In WP2, we will investigate the biodiversity, including functional diversity and connectivity of biological communities within and across deep-sea ecosystems in relation to environmental characteristics.
The ability to design conservation strategies (and potential restoration actions) in ecosystems targeted for mining requires knowledge on the different dimensions of biodiversity - ecosystem, species, genetic and functional diversities - and their interactions with oceanographical, geological and geochemical processes.
WP2 will use data/samples previously acquired through different European and national programs and new data from upcoming cruises to build a comprehensive data set for our ecosystems of interest, including data on taxonomic and functional diversity of all biological compartments from megafauna to microorganisms.
Metapopulation and source-sink dynamics, particularly important in patchy environments such as hydrothermal vents, will be used to define thresholds of connectivity, below which populations cannot be sustained or impacted habitats will not return to their initial state. The integration of biodiversity data and exploration of connectivity at multiple scales, in relation to environmental conditions, will be used to develop tools that inform decision making regarding spatial planning and allow the identification of diversity hot-spots, refuge areas and connectivity corridors to maximize ecosystem recovery.