Source: The Scientist
Author: Catharine Offord
Researchers have discovered high levels of biodiversity in deep-sea plains in the Eastern Pacific Ocean—an area that’s already been divvied up by mining companies for commercial exploration. The study, published today (October 17) in Current Biology, describes several new taxa of brittle stars, relatives of sea stars, and warns that industrial exploitation of the region could lead to serious declines in these and many other poorly documented species.
Such biological surveys are “of huge importance,” says Thomas Dahlgren, a marine scientist at the University of Gothenburg who wasn’t involved in the study. The sort of deep-sea plains the team studied cover about 45 percent of the Earth’s surface, he says, but “we know almost nothing about who lives there.”
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