The main objective of the proposed research is to detect and quantify the transfer of shelf and surface derived organic matter to the benthos of the shelf, shelf break and slope on a seasonal, bathymetric and interannual basis. The source and fate of the particulate fluxes will be monitored as they precipitate through the water column. The response elicited by the benthic community, if and when energy is supplied, will be documented chemically and biologically.
The detailed aims of this study are:
- to acquire annual average primary production estimates;
- to characterize the biogeochemical exchanges between the Cretan continental shell and the adjacent open sea ecosystem of the oligotrophic Cretan Sea;
- to estimate the sedimentation rate in the Cretan Sea;
- to estimate the temporal and spatial variability of the benthic standing stock;
- to measure a variety of water column and sedimentary environmental parameters;
- to acquire sediment community oxygen consumption measurements (metallic demand), in order to detect seasonal fluctuations in relation to variations in the food supplied to the benthos;
- to measure nutrient fluxes between the sediment and the overlying water columns
- to monitor benthic activity photographically and conduct a videoscopic study of the area with the use of both the bathysnap camera system and the submersible JAG0;
- to relate the prevailing environmental parameters to the observed patterns of benthic community structure.
Many of the tasks to be undertaken in this project have never before been applied in the E. Mediterranean. This concerted multidisciplinary approach will serve to promote our understanding into the functioning of the oligotrophic Cretan Sea ecosystem.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
GU8 5UB Godalming
1790 AB Texel, Den Burg
16038 Santa Margherita Ligure