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Biological responses to disturbance from simulated deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining

Biological responses to disturbance from simulated deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining
Biological responses to disturbance from simulated deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining
Commercial-scale mining for polymetallic nodules could have a major impact on the deep-sea environment, but the effects of these mining activities on deep-sea ecosystems are very poorly known. The first commercial test mining for polymetallic nodules was carried out in 1970. Since then a number of small-scale commercial test mining or scientific disturbance studies have been carried out. Here we evaluate changes in faunal densities and diversity of benthic communities measured in response to these 11 simulated or test nodule mining disturbances using meta-analysis techniques. We find that impacts are often severe immediately after mining, with major negative changes in density and diversity of most groups occurring. However, in some cases, the mobile fauna and small-sized fauna experienced less negative impacts over the longer term. At seven sites in the Pacific, multiple surveys assessed recovery in fauna over periods of up to 26 years. Almost all studies show some recovery in faunal density and diversity for meiofauna and mobile megafauna, often within one year. However, very few faunal groups return to baseline or control conditions after two decades. The effects of polymetallic nodule mining are likely to be long term. Our analyses show considerable negative biological effects of seafloor nodule mining, even at the small scale of test mining experiments, although there is variation in sensitivity amongst organisms of different sizes and functional groups, which have important implications for ecosystem responses. Unfortunately, many past studies have limitations that reduce their effectiveness in determining responses. We provide recommendations to improve future mining impact test studies. Further research to assess the effects of test-mining activities will inform ways to improve mining practices and guide effective environmental management of mining activities.
1932-6203
Jones, Daniel O.B.
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Kaiser, Stefanie
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Sweetman, Andrew K.
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Smith, Craig R.
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Menot, Lenaick
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Vink, Annemiek
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Trueblood, Dwight
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Greinert, Jens
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Billett, David S.M.
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Martinez Arbizu, Pedro
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Radziejewska, Teresa
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Singh, Ravail
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Ingole, Baban
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Stratmann, Tanja
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Simon-Lledó, Erik
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Durden, Jennifer M.
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Clark, Malcolm R.
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Jones, Daniel O.B.
44fc07b3-5fb7-4bf5-9cec-78c78022613a
Kaiser, Stefanie
3c42fae9-a3e5-4717-8c3f-c231abad8d21
Sweetman, Andrew K.
5304cde0-8e83-4a68-8249-fa2d9e70d8bb
Smith, Craig R.
f930361f-9312-4e0a-9832-26008197eb32
Menot, Lenaick
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Vink, Annemiek
15517cd3-44a4-479f-a69a-103d66e230c0
Trueblood, Dwight
dffcfa55-12d3-498e-b4fa-f65fbd5450e7
Greinert, Jens
4e3d5578-8e20-402e-bb76-6742df96f8db
Billett, David S.M.
aab439e2-c839-4cd2-815c-3d401e0468db
Martinez Arbizu, Pedro
0d564347-76d9-440e-8374-d760ce7d1ffc
Radziejewska, Teresa
8baf50fd-7586-46bb-9d98-f6e1453e205f
Singh, Ravail
d101bd6f-c24a-4e6b-839e-123838e5de63
Ingole, Baban
3ef8d55f-4c7e-4ef4-9878-3c171077883a
Stratmann, Tanja
3f96a898-312d-4dff-9ad0-171d22235ce9
Simon-Lledó, Erik
80f67b3a-44e7-466e-aed5-06b0ba788ca2
Durden, Jennifer M.
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Clark, Malcolm R.
cd47dc3e-9154-4ef9-a32f-d0e798c4e259

Jones, Daniel O.B., Kaiser, Stefanie, Sweetman, Andrew K., Smith, Craig R., Menot, Lenaick, Vink, Annemiek, Trueblood, Dwight, Greinert, Jens, Billett, David S.M., Martinez Arbizu, Pedro, Radziejewska, Teresa, Singh, Ravail, Ingole, Baban, Stratmann, Tanja, Simon-Lledó, Erik, Durden, Jennifer M. and Clark, Malcolm R. (2017) Biological responses to disturbance from simulated deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining. PLoS ONE, 12 (2). (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0171750).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Commercial-scale mining for polymetallic nodules could have a major impact on the deep-sea environment, but the effects of these mining activities on deep-sea ecosystems are very poorly known. The first commercial test mining for polymetallic nodules was carried out in 1970. Since then a number of small-scale commercial test mining or scientific disturbance studies have been carried out. Here we evaluate changes in faunal densities and diversity of benthic communities measured in response to these 11 simulated or test nodule mining disturbances using meta-analysis techniques. We find that impacts are often severe immediately after mining, with major negative changes in density and diversity of most groups occurring. However, in some cases, the mobile fauna and small-sized fauna experienced less negative impacts over the longer term. At seven sites in the Pacific, multiple surveys assessed recovery in fauna over periods of up to 26 years. Almost all studies show some recovery in faunal density and diversity for meiofauna and mobile megafauna, often within one year. However, very few faunal groups return to baseline or control conditions after two decades. The effects of polymetallic nodule mining are likely to be long term. Our analyses show considerable negative biological effects of seafloor nodule mining, even at the small scale of test mining experiments, although there is variation in sensitivity amongst organisms of different sizes and functional groups, which have important implications for ecosystem responses. Unfortunately, many past studies have limitations that reduce their effectiveness in determining responses. We provide recommendations to improve future mining impact test studies. Further research to assess the effects of test-mining activities will inform ways to improve mining practices and guide effective environmental management of mining activities.

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Submitted date: 2 November 2016
Accepted/In Press date: 31 January 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 8 February 2017
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science, Marine Biogeochemistry

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 403579
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/403579
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: 368e1585-8c53-4f51-83fd-af8db63e8d64

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Date deposited: 01 Feb 2017 10:52
Last modified: 09 Dec 2019 19:21

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