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Content archived on 2024-05-29

Biogeochemical and physical drivers of deep European margin ecosystems


Ocean margins are areas of special interest in the field of biogeochemical processes governing exchanges between the continent and the open ocean, and specially those of the carbon cycle. Also, owing to their high biodiversity, ocean margin biota represents an enormous genetic resource, which we are only just beginning to appreciate.

The present application, named BIODEM (BIOgeochemical and physical Drivers of deep European Margin ecosystems), aims to understand the biogeochemical (sediment transport, seabed composition, organic matter input) and physical (water column and near-bed current regime) drivers of two margin ecosystems: canyon systems and cold-water coral systems. Canyons are deep incisions of the continental shelf and slope, known as hotspots of bio diversity, major pathways for transportation and burial of organic carbon, and fast-track corridors for material transported from the land to the deep sea. BIODEM will focus on two canyons in the western Mediterranean Sea, the Lacaze-Duthiers and Cap de Creus Canyons (Gulf of Lions).

Cold-water corals are suspension feeders, and therefore they are commonly found along bathymetric highs such as seamounts and ridges where currents tend to increase food availability. Even cold-water corals are widely distribute d in the Mediterranean Sea, living cold-water corals are only reported near the Cap de Creus and at the Strait of Gibraltar, and only in the Strait of Gibraltar an active living reef has been observed. BIODEM will focus on these two coral systems in the western Mediterranean Sea. The integrated study of environmental constraints upon which these deep-ocean ecosystems and communities rely will improve the scientific knowledge and will support policy decisions concerning the sustainable management of natural resources.

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