Ecosystem Function

Marine sediment ecosystems cover more of Earth than all other habitats combined, contributing significantly to global nutrient cycles, carbon and oxygen budgets, pollutant dynamics, and fisheries production (seafloor species comprise $2.5 billion of the $3 billion in total export value of Canadian fisheries).

Ocean Networks Canada benthic ecology research combines camera observations and interactive sampling with sediment traps and data from multiple sensors collecting uninterrupted measurements of temperature, oxygen, and nitrate. Results from Saanich Inlet show that taxon richness (a measure of biodiversity) correlates with oxygen concentration, indicating that, as hypoxia (low oxygen) increases, low diversity, hypoxia-tolerant species of low commercial significance will dominate benthic communities on the continental shelf.

See also the Vent Faune Ocean Dynamics Interaction Working Group page.

To learn more, contact staff scientist Fabio De Leo.