what”, “when”, “where” of protected hydrothermal vents worldwide and underscores recognition of the importance of hydrothermal-vent ecosystems by coastal States.

Coral Translocation as a Method to Restore Impacted Deep-Sea Coral Communities

Boch CA, DeVogelaere A, Burton E, King C, Lord J, Lovera C, Litvin SY, Kuhnz L, Barry JP. Coral Translocation as a Method to Restore Impacted Deep-Sea Coral Communities. Frontiers in Marine Science [Internet]. 2019 ;6. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2019.00540/full
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Corals and sponges in rocky deep-sea environments are foundation species postulated to enhance local diversity by increasing biogenic habitat heterogeneity and enriching local carbon cycling. These key groups are highly vulnerable to disturbances (e.g., trawling, mining, and pollution) and are threatened by expansive changes in ocean conditions linked to climate change (acidification, warming, and deoxygenation). Once damaged by trawling or other disturbances, recolonization and regrowth may require centuries or longer, highlighting the need for stewardship of these deep-sea coral and sponge communities (DSCSCs). To this end, the sustainability of DSCSCs may be enhanced not only by protecting existing communities, but also repopulating disturbed areas using active restoration methods. Here, we report one of the first studies to explore methods to restore deep-sea coral populations by translocating coral fragments of multiple coral species. Branches of deep-sea corals were collected by ROV from 800 to 1300 m depth off central California and propagated into multiple fragments once at the surface. These fragments were then attached to “coral pots” using two different methods and placed in the same habitat to assess their survivorship (n = 113 total fragments, n = 7 taxa, n = 7 deployment groups). Mean survivorship for all translocated coral fragments observed within the first 365 days was ∼52%, with the highest mortality occurring in the first 3 months. In addition to an initial temporal sensitivity, survival of coral fragments varied by attachment method and among species. All coral fragments attached to coral pots using zip ties died, while those attached by cement resulted in differential survivorship over time. The latter method resulted in 80–100% fragment survivorship after 1 year for Corallium sp., Lillipathes sp., and Swiftia kofoidi, 12–50% for the bamboo corals Keratoisissp. and Isidella tentaculum, and 0–50% for the bubblegum corals Paragorgia arborea and Sibogagorgia cauliflora. These initial results indicate differences in sensitivities to transplanting methods among coral species, but also suggest that repopulation efforts may accelerate the recovery of disturbed DSCSCs.

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