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Deep seafloor ecosystems and associated geoprocesses

Deep seafloor ecosystems and associated geoprocesses - at present most prominently represented by the HERMES/HERMIONE FP7 Integrated Projects. Ecosystems of the deep seafloor are widespread, remote, poorly studied, potentially fragile and already being impacted by man, both directly through activities such as bottom-trawl fishing and hydrocarbon exploitation and indirectly through climate change. The EU made a commitment in the Göteborg Council of 2001 to halt biodiversity loss by 2010, but this cannot be achieved without a thorough knowledge of the composition and geographical distribution of ecosystems. HERMES-HERMIONE is tackling this important task and is hence complementary to the subseafloor sampling and drilling, because when combined, both area and depth will be investigated. Other examples of recent and ongoing projects include:

  • HYPOX for suboxic marine systems in the Black Sea.
  • CORAL-FISH and CARBONATE (ESF EuroMARC) projects tackling cold water corals and associated carbonate mounds.
  • EurOcean - a Network of Excellence (NoE) funded by the EU to integrate research organisations involved in research on global change and pelagic marine ecosystems.
  • SESAME - an EC-funded Integrated Project to assess and predict changes in the Mediterranean and Black Sea ecosystems.
  • MARBEF - a NoE funded by the EU to integrate expertise on marine biodiversity.

Gaining insight into the 2D distribution of deep seafloor ecosystems neatly complements subseafloor sampling efforts and deep biosphere research and will provide academia, stakeholders and policymakers with a comprehensive understanding of this extreme environment.