Dark Ophiuroid Biodiversity in a Prospective Abyssal Mine Field

Type Article
Date 2019-11
Language English
Author(s) Christodoulou Magdalini1, O’hara Timothy D.2, Hugall Andrew F.2, Arbizu Pedro Martinez1
Affiliation(s) 1 : German Centre for Marine Biodiversity Research, Senckenberg am Meer, Südstrand 44, 26382 Wilhelmshaven, Germany
2 : Museums Victoria, Sciences Department, 11 Nicholson Street, Carlton 3054, VIC, Australia
Source Current Biology (0960-9822) (Elsevier BV), 2019-11 , Vol. 29 , N. 22 , P. 3909-3912.e3
DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2019.09.012
WOS© Times Cited 39

The seafloor contains valuable mineral resources, including polymetallic (or manganese) nodules that form on offshore abyssal plains. The largest and most commercially attractive deposits are located in the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCZ), in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EP) between Hawaii and Mexico, where testing of a mineral collection system is set to start soon [1]. The requirement to establish pre-mining environmental management plans has prompted numerous recent biodiversity and DNA barcoding surveys across these remote regions. Here we map DNA sequences from sampled ophiuroids (brittle stars, including post-larvae) of the CCZ and Peru Basin onto a substantial tree of life to show unprecedented levels of abyssal ophiuroid phylogenetic diversity including at least three ancient (>70 Ma), previously unknown clades. While substantial dark (unobserved) biodiversity has been reported from various microbial meta-barcoding projects [2, 3], our data show that we have considerably under-estimated the biodiversity of even the most conspicuous mega-faunal invertebrates [4] of the EP abyssal plain.

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