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Biodiversity's big wet secret: the global distribution of marine biological records reveals chronic under-exploration of the deep pelagic ocean.

Webb TJ, Vanden Berghe E, O'Dor R - PLoS ONE (2010)

Bottom Line: Understanding the distribution of marine biodiversity is a crucial first step towards the effective and sustainable management of marine ecosystems.They also effectively highlight gaps in our knowledge of particular marine regions.Given both its value in the provision of a range of ecosystem services, and its vulnerability to threats including overfishing and climate change, there is a pressing need to increase our knowledge of Earth's largest ecosystem.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom. t.j.webb@sheffield.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Background: Understanding the distribution of marine biodiversity is a crucial first step towards the effective and sustainable management of marine ecosystems. Recent efforts to collate location records from marine surveys enable us to assemble a global picture of recorded marine biodiversity. They also effectively highlight gaps in our knowledge of particular marine regions. In particular, the deep pelagic ocean--the largest biome on Earth--is chronically under-represented in global databases of marine biodiversity.

Methodology/principal findings: We use data from the Ocean Biogeographic Information System to plot the position in the water column of ca 7 million records of marine species occurrences. Records from relatively shallow waters dominate this global picture of recorded marine biodiversity. In addition, standardising the number of records from regions of the ocean differing in depth reveals that regardless of ocean depth, most records come either from surface waters or the sea bed. Midwater biodiversity is drastically under-represented.

Conclusions/significance: The deep pelagic ocean is the largest habitat by volume on Earth, yet it remains biodiversity's big wet secret, as it is hugely under-represented in global databases of marine biological records. Given both its value in the provision of a range of ecosystem services, and its vulnerability to threats including overfishing and climate change, there is a pressing need to increase our knowledge of Earth's largest ecosystem.

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The proportion of recorded marine biodiversity originating from the midwater pelagic ecosystem.The ocean is split into the depth zones defined in Table 1. Midwater is defined as all of the water column except the 10m nearest the surface or the 10m (for the continental shelf) or 100m (for the mesopelagic continental slope) above the sea bed, and for the other ocean zones as the water column excluding the 100m nearest the surface and the 200m (for the bathypelagic zone and the abyssal plain) or 1000m (for the hadal zone) above the sea bed. For each zone, the plot shows the median, interquartile range and total range of observed proportions. The shallowest two depths (0—10m and 10—20m) are excluded, as there is no midwater according to our definition.
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pone-0010223-g003: The proportion of recorded marine biodiversity originating from the midwater pelagic ecosystem.The ocean is split into the depth zones defined in Table 1. Midwater is defined as all of the water column except the 10m nearest the surface or the 10m (for the continental shelf) or 100m (for the mesopelagic continental slope) above the sea bed, and for the other ocean zones as the water column excluding the 100m nearest the surface and the 200m (for the bathypelagic zone and the abyssal plain) or 1000m (for the hadal zone) above the sea bed. For each zone, the plot shows the median, interquartile range and total range of observed proportions. The shallowest two depths (0—10m and 10—20m) are excluded, as there is no midwater according to our definition.

Mentions: The letters (A-E) used for each depth zone match those used in Figures 2 and 3. Depth resolution refers to the subdivision of the water column to each depth zone used in subsequent analyses.


Biodiversity's big wet secret: the global distribution of marine biological records reveals chronic under-exploration of the deep pelagic ocean.

Webb TJ, Vanden Berghe E, O'Dor R - PLoS ONE (2010)

The proportion of recorded marine biodiversity originating from the midwater pelagic ecosystem.The ocean is split into the depth zones defined in Table 1. Midwater is defined as all of the water column except the 10m nearest the surface or the 10m (for the continental shelf) or 100m (for the mesopelagic continental slope) above the sea bed, and for the other ocean zones as the water column excluding the 100m nearest the surface and the 200m (for the bathypelagic zone and the abyssal plain) or 1000m (for the hadal zone) above the sea bed. For each zone, the plot shows the median, interquartile range and total range of observed proportions. The shallowest two depths (0—10m and 10—20m) are excluded, as there is no midwater according to our definition.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2914017&req=5

pone-0010223-g003: The proportion of recorded marine biodiversity originating from the midwater pelagic ecosystem.The ocean is split into the depth zones defined in Table 1. Midwater is defined as all of the water column except the 10m nearest the surface or the 10m (for the continental shelf) or 100m (for the mesopelagic continental slope) above the sea bed, and for the other ocean zones as the water column excluding the 100m nearest the surface and the 200m (for the bathypelagic zone and the abyssal plain) or 1000m (for the hadal zone) above the sea bed. For each zone, the plot shows the median, interquartile range and total range of observed proportions. The shallowest two depths (0—10m and 10—20m) are excluded, as there is no midwater according to our definition.
Mentions: The letters (A-E) used for each depth zone match those used in Figures 2 and 3. Depth resolution refers to the subdivision of the water column to each depth zone used in subsequent analyses.

Bottom Line: Understanding the distribution of marine biodiversity is a crucial first step towards the effective and sustainable management of marine ecosystems.They also effectively highlight gaps in our knowledge of particular marine regions.Given both its value in the provision of a range of ecosystem services, and its vulnerability to threats including overfishing and climate change, there is a pressing need to increase our knowledge of Earth's largest ecosystem.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom. t.j.webb@sheffield.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Background: Understanding the distribution of marine biodiversity is a crucial first step towards the effective and sustainable management of marine ecosystems. Recent efforts to collate location records from marine surveys enable us to assemble a global picture of recorded marine biodiversity. They also effectively highlight gaps in our knowledge of particular marine regions. In particular, the deep pelagic ocean--the largest biome on Earth--is chronically under-represented in global databases of marine biodiversity.

Methodology/principal findings: We use data from the Ocean Biogeographic Information System to plot the position in the water column of ca 7 million records of marine species occurrences. Records from relatively shallow waters dominate this global picture of recorded marine biodiversity. In addition, standardising the number of records from regions of the ocean differing in depth reveals that regardless of ocean depth, most records come either from surface waters or the sea bed. Midwater biodiversity is drastically under-represented.

Conclusions/significance: The deep pelagic ocean is the largest habitat by volume on Earth, yet it remains biodiversity's big wet secret, as it is hugely under-represented in global databases of marine biological records. Given both its value in the provision of a range of ecosystem services, and its vulnerability to threats including overfishing and climate change, there is a pressing need to increase our knowledge of Earth's largest ecosystem.

Show MeSH