Resilience of benthic deep-sea fauna to mining activities.

Gollner, Sabine, Kaiser, Stefanie, Menzel, Lena, Jones, Daniel O.B., Brown, Alastair, Mestre, Nelia C., van Oevelen, Dick, Menot, Lenaick, Colaço, Ana, Canals, Miquel, Cuvelier, Daphne, Durden, Jennifer M., Gebruk, Andrey, Egho, Great A., Haeckel, Matthias , Marcon, Yann, Mevenkamp, Lisa, Morato, Telmo, Pham, Christopher K., Purser, Autun, Sanchez-Vidal, Anna, Vanreusel, Ann, Vink, Annemiek and Martinez Arbizu, Pedro (2017) Resilience of benthic deep-sea fauna to mining activities. Marine Environmental Research, 129 . pp. 76-101. DOI 10.1016/j.marenvres.2017.04.010.

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Supplementary data:



• Deep-sea mineral exploration and exploitation licenses have been issued recently.
• Mining will modify the abiotic and biotic environment.
• At directly mined sites, species are removed and cannot resist disturbance.
• Recovery is highly variable in distinct ecosystems and among benthic taxa.
• Community changes may persist over geological time-scales at directly mined sites.


With increasing demand for mineral resources, extraction of polymetallic sulphides at hydrothermal vents, cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts at seamounts, and polymetallic nodules on abyssal plains may be imminent. Here, we shortly introduce ecosystem characteristics of mining areas, report on recent mining developments, and identify potential stress and disturbances created by mining. We analyze species’ potential resistance to future mining and perform meta-analyses on population density and diversity recovery after disturbances most similar to mining: volcanic eruptions at vents, fisheries on seamounts, and experiments that mimic nodule mining on abyssal plains. We report wide variation in recovery rates among taxa, size, and mobility of fauna. While densities and diversities of some taxa can recover to or even exceed pre-disturbance levels, community composition remains affected after decades. The loss of hard substrata or alteration of substrata composition may cause substantial community shifts that persist over geological timescales at mined sites.

Document Type: Article
Funder compliance: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/EC/FP7/603418
Keywords: Deep ocean, Disturbance, Minerals, Mining, Abyssal plains, Hydrothermal vents, Seamounts, Resilience, Recovery, Benthos
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
Publisher: Elsevier
Projects: MIDAS, MERCES, NUREIEV, JPIO-MiningImpact
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2017 07:18
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 09:09

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