Meta Analysis of Papers Classifying Deep Sea Life Shows We Know Very Little

A Desmophyllum dianthus solitary coral. Credit: M Taylor, JC136/Deeplinks/NERC

In a review published in the journal Molecular Ecology, scientists from the Department of Zoology at Oxford University examined all knowledge published to date of deep sea invertebrates. Their paper highlights the disparity between our basic knowledge of the ecology of deep sea animals and the growing impact of humans on the deep ocean.

Over the last 30 years there have only been 77 population genetics studies published on invertebrate species, the type of animals that dominate these deep areas. This includes deep ocean coral gardens, snails and urchins. The majority of these papers, which cover just 115 species, have focused on commercial species at the shallower end of the depth range (200-1000 m). Only one study has been conducted on creatures that live deeper than 5000 m—which accounts for a quarter of the planet’s seafloor. Only nine papers account for 50 percent of the planet’s surface (depths below 3500 m).

As a result, life in the depths of the ocean remains a relative mystery.

Read more about the study at Science X.

You can read the full, open source meta analysis study at Wiley Online:

Invertebrate population genetics across Earth’s largest habitat: The deep-sea floor.” By M.L. Taylor & C.N. Roterman

Juvenile of an unknown species of octopus from 1200m depth on George Bligh Bank off the west coast of Scotland. Credit: JC136/Deeplinks/NERC/Univ of Plymouth / Univ of Oxford
Read more at: Science X


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