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Biodiversity, biogeography and bioaccumulation in mesopelagic fishes of the North Atlantic: a study for Luso-American co-operation

Reference no: 3.G/A-II- Proj. 242/1997
Acronym: MESOPE
Period: 1997 till 2000
Status: Completed

Institutes (2)  Top 
  • University of the Azores; Department of Oceanography and Fisheries (DOP), more, co-ordinator
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), more, partner

The project involves studies on biodiversity, biogeography and bioaccumulation. On the side of biodiversity we intend: i) To delineate a pattern of biodiversity of mesopelagic fish fauna in the subtropical and temperate North Atlantic; ii) To characterize and compare mesopelagic fish assemblages in different regions within the area; iii) To investigate the evolution of fish assemblages through the 20th century using comparable historical collections, caught in selected regions; iv) To characterize the mesopelagic ichthyodiversity in the distinct sectors of an oceanographic front. Efforts will be done to identify environmental properties that affect the distribution of species. On the side of biogeography we intend: i) To review and assess selected biogeographic theories to be the basis for a sustainable biogeographic model; ii) To evaluate experimentally the role of a meso-scale oceanographic structure (for instance the Azores Front), as a physical boundary for mesopelagic fish. Also attention will be made to the function of eddies in species diffusion; iii) To conceive a multi-dimensional model to illustrate the biogeography of the mesopelagic fish fauna through the area considered. This involve the definition of mesopelagic biogeographic regions by relating oceanographic parameters of large- and meso-scale dynamic fronts, patterns of fish geographical distribution and species assemblages. On the side of bioaccumulation we intend: i) To evaluate systematically the levels of mercury and other heavy metals in selected species of mesopelagic fishes with different life strategies (migratory vs. non-migratory fishes); ii) To assess geographic variations in mercury contamination across the study area using selected species as biomotors; iii) To assess historical trends of mercury contamination in the mesopelagic environment using mesopelagic fish specimens deposited in museums; iv) To assess the seasonal variation of mercury in the mesopelagic realm through selected mesopelagic fish species.

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