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Potential impacts of polymetallic nodule removal on deep-sea meiofauna
Pape, E.; Bezerra, T.N.; Gheerardyn, H.; Buydens, M.; Kieswetter, A.; Vanreusel, A. (2021). Potential impacts of polymetallic nodule removal on deep-sea meiofauna. NPG Scientific Reports 11(1): 19996. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-99441-3
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322; e-ISSN 2045-2322, more
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  • Buydens, M.
  • Kieswetter, A.
  • Vanreusel, A., more

    Deep seabed mining is potentially imminent in the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ; northeast Pacific). Seabed collectors will remove polymetallic nodules and the surrounding surface sediments, both inhabited by meiofauna, along their path. To determine potential impacts of polymetallic nodule removal, we investigated the importance of nodule presence for the abundance, composition and diversity of sediment meiofauna, and evaluated the existence and composition of nodule crevice meiofauna in the Global Sea Mineral Resources (GSR) exploration contract area. Nodule-free and nodule-rich sediments displayed high biodiversity with many singletons and doubletons, potentially representing rare taxa. Nodule presence negatively influenced sediment meiofaunal abundances but did not markedly affect taxonomic composition or diversity. This is the first report on CCFZ nodule crevice meiofauna, whose abundance related positively to nodule dimensions. Though dominated by the same taxa, nodules and sediments differed regarding the taxonomic and trophic composition of the meio- and nematofauna. Nevertheless, there were no taxa endemic to the nodule crevices and nodule crevice meiofauna added only little to total small-scale (~ cm) meiofaunal abundance and diversity. We formulated environmental management recommendations at the contract area and regional (CCFZ) scale related to sampling effort, set-aside preservation and monitoring areas, and potential rehabilitation measures.

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