Articles | Volume 10, issue 5
Biogeosciences, 10, 3039–3054, 2013

Special issue: Deep-sea ecosystems in European seas

Biogeosciences, 10, 3039–3054, 2013

Research article 06 May 2013

Research article | 06 May 2013

Seamount physiography and biology in the north-east Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea

T. Morato1, K. Ø. Kvile1, G. H. Taranto1, F. Tempera1, B. E. Narayanaswamy2, D. Hebbeln3, G. M. Menezes1, C. Wienberg3, R. S. Santos1, and T. J. Pitcher1,4 T. Morato et al.
  • 1Centre of IMAR of the University of the Azores, Departamento de Oceanografia e Pescas and LARSyS Associated Laboratory, Universidade dos Açores, 9901-382 Horta, Portugal
  • 2SAMS, Scottish Association for Marine Science, Scottish Marine Institute, Oban, Argyll, Scotland
  • 3MARUM, Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Leobener Straße, 28359 Bremen, Germany
  • 4Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Abstract. This work aims at characterising the seamount physiography and biology in the OSPAR Convention limits (north-east Atlantic Ocean) and Mediterranean Sea. We first inferred potential abundance, location and morphological characteristics of seamounts, and secondly, summarized the existing biological, geological and oceanographic in situ research, identifying examples of well-studied seamounts. Our study showed that the seamount population in the OSPAR area (north-east Atlantic) and in the Mediterranean Sea is large with around 557 and 101 seamount-like features, respectively. Similarly, seamounts occupy large areas of about 616 000 km2 in the OSPAR region and of about 89 500 km2 in the Mediterranean Sea. The presence of seamounts in the north-east Atlantic has been known since the late 19th century, but overall knowledge regarding seamount ecology and geology is still relatively poor. Only 37 seamounts in the OSPAR area (3.5% of all seamounts in the region), 22 in the Mediterranean Sea (9.2% of all seamounts in the region) and 25 in the north-east Atlantic south of the OSPAR area have in situ information. Seamounts mapped in both areas are in general very heterogeneous, showing diverse geophysical characteristics. These differences will likely affect the biological diversity and production of resident and associated organisms.

Final-revised paper