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Biological effects 26 years after simulated deep-sea mining

Biological effects 26 years after simulated deep-sea mining
Biological effects 26 years after simulated deep-sea mining

The potential for imminent abyssal polymetallic nodule exploitation has raised considerable scientific attention. The interface between the targeted nodule resource and sediment in this unusual mosaic habitat promotes the development of some of the most biologically diverse communities in the abyss. However, the ecology of these remote ecosystems is still poorly understood, so it is unclear to what extent and timescale these ecosystems will be affected by, and could recover from, mining disturbance. Using data inferred from seafloor photo-mosaics, we show that the effects of simulated mining impacts, induced during the “DISturbance and reCOLonization experiment” (DISCOL) conducted in 1989, were still evident in the megabenthos of the Peru Basin after 26 years. Suspension-feeder presence remained significantly reduced in disturbed areas, while deposit-feeders showed no diminished presence in disturbed areas, for the first time since the experiment began. Nevertheless, we found significantly lower heterogeneity diversity in disturbed areas and markedly distinct faunal compositions along different disturbance levels. If the results of this experiment at DISCOL can be extrapolated to the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, the impacts of polymetallic nodule mining there may be greater than expected, and could potentially lead to an irreversible loss of some ecosystem functions, especially in directly disturbed areas.

2045-2322
Simon-Lledó, Erik
80f67b3a-44e7-466e-aed5-06b0ba788ca2
Bett, Brian J.
61342990-13be-45ae-9f5c-9540114335d9
Huvenne, Veerle A.I.
f22be3e2-708c-491b-b985-a438470fa053
Köser, Kevin
c4db32b9-1cb5-4bfc-91fd-8ba4ab69f424
Schoening, Timm
76c160ff-472f-41bb-ba72-ba7388fde000
Greinert, Jens
4e3d5578-8e20-402e-bb76-6742df96f8db
Jones, Daniel O.B.
44fc07b3-5fb7-4bf5-9cec-78c78022613a
Simon-Lledó, Erik
80f67b3a-44e7-466e-aed5-06b0ba788ca2
Bett, Brian J.
61342990-13be-45ae-9f5c-9540114335d9
Huvenne, Veerle A.I.
f22be3e2-708c-491b-b985-a438470fa053
Köser, Kevin
c4db32b9-1cb5-4bfc-91fd-8ba4ab69f424
Schoening, Timm
76c160ff-472f-41bb-ba72-ba7388fde000
Greinert, Jens
4e3d5578-8e20-402e-bb76-6742df96f8db
Jones, Daniel O.B.
44fc07b3-5fb7-4bf5-9cec-78c78022613a

Simon-Lledó, Erik, Bett, Brian J., Huvenne, Veerle A.I., Köser, Kevin, Schoening, Timm, Greinert, Jens and Jones, Daniel O.B. (2019) Biological effects 26 years after simulated deep-sea mining. Scientific Reports, 9 (1), [8040]. (doi:10.1038/s41598-019-44492-w).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The potential for imminent abyssal polymetallic nodule exploitation has raised considerable scientific attention. The interface between the targeted nodule resource and sediment in this unusual mosaic habitat promotes the development of some of the most biologically diverse communities in the abyss. However, the ecology of these remote ecosystems is still poorly understood, so it is unclear to what extent and timescale these ecosystems will be affected by, and could recover from, mining disturbance. Using data inferred from seafloor photo-mosaics, we show that the effects of simulated mining impacts, induced during the “DISturbance and reCOLonization experiment” (DISCOL) conducted in 1989, were still evident in the megabenthos of the Peru Basin after 26 years. Suspension-feeder presence remained significantly reduced in disturbed areas, while deposit-feeders showed no diminished presence in disturbed areas, for the first time since the experiment began. Nevertheless, we found significantly lower heterogeneity diversity in disturbed areas and markedly distinct faunal compositions along different disturbance levels. If the results of this experiment at DISCOL can be extrapolated to the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, the impacts of polymetallic nodule mining there may be greater than expected, and could potentially lead to an irreversible loss of some ecosystem functions, especially in directly disturbed areas.

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Accepted/In Press date: 17 May 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 1 December 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 431951
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/431951
ISSN: 2045-2322
PURE UUID: a49da176-8e0f-4939-a4fa-e38168a61d42
ORCID for Veerle A.I. Huvenne: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7135-6360

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Date deposited: 24 Jun 2019 16:30
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 01:49

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Contributors

Author: Erik Simon-Lledó
Author: Brian J. Bett
Author: Veerle A.I. Huvenne ORCID iD
Author: Kevin Köser
Author: Timm Schoening
Author: Jens Greinert
Author: Daniel O.B. Jones

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