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Content archived on 2024-04-16



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.


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

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Participants (9)