EuroDEEP Scientific Background

1. Biological characteristics and processes in the deep sea

  • Variation in metazoan biodiversity (species diversity, functional and food web diversity, niches) within and between habitats and ecosystems.

  • Life history strategies and interconnectivity between deep-sea habitats: physical and biological factors that drive/affect dispersal and gene flow (e.g. the stepping stone function)

  • Exploring the biodiversity of specific deep-sea habitats such as seamounts, deep-water coral reefs, vents, gas and fluid seeps, large organic inputs (e.g. wood or whale falls)

  • Understanding the biogeochemical pathways that sustain microbial systems and assessing the biodiversity of deep-sea microbes, their control and their possible interactions with metazoans

  • Impact of microbial and animal biodiversity on energy flow through benthic deep-sea ecosystems

  • Effects of climate change on deep-sea biodiversity

2. Abiotic processes in deep-sea habitats driving biodiversity variation

  • Understanding the impacts of physics and biogeochemistry of the benthic boundary layer on the biology of benthic organisms in the deep sea: near-bottom hydrodynamics, organic matter deposition and re-suspension, early diagenesis

  • Understanding deep-ocean hydrodynamics and geochemistry in hot spot ecosystems as related to the distribution of organisms and communities

3. Human impacts and ecosystem management

  • Evaluating the potential biodiversity and habitat loss caused by anthropogenic pressures such as fisheries, oil and gas exploitation, mining, dumping and CO2 sequestration in the deep-sea

  • Assessing deep sea ecosystem vulnerability to disturbance

  • Development of criteria for the establishment of deep-sea marine protected areas.