Journal article Open Access

A Blueprint for an Inclusive, Global Deep-Sea Ocean Decade Field Program

Howell, Kerry L; Hilário, Ana; Allcock, A Louise; Bailey, David M; Baker, Maria; Clark, Malcolm R; Colaço, Ana; Copley, Jon; Cordes, Erik E; Danovaro, Roberto; Dissanayake, Awantha; Escobar, Elva; Esquete, Patricia; Gallagher, Austin J; Gates, Andrew R; Gaudron, Sylvie M; German, Christopher R; Gjerde, Kristina M; Higgs, Nicholas D; Le Bris, Nadine; Levin, Lisa A; Manea, Elisabetta; McClain, Craig; Menot, Lenaick; Mestre, Nelia C; Metaxas, Anna; Milligan, Rosanna J; Muthumbi, Agnes WN; Narayanaswamy, Bhavani E; Ramalho, Sofia P; Ramirez-Llodra, Eva; Robson, Laura M; Rogers, Alex D; Sellanes, Javier; Sigwart, Julia D; Sink, Kerry; Snelgrove, Paul VR; Stefanoudis, Paris V; Sumida, Paulo Y; Taylor, Michelle L; Thurber, Andrew R; Vieira, Rui P; Watanabe, Hiromi K; Woodall, Lucy C; Xavier, Joana R


The ocean plays a crucial role in the functioning of the Earth System and in the provision of vital goods and services. The United Nations (UN) declared 2021–2030 as the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The Roadmap for the Ocean Decade aims to achieve six critical societal outcomes (SOs) by 2030, through the pursuit of four objectives (Os). It specifically recognizes the scarcity of biological data for deep-sea biomes, and challenges the global scientific community to conduct research to advance understanding of deep-sea ecosystems to inform sustainable management. In this paper, we map four key scientific questions identified by the academic community to the Ocean Decade SOs: (i) What is the diversity of life in the deep ocean? (ii) How are populations and habitats connected? (iii) What is the role of living organisms in ecosystem function and service provision? and (iv) How do species, communities, and ecosystems respond to disturbance? We then consider the design of a global-scale program to address these questions by reviewing key drivers of ecological pattern and process. We recommend using the following criteria to stratify a global survey design: biogeographic region, depth, horizontal distance, substrate type, high and low climate hazard, fished/unfished, near/far from sources of pollution, licensed/protected from industry activities. We consider both spatial and temporal surveys, and emphasize new biological data collection that prioritizes southern and polar latitudes, deeper ( > 2000 m) depths, and midwater environments. We provide guidance on observational, experimental, and monitoring needs for different benthic and pelagic ecosystems. We then review recent efforts to standardize biological data and specimen collection and archiving, making “sampling design to knowledge application” recommendations in the context of a new global program. We also review and comment on needs, and recommend actions, to develop capacity in deep-sea research; and the role of inclusivity - from accessing indigenous and local knowledge to the sharing of technologies - as part of such a global program. We discuss the concept of a new global deep-sea biological research program ‘Challenger 150,’ highlighting what it could deliver for the Ocean Decade and UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.

AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS KH and AH conceived the idea and convened the working group. KH, AH, AM, LL, ER-L, MB, PVRS, JX, HW, MC, EE, CG, SR, PE, and LM helped to conceive the manuscript and outline structure. All authors contributed ideas, text, and edits. FUNDING Development of this paper was supported by funding from the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) awarded to KH and AH as working group 159 co-chairs. KH, BN, and KS are supported by the UKRI funded One Ocean Hub NE/S008950/1. AH work is supported by the CESAM (UIDP/50017/2020 + 1432 UIDB/50017/2020) that is funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT)/MCTES through national funds. AA is supported by Science Foundation Ireland and the Marine Institute under the Investigators Program Grant Number SFI/15/IA/3100 co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund 2014–2020. AC is supported through the FunAzores -ACORES 01-0145-FEDER-000123 grant and by FCT through strategic project UID/05634/2020 and FCT and Direção-Geral de Politica do Mar (DGPM) through the project Mining2/2017/005. PE is funded by national funds (OE), through FCT in the scope of the framework contract foreseen in the numbers 4, 5 and 6 of the article 23, of the Decree-Law 57/2016, of August 29, changed by Law 57/2017, of July 19. SG research is supported by CNRS funds. CG is supported by an Independent Study Award and the Investment in Science Fund at WHOI. KG gratefully acknowledges support from Synchronicity Earth. LL is funded by the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (NA19OAR0110305) and the US National Science Foundation (OCE 1634172). NM is supported by FCT and DGPM, through the project Mining2/2017/001 and the FCT grants CEECIND/00526/2017, UIDB/00350/2020 + UIDP/00350/2020. SR is funded by the FCTgrant CEECIND/00758/2017. JS is supported by ANID FONDECYT #1181153 and ANID Millennium Science Initiative Program #NC120030. JX research is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program through the SponGES project (grant agreement no. 679849) and further supported by national funds through FCT within the scope of UIDB/04423/2020 and UIDP/04423/2020. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada supports AM and PVRS. MB and the Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative are supported by Arcadia - A charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. BN work is supported by the NERC funded Arctic PRIZE NE/P006302/1.
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