Observations of deep-sea fishes and mobile scavengers from the abyssal DISCOL experimental mining area.

Drazen, Jeffrey C. , Leitner, Astrid, Morningstar, Sage, Marcon, Yann , Greinert, Jens and Purser, Autun (2019) Observations of deep-sea fishes and mobile scavengers from the abyssal DISCOL experimental mining area. Open Access Biogeosciences (BG), 16 . pp. 3133-3146. DOI 10.5194/bg-16-3133-2019.

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Industrial interest in deep-sea mineral extraction began decades ago and today it is at an all-time high, accelerated by global demand for metals. Several seafloor ecosystem disturbance experiments were performed beginning in the 1970’s, including the DISturbance and reCOLonization experiment (DISCOL) conducted in the Peru Basin in 1989. A large seafloor disturbance was created by repeatedly plowing the seafloor over an area of ~ 10.8 km2. Though a number of studies in abyssal mining regions have evaluated megafaunal biodiversity and ecosystem responses, few have included quantitative and detailed data on fishes or scavengers despite their ecological importance as top predators. We used towed camera transects and baited camera data to evaluate the fish community at the DISCOL site. The abyssal fish community was relatively diverse with 16 taxa dominated by Ipnops meadi. Fish density was lower in ploughed habitat during the several years following disturbance but thereafter increased over time in part due to changes in regional environmental conditions. 26 years post disturbance there were no differences in overall total fish densities between reference and experimental areas, but the dominant fish, I. meadi, still exhibited much lower densities in ploughed habitat suggesting only partial fish community recovery. The scavenging community was dominated by eelpouts (Pachycara spp), hermit crabs (Probeebei mirabilis) and shrimp. The large contribution of hermit crabs appears unique amongst abyssal scavenger studies worldwide. The abyssal fish community at DISCOL was similar to that in the more northerly Clarion Clipperton Zone, though some species have only been observed at DISCOL thus far. Also, further species level identifications are required to refine this assessment. Additional studies across the polymetallic nodule provinces of the Pacific are required to further evaluate the environmental drivers of fish density and diversity and species biogeographies, which will be important for the development of appropriate management plans aimed at minimizing human impact from deep-sea mining.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: DISCOL; manganese nodule; teleost; scavenger; Macrouridae, Ipnopidae, Ophidiidae, Zoarcidae, crustacea
Research affiliation: MARUM
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems > DeepSea Monitoring
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
Publisher: Copernicus Publications (EGU)
Related URLs:
Projects: DISCOL 3, JPIO-MiningImpact
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2019 14:14
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2022 09:19
URI: https://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/45897

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