Ecological function in the Five Deeps

Using the submersible, Limiting Factor, video transects of the sea-bed were recorded and analysed alongside the data collected by the lander on the more mobile fauna. Combined with the physical samples recovered, we were able to go beyond simply what lives there and begin examining aspects of what they do.

As with every habitat, each species performs a function. Worms irrigate the sea-floor, sea cucumbers bioturbate the surface sediments, fish and crustaceans can rapidly disperse surface derived carbon, and all to a back drop of countless species interactions within a complex food web.

During the Five Deeps we were able to further our understanding of the importance of each of the roles played. The transects also helped us to produce estimates of population size and ecological significance. In combination, these data tell us about the importance of each species on the habitability of the hadal environment and also the health of the ocean as a whole.