Illuminated Rock

Global Seamounts Project

The Global Seamounts Project (GSP) is an international scientific initiative that will explore and model one of the ocean’s largest , most productive, and least understood biomes: oceanic seamounts. 


The project proposes to mount a major series of deep-sea expeditions over the next six years to conduct intensive, standardized surveys of representative seamount ecosystems in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean basins. Teams of ecosystem modelers will concurrently populate leading ecosystem models augmented with emerging modeling frameworks, with GSP field campaign datasets.


This project will accelerate the science of seamounts from what has historically been a descriptive approach toward an understanding of complex ecosystem function and behavioral responses to environmental stressors. One that can explore feedbacks, synergies, resilience, and potential tipping points from multiple factors driven by climate change, resource extraction, pollution, and other impacts.


The development of next-generation biophysical models for oceanic ecosystems will ultimately be crucial to understanding and influencing the course of potential impacts from human-driven stressors and climate change. The Global Seamounts Project will move us in that direction. 


Click on the Project Overview button below for more information about this project.


“No report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would fail to mention global climate models. Yet the international bodies that are charged with addressing global challenges in conservation…cannot refer to analogous models of the world’s ecosystems. Why? Because ecologists have not yet built them.”


Purves, Drew, et al. "Time to model all life on Earth." Nature 493.7432 (2013): 295-297.


“Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning research needs to embrace the challenge of extracting order from complexity… This research is now maturing; it has advanced sufficiently to move beyond simply invoking the precautionary principle as it has done throughout its history.”


Naeem, Shahid, J. Emmett Duffy, and Erika Zavaleta. "The functions of biological diversity in an age of extinction." Science 336.6087 (2012): 1401-1406.

Project Highlights

Malcolm R. Clark, PhD: On the Global Seamounts Project (Video)

Malcolm R. Clark, PhD, GSP Science Co-Chair & Principal Scientist at the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Wellington, NZ shares why we need to better understand ecosystem function on seamounts and how the Global Seamounts Project will better enable resource management and conservation. 

Modeling Seamount Ecosystems

Ursula Scharler, PhD, GSP Modeling Chair & Associate Professor

University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Modeling frameworks can be divided into two distinct approaches: one that aims to describe the dynamics of the ecosystem, the other identifies attributes of system function. These approaches will be combined in the GSP's plan to generate a more integrated picture of system function and behaviour for seamounts.

Synthesis of GSP Field Campaign & Ecosystem Modeling

Jim Costopulos, CEO

Global Oceans, New York, NY, USA


The GSP Field Campaign and Ecosystem Modeling process is planned as a unique collaborative effort that wil generate comprehensive survey data on seamounts with the scope and resolution needed to popuate ecosystem models, as defined at the outset of the project. 

Taxonomy & Systematics: Understanding Seamount Biodiversity

Daniel M. Lauretta, PhD

Coastal ecosystems, platform, and deep-sea lab, Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia, Buenos Aires, Argentina


The GSP will collect and analyze a wide range of biological samples from an intensive global field campaign on deep-sea seamounts, presenting a rare opportunity for detailed taxonomic analysis using molecular and morphological data. The GSP will also prioritize opportunities for the next generation of scientists studying deep-sea fauna.

Spatiotemporal Measurements Over Seamounts

Oscar Schofield, PhD, Distinguished Professor

Chair, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences

Center of Ocean Observing Leadership, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ USA


The biophysical modeling work of the GSP will require measurement of temporal biogeochemical and productivity fluxes for selected project sites, over multiple seasonal periods. A combination of autonomous gliders, moorings, and other methods are planned to achieve this.

Geomorphic Proxies for Benthic Biodiversity on Seamounts

Jesse van der Grient, PhD, Post-doctoral Researcher

Dept of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA

Orhun Aydin, PhD, Spatial Statistics Research

Esri, Inc., Redlands, CA, USA


The development and use of geomorphic proxies to estimate deep-sea benthic biodiversity and structure has made initial progress. Exploring the utility of this approach for the GSP is considered when thinking about how to estimate seamount system-wide benthic biodiversity and biomass for use in populating ecosystem models.

Implications for Resource Conservation and Policy Development

David Vousden, PhD, Professor of Ocean Governance

Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

Ben Fitzpatrick, PhD, Director

Oceanwise, Australia, Perth, Australia


The GSP will document a wide range of biophysical parameters on seamounts to develop new ecosystem modeling tools for understanding complex, synergistic behavioral responses to climate change and human impacts. These tools will better inform decisions about sustainable resource management and conservation regionally, and contribute to more effective international policy development.

Consortium for Ocean Leadership to Lead GSP Administration

Kristen Yarincik, Vice President and Director, Research & Education

Leigh Zimmermann, Assistant Director/Senior Program Manager

Consortium for Ocean Leadership, Washington, DC, USA


The Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) in Washington, DC, USA will serve as the Project Administration and Outreach node for the Global Seamounts Project (GSP). COL has decades of experience in administering large-scale scientific programs and in bringing the scientific community together around major research initiatives.

Project Team & Advisors

GSP Steering Committee

The current GSP Steering Committee has been instrumental in scoping and developing this project and its scientific vision over the past few years. As the project moves to the Working Groups, workshops, and research planning phase, the Committee is actively inviting broader participation at the Steering Committee level and in Science Advisory roles. We are seeking diverse participation from international scientists, especially from developing regions, early career scientists, graduate students, and wider disciplinary participation including from the biophysical/complex system modeling communities. 

Jim Costopulos *

Jim Costopulos *

GSP Project Operations Chair, CEO, Global Oceans

New York City, New York, USA 

Malcolm Clark, PhD *

Malcolm Clark, PhD *

GSP Science Co-Chair, Principal Scientist

National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) Wellington, NZ 

Ursula Scharler, PhD *

Ursula Scharler, PhD *

GSP Modeling Chair, Professor, Theoretical & Applied Ecology

University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa 

Alex Rogers, PhD *

Alex Rogers, PhD *

GSP Science Co-Chair, Professor, Conservation Biology

University of Oxford, Oxford, UK 

Paul Snelgrove, PhD *

Paul Snelgrove, PhD *

University Research Professor

Memorial University of Newfoundland, Newfoundland, Canada 

Bernd Christiansen, PhD

Bernd Christiansen, PhD

Senior Scientist

Institute of Hydrobiology and Fisheries Science, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Christian Mohn, PhD

Christian Mohn, PhD

Senior Scientist

Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Denmark

Kajal Lechman

Kajal Lechman

GSP Modeling Workshop Coordinator

Global Oceans Intern

University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

GSP Science Advisory Council


Note: GSP Steering Committee members (above) and Science Advisors (below) indicated with an asterick (*) are also members of the GSP Ecosystem Modeling Workshop Steering Committee. The committee held two planning meetings in 2020 for the first GSP Ecosystem Modeling Workshop, planned for early 2021.   


Tim O'Hara, PhD, Deputy Head, Marine Sciences, Museum of Victoria, Victoria, Australia


Nadine Le Bris, PhD, Full Professor, Marine Chemistry, Ecology and Biogeochemistry, Sorbonne Universite, Observatoire Oceanologique de Banyuls, France


* Richard Bailey, PhD, Associate Professor of Geochronology, University of Oxford, UK; Co- Director, Oxford Martin School Programme on Sustainable Oceans; Leader, CoHESys Lab research group


* Derek Tittensor, PhD, Professor, Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada


* Telmo Morato, PhD, Researcher, University of the Azores, Porta Delgata, Portugal 


* Sheila Heymans, Executive Director, European Marine Board, Oostende, Belgium


* Jason Link, Senior Scientist for Ecosystem Management, NOAA Fisheries, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA


Sonya Legg, PhD, Research Oceanographer, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), NOAA-OAR; Associate Director of Cooperative Institute for Climate Science,  Princeton University


Brian D. Fath, PhD, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Towson University, Maryland, USA; Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Ecological Modelling & Systems Ecology


Elena Rovenskaya, PhD, Director, Advanced Systems Analysis (ASA) Program, International Institute of Advanced Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria


Patrick Halpin, PhD, Associate Professor, Marine Geospatial Ecology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA


Nicolas Cassar, PhD, Associate Professor of Biogeochemistry, Earth and Ocean Sciences Division, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA


David Vousden, PhD, Professor of Ocean Governance, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa; Chair, Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP)


Javier Sellanes, PhD, Associate Researcher, Catholic University of the North, Antofagsta, Chile 


* Frank Muller-Karger, PhD, Professor, Biological Oceanography and Remote Sensing, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA


Ben Fitzpatrick, PhD, Director, Oceanwise Australia, Perth, Australia


* Ward Appeltans, Project Manager, OBIS, GOOS Biology & Ecosystems, IOC/UNESCO, Oostende, Belgium


Gregory Stone, PhD, Ocean Renaissance, LLC, Los Angeles, California, USA


* Andreas M. Thurnherr, PhD, Lamont Research Professor, Ocean and Climate Physics, Lamont- Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, New York, USA


Douglas Levin, PhD, Deputy Director & Chief Innovation Officer, Center for Environment & Society, Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland, USA


Jesse van der Grient, PhD, Post-doctoral Researcher, CoHESyS lab OUCE, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK

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