Biological responses to disturbance from simulated deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining

Type Article
Date 2017-02
Language English
Author(s) Jones Daniel O. B.1, Kaiser Stefanie2, Sweetman Andrew K.3, Smith Craig R.4, Menot LenaickORCID5, Vink Annemiek6, Trueblood Dwight7, Greinert Jens8, 9, Billett David S. M.1, Arbizu Pedro Martinez, Radziejewska Teresa10, Singh Ravail, Ingole Baban11, Stratmann Tanja12, 13, Simon-Lledo Erik1, 14, Durden Jennifer M.1, Clark Malcolm R.15
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Southampton, Natl Oceanog Ctr, Waterfront Campus, Southampton, Hants, England.
2 : German Ctr Marine Biodivers Res DZMB, Senckenberg Meer, Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
3 : Heriot Watt Univ, Lyell Ctr Earth & Marine Sci & Technol, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland.
4 : Univ Hawaii Manoa, Dept Oceanog, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA.
5 : IFREMER, Ctr Bretagne, Plouzane, France.
6 : Geozentrum Hannover, Bundesanstalt Geowissensch & Rohstoffe, Fed Inst Geosci & Nat Resources, Hannover, Germany.
7 : Univ New Hampshire, NOAA, Off Coastal Management, Durham, NH 03824 USA.
8 : GEOMAR Helmholtz Ctr Ocean Res Kiel, Kiel, Germany.
9 : Christian Albrechts Univ Kiel, Inst Geosci, Kiel, Germany.
10 : Univ Szczecin, Fac Geosci, Palaeoceanol Unit, Szczecin, Poland.
11 : CSIR, Natl Inst Oceanog, Panaji, Goa, India.
12 : NIOZ Royal Netherlands Inst Sea Res, Dept Estuarine & Delta Syst, Yerseke, Netherlands.
13 : Univ Utrecht, Yerseke, Netherlands.
14 : Univ Southampton, Natl Oceanog Ctr Southampton, Ocean & Earth Sci, European Way, Southampton, Hants, England.
15 : Natl Inst Water Atmospher Res, Wellington, New Zealand.
Source Plos One (1932-6203) (Public Library Science), 2017-02 , Vol. 12 , N. 2 , P. e0171750 (1-26)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0171750
WOS© Times Cited 192
Abstract Commercial-scale mining for polymetallic nodules could have a major impact on the deep-sea environment, but the effects of these mining activities on deep-sea ecosystems are very poorly known. The first commercial test mining for polymetallic nodules was carried out in 1970. Since then a number of small-scale commercial test mining or scientific disturbance studies have been carried out. Here we evaluate changes in faunal densities and diversity of benthic communities measured in response to these 11 simulated or test nodule mining disturbances using meta-analysis techniques. We find that impacts are often severe immediately after mining, with major negative changes in density and diversity of most groups occurring. However, in some cases, the mobile fauna and small-sized fauna experienced less negative impacts over the longer term. At seven sites in the Pacific, multiple surveys assessed recovery in fauna over periods of up to 26 years. Almost all studies show some recovery in faunal density and diversity for meiofauna and mobile megafauna, often within one year. However, very few faunal groups return to baseline or control conditions after two decades. The effects of polymetallic nodule mining are likely to be long term. Our analyses show considerable negative biological effects of seafloor nodule mining, even at the small scale of test mining experiments, although there is variation in sensitivity amongst organisms of different sizes and functional groups, which have important implications for ecosystem responses. Unfortunately, many past studies have limitations that reduce their effectiveness in determining responses. We provide recommendations to improve future mining impact test studies. Further research to assess the effects of test-mining activities will inform ways to improve mining practices and guide effective environmental management of mining activities.
Full Text
File Pages Size Access
Publisher's official version 26 1 MB Open access
S1 Table. Data used in meta-analysis. 48 KB Open access
S2 Table. Table of cruises related to simulated mining on the deep seafloor. 12 KB Open access
S3 Table. PRISMA checklist. 2 205 KB Open access
Top of the page

How to cite 

Jones Daniel O. B., Kaiser Stefanie, Sweetman Andrew K., Smith Craig R., Menot Lenaick, Vink Annemiek, Trueblood Dwight, Greinert Jens, Billett David S. M., Arbizu Pedro Martinez, Radziejewska Teresa, Singh Ravail, Ingole Baban, Stratmann Tanja, Simon-Lledo Erik, Durden Jennifer M., Clark Malcolm R. (2017). Biological responses to disturbance from simulated deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining. Plos One, 12(2), e0171750 (1-26). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :