DOI: 10.1101/463992Nov 6, 2018Paper

Impacts of Deep-Sea Mining on Microbial Ecosystem Services

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Beth N OrcuttM. Pachiadaki

Abstract

Interest in extracting mineral resources from the seafloor through deep-sea mining has accelerated substantially in the past decade, driven by increasing consumer demand for various metals like copper, zinc, manganese, cobalt and rare earth elements. While there are many on-going discussions and studies evaluating potential environmental impacts of deep-sea mining activities, these focus primarily on impacts to animal biodiversity. The microscopic spectrum of life on the seafloor and the services that this microbial realm provides in the deep sea are rarely considered explicitly. In April 2018, a community of scientists met to define the microbial ecosystem services that should be considered when assessing potential impacts of deep-sea mining, and to provide recommendations for how to evaluate these services. Here we show that the potential impacts of mining on microbial ecosystem services in the deep sea vary substantially, from minimal expected impact to complete loss of services that cannot be remedied by protected area offsets. We conclude by recommending that certain types of ecosystems should be \"off limits\" until initial characterizations can be performed, and that baseline assessments of microbial diversity, biomass, ...Continue Reading

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