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Macrobenthic communities associated with deep wood falls lying in submarine canyons (DeepFall)
Start date: Sep 1, 2014, End date: Aug 29, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Life in the deep-sea ecosystems is generally dependent on the constant rain and fall of particles and matter from the photic zone and the continental shelf. Submarine canyons may trap and concentrate large organic falls (e.g. terrestrial debris and sunken wood) from wide areas. Its accumulation on canyon floor creates “islands” that contribute to deep-sea species diversity and dispersal. Therefore, it is widely accepted that submarine canyons may play a significant role in enhancing shelf-basin exchanges and may be biodiversity hotspots.DeepFall focuses on studying the spatial distribution, temporal succession and population connectivity among species from macrobenthic communities associated to wood falls from various submarine canyons. These communities and the objectives targeted in this proposal are poorly known worldwide, and have never been studied in submarine canyons. Within the DeepFall, diverse studies on the ecology, physiology and population dynamics of these communities will be carried out in seven submarine canyons, three Mediterranean, one Atlantic, and three Pacific.The main objectives are: 1) to investigate canyons’ macrobenthic community succession in sunken wood; 2) to study the biology and physiology of Xylophaga spp. (the primary wood degrader in deep-sea ecosystems); 3) to study population genetics and phylogeography of Xylophaga spp. using nuclear and mitochondrial markers.4) to study population connectivity among canyons. In conclusion DeepFall will predict the potential dispersal and connectivity of species among high priority conservation areas such as submarine canyons. DeepFall will also investigate the matter and energy exchanges between coastal and deep-sea regions, and the potential impacts of episodic climate/oceanographic events on deep-sea. In addition a series of teaching, outreach, dissemination and networking activities will be addressed to complete the fellow skills as independent scientist.
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