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The deep ocean is the largest and least-explored ecosystem on Earth, and a uniquely energy-poor environment. The distribution, drivers and origins of deep-sea biodiversity remain unknown at global scales. Here we analyse a database of more than 165,000 distribution records of Ophiuroidea (brittle stars), a dominant component of sea-floor fauna, and find patterns of biodiversity unlike known terrestrial or coastal marine realms. Both patterns and environmental predictors of deep-sea (2,000–6,500m) species richness fundamentally differ from those found in coastal (0–20m), continental shelf (20–200m), and upper-slope (200–2,000m) waters. Continental shelf to upper-slope richness consistently peaks in tropical Indo-west Pacific and Caribbean (0–30°) latitudes, and is well explained by variations in water temperature. In contrast, deep-sea species show maximum richness at higher latitudes (30–50°), concentrated in areas of high carbon export flux and regions close to continental margins. We reconcile this structuring of oceanic biodiversity using a species–energy framework, with kinetic energy predicting shallow-water richness, while chemical energy (export productivity) and proximity to slope habitats drive deep-sea diversity. Our findings provide a global baseline for conservation efforts across the sea floor, and demonstrate that deep-sea ecosystems show a biodiversity pattern consistent with ecological theory, despite being different from other planetary-scale habitats.
Pteropods, also called sea butterflies, are tiny snails living in the water column that play a critical role in various ecosystems as prey for a variety of predators. There is a great concern about the potential impact of global change – and particularly ocean acidification – on these organisms as they exhibit an external shell, which is sensitive to changes in ocean chemistry. To represent the impact of both ocean acidification and global warming on pteropods, risk indicators have been calculated for three widely spread taxa that are dominant in high latitudes (Limacina helicina), temperate (Limacina retroversa), and warm waters (Creseis spp.). To create the indicators, experimental and observational data on pteropods’ response to global change were coupled with models describing chemical (aragonite saturation state) and physical (temperature) conditions of the ocean at present, in 2030 and 2050, under the “business as usual” carbon dioxide (CO2) emission scenario (RCP 8.5) and the “two degree stabilization” CO2 emission scenario (RCP 4.5). The present results confirm that global change is a very serious threat for high latitude pteropods: by 2050 under the CO2 emissions scenario RCP 8.5, they likely will not be able to thrive in most of the Arctic Ocean and some regions of the Southern Ocean.
Cetaceans are protected worldwide but vulnerable to incidental harm from an expanding array of human activities at sea. Managing potential hazards to these highly-mobile populations increasingly requires a detailed understanding of their seasonal distributions and habitats. Pursuant to the urgent need for this knowledge for the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, we integrated 23 years of aerial and shipboard cetacean surveys, linked them to environmental covariates obtained from remote sensing and ocean models, and built habitat-based density models for 26 species and 3 multi-species guilds using distance sampling methodology.
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On 31 May 2016 new data was loaded on the international OBIS portal, the total number of records stands now at just over 47 million, from 2089 individual data sets.
OBIS is the largest global repository of marine biodiversity data. As such, there is considerable interest among the research community in using OBIS data for large scale macroecological and biogeographic analyses. This is reflected in the number of citations of OBIS in the scientific literature.