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Developing a clearer understanding of ocean ecosystems

July 30, 2013

The EU-funded HERMIONE project (‘Hotspot Ecosystem Research and Man’s Impact on European Seas’) has contributed much needed data on the complexity of deep-sea ecosystems. This in turn has created a community of scientists who continue to work together to better understand the remarkable world of the deep sea and its vast diversity of habitat and life.

Europe’s almost 90 000 km of coastline span a vast area of the globe, from the polar waters of the Arctic to the warm seas of the Mediterranean. Underneath the waves are some of the most spectacular ecosystems on Earth, including cold-water coral reefs and hydrothermal vents, supporting a huge diversity of life both beautiful and alien.

As remote as they may seem, these fantastic ecosystems are also vulnerable to the impacts of human activities and climate change. The HERMIONE project, with EUR 8 million in funding, has focused on investigating Europe’s marine ecosystems, including submarine canyons, seamounts, cold seeps, open slopes and deep basins. Scientists from a range of disciplines researched natural ocean dynamics, ecosystem distribution and interconnections, considering biodiversity, specific adaptions and biological capacity in the context of a wide range of highly vulnerable deep-sea habitats. The team included biologists, ecologists, microbiologists, biogeochemists, sedimentologists, physical oceanographers, modellers and socio-economists.

CORDIS News – Community Research and Development Information Service, EC, May 2013. News.

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