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A Better Understanding Of Biodiversity Hot Spots Could Protect Them From Deep Sea Mining

Source: Phys.org/National Oceanography Centre/Southampton - March 9, 2018 in Politics

A Better Understanding Of Biodiversity Hot Spots Could Protect Them From Deep Sea Mining
Photo: NOAA Ocean Explorer/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

New insights into animal patterns around extinct submarine volcanoes could inform measures used to protect marine ecosystems from human activities, such as trawling and deep-sea mining. These insights have been published today in Nature Scientific Reports, and show that the structure of marine life communities depends on depth and small-scale features on the sea floor.

Lissette Victorero, the Ph.D.- student who led this research, from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and the University of Southampton, said “The approaches used in the study have previously mainly been used to investigate ecosystems on land. However, I found them especially useful for prioritising areas worth protecting by pinpointing unique animal communities on the . This can be a powerful tool for conservation and management. For example, monitoring the impacts of trawling and future mining on deep-sea biodiversity.”

Extinct deep-sea volcanoes, or seamounts, are biodiversity hotspots, hosting substantial coral and sponge communities and abundant fish stocks. The study used video footage from a robotic remotely operated vehicle (ROV) up to 3 km deep, collected during a research expedition.

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