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Centre for Deep Sea Research

Biodiversity and Community Ecology of Deep-Sea Sponge Grounds in the North Atlantic

PhD project of Heidi Kristina Meyer

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Project title

Biodiversity and Community Ecology of Deep-Sea Sponge Grounds in the North Atlantic

Supervisors

Hans Tore Rapp, Emyr Martyn Roberts, Joana Xavier (CIIMAR), Andrew Davies (URI), Ellen Kenchington (DFO)

Project description

Deep-sea sponge grounds are thought to be important habitats in the deep-sea, yet their ecology, biodiversity, and community structure is understudied. Very little is known about the associated megafauna and their use of sponge grounds, the differences in community composition between sponge ground types, and the primary drivers that influence sponge ground formation; all of which are critical for identifying, defining, and distinguishing between sponge ground types in the North Atlantic. Through annotating imagery and video footage collected by autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), I hope to narrow the knowledge gap on deep-sea sponge ground community structure, spatial ecology, and biodiversity. The results obtained from my project can be used to improve our understanding of deep-sea sponge grounds, generate extensive habitat maps, develop effective management plans, and implement sustainable regulations for deep-sea industries.