Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Deep-sea Species' Loss Could Lead To Oceans' Collapse, Study Suggests

Date:
December 28, 2007
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
The loss of deep-sea species poses a severe threat to the future of the oceans, suggests a new report in Current Biology. In a global-scale study, the researchers found some of the first evidence that the health of the deep sea, as measured by the rate of critical ecosystem processes, increases exponentially with the diversity of species living there.

In a global-scale study, researchers found some of the first evidence that the health of the deep sea, as measured by the rate of critical ecosystem processes, increases exponentially with the diversity of species living there.
Credit: NASA

The loss of deep-sea species poses a severe threat to the future of the oceans, suggests a new report publishing early online on December 27th and in the January 8th issue of Current Biology, a publication of Cell Press. In a global-scale study, the researchers found some of the first evidence that the health of the deep sea, as measured by the rate of critical ecosystem processes, increases exponentially with the diversity of species living there.

Related Articles


"For the first time, we have demonstrated that deep-sea ecosystem functioning is closely dependent upon the number of species inhabiting the ocean floor," said Roberto Danovaro of the Polytechnic University of Marche, in Italy. "This shows that we need to preserve biodiversity, and especially deep-sea biodiversity, because otherwise the negative consequences could be unprecedented. We must care about species that are far from us and [essentially] invisible."

Ecosystem functioning involves several processes, which can be summarized as the production, consumption, and transfer of organic matter to higher levels of the food chain, the decomposition of organic matter, and the regeneration of nutrients, he explained.

Recent investigations on land have suggested that biodiversity loss might impair the functioning and sustainability of ecosystems, Danovaro said. However, the data needed to evaluate the consequences of biodiversity loss on the ocean floor had been completely lacking, despite the fact that the deep sea covers 65% of the Earth and is "by far the most important ecosystem for the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus of the biosphere." The deep sea also supports the largest "biomass" of living things, including a large proportion of undiscovered species.

In the new study, Danovaro's team examined the biodiversity of nematode worms and several independent indicators of ecosystem functioning and efficiency at 116 deep-sea sites. Nematodes are the most abundant animals on earth and account for more than 90% of all life at the bottom of the sea. Earlier studies have also suggested that nematode diversity is a good proxy for the diversity of other deep-sea species.

They found that sites with a higher diversity of nematodes support exponentially higher rates of ecosystem processes and an increased efficiency with which those processes are performed. Efficiency reflects the ability of an ecosystem to exploit the available energy in the form of food sources, the researchers said. Overall, they added, "our results suggest that a higher biodiversity can enhance the ability of deep-sea benthic systems to perform the key biological and biogeochemical processes that are crucial for their sustainable functioning."

The sharp increase in ecosystem functioning as species numbers rise further suggests that individual species in the deep sea make way for more species or facilitate one another, Danovaro said. That's in contrast to terrestrial-system findings, which have generally shown a linear relationship between diversity and ecosystem functioning, he noted, suggesting complementary relationships among species.

"Deep-sea ecosystems provide goods (including biomass, bioactive molecules, oil, gas, and minerals) and services (climate regulation, nutrient regeneration and supply to the [upper ocean], and food) and, for their profound involvement in global biogeochemical and ecological processes, are essential for the sustainable functioning of our biosphere and for human wellbeing," the researchers concluded. "Our results suggest that the conservation of deep-sea biodiversity can be crucial for the sustainability of the functions of the largest ecosystem" on the planet.

The researchers include Roberto Danovaro, Department of Marine Science, Faculty of Science, Polytechnic University of Marche, Via Brecce Bianche, Ancona, Italy; Cristina Gambi, Department of Marine Science, Faculty of Science, Polytechnic University of Marche, Via Brecce Bianche, Ancona, Italy; Antonio Dell'Anno, Department of Marine Science, Faculty of Science, Polytechnic University of Marche, Via Brecce Bianche, Ancona, Italy; Cinzia Corinaldesi, Department of Marine Science, Faculty of Science, Polytechnic University of Marche, Via Brecce Bianche, Ancona, Italy; Simonetta Fraschetti, Ann Vanreusel, Marine Biology Section, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium; Magda Vincx, Marine Biology Section, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium; and Andrew J. Gooday, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Deep-sea Species' Loss Could Lead To Oceans' Collapse, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071227184100.htm>.
Cell Press. (2007, December 28). Deep-sea Species' Loss Could Lead To Oceans' Collapse, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071227184100.htm
Cell Press. "Deep-sea Species' Loss Could Lead To Oceans' Collapse, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071227184100.htm (accessed April 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Voice-Controlled GPS Helmet to Help Bikers

Voice-Controlled GPS Helmet to Help Bikers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Apr. 1, 2015) — Motorcyclists will no longer have to rely on maps or GPS systems, both of which require riders to take their eyes off the road, once a new Russian smart helmet goes on sale this summer. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kashmir Mops Up After Heavy Flooding

Kashmir Mops Up After Heavy Flooding

AFP (Apr. 1, 2015) — The clean-up operation is in full swing in Indian Kashmir after heavy rain triggered flooding around the mountainous region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tracking This Warbler's 'Extraordinary' Transoceanic Flight

Tracking This Warbler's 'Extraordinary' Transoceanic Flight

Newsy (Apr. 1, 2015) — The blackpoll warbler makes one of the longest nonstop flights in the animal kingdom: three days straight for some 1,500 miles. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brush Fire Threatens California Buildings

Brush Fire Threatens California Buildings

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 31, 2015) — A brush fire with zero containment burns in Apple Valley California, threatening over 100 structures and forcing the evacuation of local residents. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins