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Deep-sea species' loss could lead to oceans' collapse, study suggests
Date:12/27/2007

nt 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. Thats 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.


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Contact: Cathleen Genova
cgenova@cell.com
617-397-2802
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

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