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      Megafauna of the German exploration licence area for seafloor massive sulphides along the Central and South East Indian Ridge (Indian Ocean)

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          Abstract

          The growing interest in mineral resources of the deep sea, such as seafloor massive sulphide deposits, has led to an increasing number of exploration licences issued by the International Seabed Authority. In the Indian Ocean, four licence areas exist, resulting in an increasing number of new hydrothermal vent fields and the discovery of new species. Most studies focus on active venting areas including their ecology, but the non-vent megafauna of the Central Indian Ridge and South East Indian Ridge remains poorly known.In the framework of the Indian Ocean Exploration project in the German license area for seafloor massive sulphides, baseline imagery and sampling surveys were conducted yearly during research expeditions from 2013 to 2018, using video sledges and Remotely Operated Vehicles.This is the first report of an imagery collection of megafauna from the southern Central Indian- and South East Indian Ridge, reporting the taxonomic richness and their distribution. A total of 218 taxa were recorded and identified, based on imagery, with additional morphological and molecular confirmed identifications of 20 taxa from 89 sampled specimens. The compiled fauna catalogue is a synthesis of megafauna occurrences aiming at a consistent morphological identification of taxa and showing their regional distribution. The imagery data were collected during multiple research cruises in different exploration clusters of the German licence area, located 500 km north of the Rodriguez Triple Junction along the Central Indian Ridge and 500 km southeast of it along the Southeast Indian Ridge.

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          Man and the Last Great Wilderness: Human Impact on the Deep Sea

          The deep sea, the largest ecosystem on Earth and one of the least studied, harbours high biodiversity and provides a wealth of resources. Although humans have used the oceans for millennia, technological developments now allow exploitation of fisheries resources, hydrocarbons and minerals below 2000 m depth. The remoteness of the deep seafloor has promoted the disposal of residues and litter. Ocean acidification and climate change now bring a new dimension of global effects. Thus the challenges facing the deep sea are large and accelerating, providing a new imperative for the science community, industry and national and international organizations to work together to develop successful exploitation management and conservation of the deep-sea ecosystem. This paper provides scientific expert judgement and a semi-quantitative analysis of past, present and future impacts of human-related activities on global deep-sea habitats within three categories: disposal, exploitation and climate change. The analysis is the result of a Census of Marine Life – SYNDEEP workshop (September 2008). A detailed review of known impacts and their effects is provided. The analysis shows how, in recent decades, the most significant anthropogenic activities that affect the deep sea have evolved from mainly disposal (past) to exploitation (present). We predict that from now and into the future, increases in atmospheric CO2 and facets and consequences of climate change will have the most impact on deep-sea habitats and their fauna. Synergies between different anthropogenic pressures and associated effects are discussed, indicating that most synergies are related to increased atmospheric CO2 and climate change effects. We identify deep-sea ecosystems we believe are at higher risk from human impacts in the near future: benthic communities on sedimentary upper slopes, cold-water corals, canyon benthic communities and seamount pelagic and benthic communities. We finalise this review with a short discussion on protection and management methods.
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            The abyssal seafloor covers more than 50% of the Earth and is postulated to be both a reservoir of biodiversity and a source of important ecosystem services. We show that ecosystem structure and function in the abyss are strongly modulated by the quantity and quality of detrital food material sinking from the surface ocean. Climate change and human activities (e.g. successful ocean fertilization) will alter patterns of sinking food flux to the deep ocean, substantially impacting the structure, function and biodiversity of abyssal ecosystems. Abyssal ecosystem response thus must be considered in assessments of the environmental impacts of global warming and ocean fertilization.
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              The East Pacific Rise near 21°N, 13°N and 20°S: inferences for along-strike variability of axial processes of the Mid-Ocean Ridge

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Biodiversity Data Journal
                BDJ
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-2828
                1314-2836
                September 28 2021
                September 28 2021
                : 9
                Article
                10.3897/BDJ.9.e69955
                © 2021

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