New research from Queen’s University Belfast has led to the addition of 184 deep-sea species to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, primarily due to the effects of deep-sea mining.
New research from Queen’s University Belfast has led to the addition of 184 deep-sea species to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, primarily due to the effects deep sea mining.
IUCN is one of the world’s leading conservation authorities and its seven “red list” categories indicate which species are endangered or on the verge of extinction.
By examining the species of molluscs that live in hydrothermal vents, the team of researchers from the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and the United States found 184 species “endemic to the chimney”, while establishing that 62% of species are listed as “threatened”: 39 are “critically endangered”, 32 are listed as “endangered” and 43 are “vulnerable”. “In contrast, the 25 species that are fully protected from deep-sea mining by local conservation measures are classified as Least Concern, and another 45 species are listed as Near Threatened, with some subpopulations facing severe concern. mining threats while others lie in protected areas, ”according to the study.
The results were published in an article titled “A Global Red List for Hydrothermal Vent Molluscs” in Frontiers in marine sciences.
Hydrothermal vents can be found on the seabed, where they tend to be found near volcanically active places. They reject geothermally heated water and act as unique deep marine ecosystems with a density of life equal to that of tropical rainforests.
The remoteness of these particular ecosystems means that they are little studied. However, with the need for further exploration comes growing industry interest in deep water, including deep sea metal mining.
“We focused on assessing the species found in hydrothermal vents, as these areas are increasingly targeted for their natural resources, and we wanted to better understand the threat this poses to the rich marine life there. find. As one of the dominant species groups in ventilation habitats and as a result of the Scaly Footed Snail endangered in 2019, we focused our study on molluscs, ”recalled Elin. Thomas, senior researcher and doctoral student at Queen’s University, Belfast.
She added: “Almost two-thirds of mollusks are listed as threatened, which illustrates the urgent need to protect these species from extinction. Molluscs in the Indian Ocean are the most threatened with extinction, with 100% of species listed in threatened categories and 60% critically endangered. This coincides with the distribution of mining contracts awarded by the International Seabed Authority, highlighting the risk that mining poses to evacuate species and clearly demonstrating why we need this data. In fact, we have found that seabed management and mining regulations consistently have the greatest impact on a species’ risk of extinction, so we urgently need to put regulations in place. This research should be used to develop new policies to protect these species before it is too late. ”
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Photograph courtesy of NOAA.