Mid-Atlantic Ridge (ECOMAR)

Ecosystems of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at the Sub-Polar Front and Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone

EuroCoML PI Link:

Professor Monty Priede, OceanLab, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, UK

ECOMAR is a £2 million UK project aimed at understanding how physical and biogeochemical factors influence the distributions and structure of deep-sea communities, focusing on the fauna of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at 4 sites in different environmental settings. The four sites are located on either side of the MAR and to the north and south of the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone (CGFZ), which coincides with the Sub-Polar Front. Using these localities we will investigate the effects of topography and currents on the distribution of the fauna, and the effects of varying organic input in two different biogeochemical settings.

The overall objectives of ECOMAR are 1) to determine the local and regional impact of the MAR as a physical structure on the ecology of the North Atlantic Basin in terms of production,biomass and biodiversity from the surface to the deep-sea benthos and 2) to use these data to infer the effects of mid ocean ridges on the global ocean.

ECOMAR is a NERC funded element of MAR-ECO : a field project of the Census of Marine Life.

ECOMAR Work Packages




* Describe the physical flow regimes, both at the surface and the seafloor, across four sites located either side of the sub-polar front. Reference will be made to their specific role in mixing nutrients and influencing the down-ward transport of organic carbon.

* By remote sensing, appropriately calibrated by in situ incubations, produce regional estimates of surface primary production and likely export flux over the study area.

* Measure the export flux of organic matter to the seafloor using sediment trap moorings located at each of the four study sites.

* Compare the distribution and abundance of pelagic biomass in relation to the position of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at either side of the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone and to the accompanying varying regimes of primary production encountered either side of the Sub-Polar Front.

* Measure benthic biodiversity and biomass comparing species composition with similar depths at East and West Atlantic margins using traps, suspended camera systems, landers, and targeted ROV-based survey and sampling.

* Assess the possible boundaries to gene flow at the MAR and Sub-Polar Front and also the genetic population structure of target species in comparison with the East and West Atlantic margins. Representative vertebrate and invertebrate species with different life histories will be compared to test hypotheses about the relationship between MAR ecology, physical oceanographic factors and genetic dispersal.

For further information click here

or contact the ECOMAR Administrator Dr Mark Shields - m.a.shields@abdn.ac.uk

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