The LOTUS project consists of 2 years at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and 1 year at Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen.The objectives of the study are to evaluate the use of long-term and permanent monitoring platforms in the deep-sea, and to use the data provided in basic studies of deep-sea animal biology. Novel techniques will include the use of an autonomous bottom-crawling "rover" vehicle to measure benthic parameters and dock with an undersea network, and the installation of a fixed camera and se dimentation monitoring station. Each phase of the study will be preceded by detailed studies of animal distribution, behaviour, sedimentation rate and quality, benthic metabolism, and flow regime across the wider region of the proposed monitoring sites. Th ese data willallow suitable sites to be chosen for permanent monitoring, put the outputs of the fixed stations into context, and determine how reliable the conclusions drawn will be. A programme of experiments both in the Pacific and at contrasting Europea n sites will investigate the importance of food supply from the surface and from chemosynthetic communities in controlling the behaviour, distribution, and activity of deep-ocean animals. The detail and quality of the data available during LOTUS is likely to allow these studies to make a major and fundamental impact on this field. LOTUS will provide a pilot study for the implementation of ocean monitoring in the EU. This capability is currently lacking within Europe, risking environmental damage and placing European scientists and marine industries at a competitive disadvantage.
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