Project Highlights

Global Seamounts Project

Synthesis of GSP Field Campaign & Ecosystem Modeling

Jim Costopulos, CEO

Global Oceans, New York, NY, USA

Defining an initial scientific scope and set of objectives for the Global Seamounts Project began with a review of research priorities for seamounts with links to conservation and management challenges for these systems, including insights from reports on the recent Census of Marine Life on Seamounts (CenSeam).

Observation and outcome priorities for the field surveys (e.g. measures of biodiversity) and biophysical modeling (e.g. understanding recovery dynamics after resource extraction) informed the proposed field measurements and analytical methods. Field survey parameters were then linked to corresponding ecosystem modeling inputs and anticipated outputs (see Figure 1).

The objective of the GSP Field Campaign is to generate comprehensive, multidisciplinary measurements over a geographically representative number of seamounts. Disciplinary GSP Working Groups will design and oversee the relevant field work for each area represented (see Figure 2).

The use of project-configured MARV research vessels, labs, vehicles, and instruments throughout the project, and standardized analytical methods defined by the Working Groups, will enable generation of environmental datasets that are intercalibrated between surveyed seamounts. Aggregated data from field surveys will be processed, hosted, and archived on a cloud-based computing and data storage platform for common input into multiple biophysical models.

A series of virtual GSP Biophysical/Ecosystem Modeling Workshops are planned in the first half of 2021 to select and define a group of marine ecosystem models, emerging modeling frameworks and theoretical approaches, and a recommended scope and resolution of datasets to be generated from the twenty GSP Field Campaign expeditions. 

A parallel series of GSP Field Campaign Workshops will develop a field science plan to generate the recommended modeling data consistent with what is technically and methodologically feasible. This approach to structuring a comprehensive, standardized field survey aligned closely with what is defined at the outset of the project as needed to develop new behavioral models of complex ecosystem function for seamounts is  a unique and potentially transformative approach.

To achieve this ambitious objective the project will survey, sample and document seamounts at a scale that has not been achieved to date, encompassing:

  • A range of topography, covering diverse physical characteristics of seamounts including depth, size, composition, and substrate.

  • A wide range of habitats and sub-habitats, including summits, flanks, calderas, and basal regions.

  • Comprehensive faunal studies, from microbial systems to mega-fauna.

  • Inclusion of water column biodiversity and processes.

  • Metrics on the role and function of species and communities within the ecosystem, such as ecological traits and trophic dynamics.

  • Inclusion of both previously studied and newly identified and described systems.

  • Spatiotemporal data from selected sites obtained from sensor-mounted submersible gliders and fixed moorings over six to twelve-month periods.