Deep Sea Biodiversity and Conservation

Principal Investigator:
Joana Xavier

Our research focuses on the understanding of basin to global scale diversity, distribution and connectivity patterns of deep-sea vulnerable marine species and ecosystems, and how ecological and evolutionary processes, as well as anthropogenic pressures underpin such patterns. We combine various disciplines (taxonomy, systematics, biogeography, and ecology) and integrate various methods from morphological analyses using advanced microscopy to genomics, transcriptomics, and statistical modelling.

Our focal areas comprise the deep temperate and (sub-)tropical Atlantic, although some studies have a global scope. We currently focus on sponges (phylum Porifera) and the habitats they form (sponge grounds) and specialize in groups that are prevalent in the deeper areas of the oceans, such as hexactinellids, lithistids and cladorhizids.

We are also committed to advance the science-policy-society interface and transfer generated knowledge and developed tools to support the implementation of major agreements and instruments (e.g. EU MSFD, CBD EBSA, UN SDGs, BBNJ process, ISA regulations) established to ensure sustainable management and conservation of marine biodiversity, from national through to global levels.

Publications Highlights

Howell KL, Hilário A, Allcock AL, …, Xavier JR (2020) A Decade to Study Deep-Sea Life. Nature Ecology and Evolution.  

Howell KL, Hilario A, Allcock AL, …, Xavier JR (2020) A blueprint for an inclusive, global deep-sea Ocean Decade field programme. Frontiers in Marine Science. 

Carvalho F, Cárdenas P, Ríos P, Cristobo J, Rapp HT, Xavier JR (2020) Rock sponges (lithistid Demospongiae) of the Northeast Atlantic seamounts, with the description of ten new species. PeerJ 8:e8703.

Xavier JR, Carreiro-Silva M, Colaco A, Le Bris N, Levin L (2019) Vulnerabilities: invertebrate taxa (VME indicators). In: Levin L, Baker M, Thompson T (Eds.) Deep-ocean climate change impacts on habitat, fish and fisheries. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 638. Rome, FAO. 186 pp.

Otero M, Serena F, Gerovasileiou V, Barone M, Bo M, Arcos JM, Vulcano A, Xavier JR (2019) Identification guide of vulnerable species incidentally caught in Mediterranean fisheries. IUCN, Malaga, Spain, 204 pages.

Xavier JR, Tojeira I, Van Soest RWM (2015) On a hexactinellid sponge aggregation at the Great Meteor seamount (North-east Atlantic). JMBA of the UK 95(7), 1389-1394.