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NATURAL VARIABILITY AND THE PREDICTION OF CHANGE IN MARINE BENTHIC ECOSYSTEMS

Objective

The general objectives of this project are: 1) to describe the structures and variability of offshore benthic populations of the north-east Atlantic; 2) to relate the structure and variability to processes in the physical, chemical and biological environment; 3) to describe the trophic network and the organic carbon flux through the deep-sea benthic ecosystem; 4) to attempt to predict the changes associated with natural and anthropogenic disturbance.
Work was carried out on aspects of the biology of the benthic communities of the Continental Slope and Abyss in the northeastern Atlantic. The unifying themes were the objectives of describing environmental and biological variability at a variety of temporal and spatial scales, and investigating the effects of disturbance on the benthos. The preliminary results confirm the current view of the small scale patchiness of the deep sea floor, and emphasize the importance of the nature, amount and periodicity of the supply of organic matter, along with biogenic and physical disturbance, in determining the structure and functioning of the sea bed communities.
Benthic samples ranging in size from bacteria to fish, together with environmental data, will be collected from a variety of localities in the north-east Atlantic from the continental shelf to abyssal depths. The samples will be analysed using a wide range of quantitative and qualitative techniques and the resulting data used in a series of individual projects with specific objectives within the general aims. These projects will deal with community structure based on both taxa and size; variability of the communities in time and space; reproductive biology, demography and feeding strategies of individual species; and the relationship between all of these features and biotic and abiotic environmental factors.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

NERC Institute of Oceanographic Sciences
Address
Deacon Laboratory Brook Road Wormley
GU8 5UB Godalming
United Kingdom

Participants (9)

INSTITUT OCEANOGRAPHIQUE - 'FONDATION ALBERT 1ER, PRINCE DE MONACO'
France
Address
Rue Saint Jacques 195
75005 Paris
NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND, GALWAY
Ireland
Address
University Road
90 Galway
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
United Kingdom
Address
Cromwell Road
London
NERC Centre of Coastal and Marine Sciences
United Kingdom
Address

PA34 4AD Oban
THE UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL
United Kingdom
Address
Bedford Street North
L69 3BX Liverpool
UNIVERSITY OF HAMBURG
Germany
Address
Moorweidenstrasse, 18
20148 Hamburg
Universidade de Lisboa
Portugal
Address
Estrada Do Guincho
2750 Cascais
Universiteit Gent
Belgium
Address
35,K.l. Ledeganckstraat
9000 Gent
University of Southampton
United Kingdom
Address
European Way
SO14 3ZH Southampton