Project Description
The Deepwater Program: Northern Gulf of Mexico Continental Slope Habitats and Benthic Ecology (DGoMB) program is funded by the Minerals Management Services (MMS). The program is intended to provide information to the MMS to develop a better understanding of the deep-sea areas that will be potentially impacted by current and future exploration and production of fossil fuel reserves in the deep water Gulf of Mexico (GOM), defined as the area with water depths from 300 to 3000 meters and mostly in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the United States. The study is focused on areas that are most likely to be the target of future resource exploration and production. However, to develop an understanding of deep-sea communities, sampling in areas beyond those thought to be potential areas for exploration may be needed. A Gulf-wide perspective is sought to define the structure and function of the deep-sea communities of interest.

The proposed program will provide a better understanding of:

the present condition of biological communities in the study area,
the distribution and patterns of important deep-sea biota,
the biological and physical processes that control the environmental setting, and the effects that these processes have on the character of benthic and benthopelagic communities.
The study emphasizes understanding the make-up and variability of soft-bottom biological communities with a secondary effort to characterize the important biological and abiotic processes that sustain or change the observed patterns. The study will:

detail the composition and structure of slope biological communities
infer the relationship between these communities and local conditions and forcing factors, characterize the health and functioning of deep-sea communities, and compare and contrast the GOM region with similar oceanic basins.

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