world-first, an international team of scientists, including Professor Jonathan Warnock, has used data collected by
satellites, ocean drilling, and an ocean model to explain and predict
biodiversity on the Antarctic seafloor.
The researchers combined satellite
images of phytoplankton color on the sea surface with a suite of connected
models of how the microscopic phytoplankton, the base of the Antarctic food
web, are swept by ocean currents, sink to the seafloor, and are then
redistributed across it. They used this data to accurately predict the extent of seafloor life
without the need for extensive physical sampling.
Satellite data and flow models were compared to seafloor sediment, which was
analyzed for fossil phytoplankton content. These new models will help to
predict how Antarctic ecosystems respond to global climate change. The models
can also be used to reconstruct ecosystems in the past. Scientists have known
that there was a relationship between primary productivity in the surface water
and the community growing on the bottom. This is the first reliable and
ground-truthed model that can both explain the connections between surface
water and the sea floor while also predicting diversity of life at the seafloor.
The culmination of their interdisciplinary work can be found in their paper titled "Abundance and richness of key Antarctic seafloor fauna correlates with modelled food availability".