Census of Diversity of Abyssal Marine Life

Project Description
A deep-sea project documenting species diversity of abyssal plains to increase understanding of the historical causes and ecological factors regulating biodiversity and global change.
Census of Diversity of Abyssal Marine Life (CeDAMar) is one of seven initial field projects of the Census of Marine Life (CoML). The goal of this project is to document actual species diversity of abyssal plans as a basis for global change research and for a better understanding of historical causes and actual ecological factors regulating biodiversity. To achieve this, CeDAMar will collect reliable data on the large-scale distribution of one of the largest and most inaccessible environments on our planet.

The Deep Unkown
The deep sea harbors vast numbers of species, most of which are still unknown. Global estimates of marine species vary between 500,000 and 10 million. Since there is no inventory of the fauna of even a single ocean basin, extrapolation of total species numbers of the global abyssal fauna is impossible or at best very speculative. The program will focus on benthic, epibenthic and hyperbenthic organisms because of their high species-richness.

The study of the deep sea offers a number of advantages. Environmental factors appear to be more homogenous in the deep sea than in many other environments and are easier to measure due to the relative uniformity of large areas. Anthropogenic effects are reduced, and communities are for the most part found in their natural state. Geological information on kinds and age of the sediments in the deep sea is available from past and ongoing projects.

Scientific Objectives
CeDAMar will develop standardized protocols for surveying marine organisms in abyssal marine sediments, including reliable collecting devices in order to avoid damage to fragile deepsea animals. The standard protocols will enable results from different ocean basins will be comparable today as well as in the future. CeDAMar will also contribute to the development and testing of new, more efficient collecting techniques.

Samples will be collected along approximately 1000 km long transects. To exclude small-scale variations which could influence biodiversity estimations, larger areas will be sampled with an epibenthic sledge and repeated box corer (or new devices with the same function) and multicorer hauls. Underwater cameras will document the morphology of the ocean bed, the effects of bioturbation and the abundance of microfauna. The collected material will be analyzed with modern systematic methods.

Summary provided by http://www.coml.org/projects/census-diversity-abyssal-marine-life-c...