About this Research Topic
The Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the equatorial Pacific, a vast (1000 x 4000 km) region of abyssal plains punctuated by seamounts, is targeted for seabed mining of polymetallic nodules. To safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem functions across the region in the face of mining, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in 2012 provisionally designated nine 400x400 km no-mining areas, called Areas of Particular Environmental Interest (APEIs). The APEIs were designed, based on environmental correlates of biodiversity and ecosystem function, to be representative of the full range of habitats and seafloor communities potentially impacted by nodule-mining activities, including those within the 16 licensed mining exploration areas spanning the CCZ.
Since 2012, a substantial number of research expeditions have collected biodiversity and ecosystem function data within the CCZ providing a new opportunity to assess regional patterns. A recent workshop (the Deep CCZ Biodiversity Synthesis Workshop (Oct 1-4, 2019 at Friday Harbor, WA, USA)) convened ~45 scientific experts to (1) collect and review available biodiversity and ecosystem function data from the CCZ, and (2) synthesize patterns of seafloor and benthic-boundary-layer biodiversity, community structure, species ranges, genetic connectivity, ecosystem function, and habitat heterogeneity along and across the CCZ. The major goal of this volume will be to produce 10 or more synthetic, peer-reviewed papers to present existing knowledge of patterns of biodiversity, connectivity and ecosystem function across the CCZ and then relate these patterns to the management of polymetallic nodule mining, and marine conservation, across the region. A key goal will be to evaluate the representativity of the APEIs relative to the licensed mining exploration areas in the CCZ.
Manuscripts will provide syntheses and/or new data concerning the following aspects of biodiversity, ecosystem function and connectivity across the CCZ.
1) Microbial biodiversity in sediments, nodules and the deep water column.
2) Diversity and connectivity of metazoan meiofauna in sediments.
3) Diversity and biogeography of benthic foraminifera.
4) Biodiversity of sediment macrofauna.
5) Biodiversity and biogeography of invertebrate megafauna.
6) Biodiversity and biogeography of fishes and invertebrate scavengers.
7) Habitat classification across the CCZ.
8) Metazoan diversity and biogeography based on eDNA assays.
9) Molecular connectivity and gene flow of benthic invertebrates.
10) The diversity and distribution of seafloor fossils.
11) Synthesis of biodiversity, connectivity, and biogeography results across all biodiversity components, followed by recommendations concerning management of deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining.
12) Benthic ecosystem functioning across the CCZ.
Drs. Craig Smith, Adrian Glover, Erica Goetze and Kerry Howell have received research support from UKSR. Drs. Adrian Glover and Erica Goetze receive research support from DeepGreen. The other Topic Editor declares no competing interest with regards to the Research Topic theme.
The Topic Editors Craig Smith, Adrian Glover, Malcolm Clark, Eria Goetze, and Kerry Howell declare that they participated in the Deep CCZ Biodiversity Synthesis Workshop and are collaborating with the workshop community.
Keywords: biodiversity, deep-sea, seabed mining, connectivity, human impacts
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