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Descartes prize


 undescribed ctenoPlanktonic animals drift with the ocean currents and have limited mobility. Light drives photosynthesis and the production of microscopic plants, the food of minute animals living near the surface. However, light penetration and plant production  decreases exponentially with depth, so how is energy conveyed to organisms living in the water column of deeper waters?


1. Map the longitudinal and latitudinal changes in zooplankton biomass and species composition, in relation to water mass distribution, circulation and bathymetry.
2. Investigate, at the scale of meso-habitats, the impact of seafloor topography (e.g., seamounts) on zooplankton vertical and horizontal distribution, abundances and species composition.
3. Determine changes in vertical distribution (including diel vertical migration) in relation to latitude and across the ridge.
4. Identify species composition and distribution of the benthopelagic
and pelagic fauna in the near bottom layer.


The MAR has no influence on the distribution of zooplankton.

  • Sinking of aggregated material
  • Diurnal migration of animals (daily up and down cycles of movement)
  • Strategy

    Broad-scale surveys, with multiple cross-ridge transects between Iceland and the Azores, and meso-scale and repeat surveys focused on the two southern MAR-ECO sub-areas


    • Multiple-opening-closing nets (MOCNESS, Multinet, BIONESS, Norwegian macroplankton trawl with three opening-closing cod-ends (Multisampler), RMT.).
    • Hydroacoustics (multi-frequency systems using hull and vehicle mounted transducers).
    • Optics (vertical and underway plankton profilers, OPC, UVP).
    • Remotely Operated and Autonomous Vehicles (ROV "Aglantha", AUV "Hugin")
    • Manned submersibles MIR1 and 2.
    •  Molecular genetic analysis


    Preparation of field work: 2002-2003, Sampling and observation at sea: 2003-2005, Analysis and dissemination: 2005-2008.


    Principal Investigators: Tone Falkenhaug, Webjørn Melle (Norway)

    Astthor Gislason and Olafur S. Astthorsson (Iceland), Eilif Gaard and Høgni Debes (Faroes), Andrew Brieley and Peter Boyle (UK), Annelies Pierrot-Bults (Netherlands), Alexander Vereshchaka, Georgy Vinogradov, Eteri Musaeva
    (Russia), Fransesc Pagès (Spain), Uwe Piatkowski and Hans Christian John (Germany), Marsh Youngbluth, Peter Wiebe, Ann Bucklin, Kam Tang, Debbie Steinberg (USA), Gabby Gorsky (France), Henrik Søiland, Ulf Båmstedt, John Dalen,
    Tom Sørnes (Norway).

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