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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. 

Global Seamounts Project

Modeling Seamount Ecosystems

Ursula Scharler, PhD, 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.

Global Seamounts Project

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. 

Global Seamounts 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.

Global Seamounts Project

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.

Global Seamounts Project

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.

Global Seamounts Project

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.

Global Seamounts Project

Project Team & Advisors

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