Autonomous Ecological Surveying of the Abyss (AESA): Understanding Mesoscale Spatial Heterogeneity in the Deep Sea

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Life Sciences


See lead proposal


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Description This project developed and demonstrated the ability of Autosub 6000 to carry out photographic surveys at a high spatial resolution. These developments are described in the Limnology and Oceanography paper.

A further paper witha NERC students at first author described the distribution of fish across the abyssal seafloor. This was the first used of an autonomous vehicle to survey abyssal fish. The paper demonstrated that at the scales observed the fish were effectively randomly distributed and unlike the invertebrates described in other papers from AESA their distribution was not affected by the presence of the abyssal hill. This paper demonstrated the usefulness of this method for the assessment of fish abundance, biodiversity and distribution and opens up a wide range of future project possibilities..
Exploitation Route The methodology makes a wide range of applied and blue skies research posible, including into spatial management of the deep sea. A number of project and proposal ideas are under development, including one on the assessment of abyssal biodiversity in areas under consideration for abyssal mining.
Sectors Aerospace

Defence and Marine




Democracy and Justice

Description A NERC CASE student, Rosanna Miligan participated in the work and got one chapter of her PhD from this project. As well as getting her PhD the statistical methods developed were helpful to her in getting a permanent academic position at NOVA Southeastern Univeristy in the US.
Sector Education
Impact Types Policy & public services