MEDECO Leg 2 cruise report. R/V Pourquoi pas ? 02 to 30 November 2007 Rhodes-Toulon

Type Report
Date 2008-12
Language English
Author(s) Pierre Catherine1, Mascle Jean2, Dupre StephanieORCID3
Affiliation(s) 1 : Locean, France
2 : Univ Paris 06, France
3 : Ifremer, france
Abstract The MEDECO Leg 2 cruise followed the MEDECO Leg 1 cruise that had crossed the Mediterranean Sea from the west to the east to study benthic communities of the Var canyon, deep corals found on the Calabrian Margin and cold seep ecosystems of the Mediterranean Ridge.
The main objective of the MEDECO Leg 2 cruise was to study and compare, using a multidisciplinary approach, the structure and dynamics of deep-sea ecosystems at various active cold seep sites from the Nile deep sea fan and the Calabrian Arc, in the Eastern Mediterranean sea.
During MEDECO Legs 1 & 2, a multiscale strategy was promoted to integrate (1) a high resolution cartography of geological structures (km2 scale), (2) a detailed mapping, including video imagery, of smaller-scale areas (scale 100 to 300 m2), (3) the physical, chemical and sedimentary characteristics of the habitat (multiscale), (4) the structure and functioning of faunal communities, including microbes, in terms of composition, diversity and biomass (multiscale), (5) small scale studies of interactions between organisms and their environment (scale < m2), (6) detailed ecophysiological studies at the organism scale on invertebrates.
The use of the ROV “Victor 6000” and of various equipments for in situ and ex situ observations and measurements has helped reaching our objectives. The MEDECO cruise represented the key-Mediterranean cruise of the HERMES project “Hotspot Ecosystem Research on the Margins of European Seas” (P.I. P. Weaver, NOC-Southampton).
The cruise was organized to follow the objectives of the HERMES program to better understand the functioning of deep ecosystems of the continental margins aiming at obtaining: (1) the description and quantification of the natural drivers (geological, hydrological, chemical factors) that control the distribution of ecosystems on margins; (2) the characterization and quantification of biodiversity, from bacteria to megafauna, as well as the knowledge of ecosystem functioning; (3) the study of ecosystems dynamics including the biology/physiology of key-species.
Specific objectives. Colonization experiments conducted in the frame of two European programs, Diwoo and Chemeco, have given the opportunity to recover the fauna installed in the devices deployed during the Bionil cruise (2006) and to deploy new ones at the same site located in the pockmark area of the central province of Nile deep sea fan.
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