The BIOTA/FAPESP program is an effort that has been mapping the biological diversity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in the State of Sao Paulo with extreme success. In marine areas, this effort has historically been concentrated in coastal ecosystems, leaving the deep ocean biota habitat - one of the largest global repositories of species - largely unknown. Evidence shows that organic islands contribute significantly to deep benthic biodiversity, with highly specialized life histories. However, there is a large gap on the large scale patterns of biodiversity, biogeography and connectivity of the populations that exploit these islands, as well as on the relationships between diversity and ecosystem function. The present proposal aims to study the biota associated with organic-rich islands in the deep-sea (whale bones and wood parcels) in the SE Brazilian margin, in areas under whale migratory routes and historical proximity to large continental forests. In order to address these questions, we will use an advanced experimental design through the implantation of whale bones and wood parcels using low-cost autonomous vehicles (landers) at depths of 1500 and 3000 m along the Brazilian continental margin for 15 months, allowing the colonization of substrates by specialized micro- and macroorganisms. Ecological, molecular and genetic analyses of whale bone and wood associated macro- and microfauna will be used to address regional and bathymetric patterns of benthic biota, the connectivity between populations of specialists in the Southwest Atlantic and also their trophic and ecosystem function in the degradation of organic substrates in the deep SW Atlantic. Interbasin comparison of biodiversity and functioning of these islands (SW Atlantic vs. NE Pacific) will be achieved through an international collaboration project, which will be jointly submitted to the National Science Foundation by Dr. Craig R. Smith of the University of Hawaii. This is a highly innovative scientific proposal in Brazil, with national and international partners of high scientific level, and will use a pioneer low-cost methodology in deep sea ecosystems, which are areas of difficult access with the resources previously available for institutions in Sao Paulo and Brazil, but that should be facilitated by investments made by FAPESP and IOUSP, with the recent purchase of a new oceanographic vessel and a research boat. (AU)
Articles published in Pesquisa FAPESP Magazine about the research grant:
SUMIDA, PAULO Y. G.;
BERNARDINO, ANGELO F.;
PEREIRA, OLIVIA S.;
NAKAYAMA, CRISTINA R.;
NOBREGA, II, MARCOS;
PELLIZARI, VIVIAN H.;
Discovery of asphalt seeps in the deep Southwest Atlantic off Brazil.
DEEP-SEA RESEARCH PART II-TOPICAL STUDIES IN OCEANOGRAPHY,
Web of Science Citations: 8.