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How Much Life is on the Seafloor?

The Census of Marine Life was a decade-long multi-national effort, of which NOAA was a partner, to assess and explain life in the ocean. Researchers from over 80 countries collected and shared volumes of data and analyses. Using these assessments, a team of 24 researchers developed a statistical model that predicts benthic (seafloor) biomass from data collected in 175 different studies. Depicted here is a result of their model showing a global map of predicted seafloor biomass. Since life on Earth is carbon-based, the values are shown in terms of the predicted weight of carbon per square meter of the seafloor and includes bacteria, meiofauna (organisms < 0.05 mm found in the sediment), macrofauna (< 1 cm found in the sediment), and megafauna (fish and invertebrates > 1 cm). Because there is such a wide range of biomass, the scale is presented in a logarithmic form, so each number indicates a power of 10. In other words, a log value of 2 would equal 100 mg of carbon per square meter; a log value of 4 would equal 10,000 mg of carbon per square meter. The highest abundances are predicted in coastal upwelling and polar zones due to higher nutrient availability. The lowest predicted biomass levels occur in the central oceanic basins, where food quality and abundance are less and average body size decreases. Areas colored grey are “no data” regions.

How Much Life is on the Seafloor?
Referral:PLoS ONE Article: Global Patterns and Predictions of Seafloor Biomass Using Random Forests
Copyright:National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Keywords:benthic, biomass, Census of Marine Life, ocean, 2011.06.22 logo
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