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Ecology of Arctic cold seeps and their impacts on the larger Arctic marine ecosystem

18.11.2019, 13:15
MARUM Research Seminar
MARUM I, room 2070

Arunima Sen

Cold seeps are specialized ecosystems fueled by the seafloor release of reduced gases. They are ubiquitous in the world’s oceans and have been intensively studied in the 40 years since their discovery. However, seeps in polar regions such as the Arctic received very little attention and represented a major gap in our knowledge of cold seeps. We used ship based remote technology such as towed cameras and ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) to gain a significant understanding of Arctic seeps within the span of only a few years, and in a fraction of the time needed to gain the same level of understanding through more traditional ecological methods and sampling. Our results indicate that Arctic seeps deviate from certain trends considered general of seeps and therefore offer a whole new dimension to our understanding of seep systems. We further reveal unexpected connections to and impacts on the larger marine ecosystem. This includes the potential for shaping evolutionary trajectories of high latitude fauna and the possibility of them functioning as ‘refuges’ for northern species in the wake of influxes and migration of southern species. Therefore, our methods have allowed for a progression from nearly a blank slate to revealing new, fundamental insight into both cold seep and Arctic ecology within a short period of time.

Arunima Sen
Arunima Sen