Taxonomy of deep-sea species
Taxonomy is the scientific study of naming, describing, and classifying all living things into groups that share similar characteristics. It permits the quantification of the biodiversity on Earth since it allows to compare the same taxon or species in different regions. At present, scientists have named and effectively classified around 1.7 million species, but it is believed that this number can be bigger, expected several million more species that have not found yet or are currently incorrectly classified.
Taxonomists are constantly exploring natural habitats and discovering new species, especially in the deep ocean, where much of its biodiversity is still unknown. It is estimated that 50-80% of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface, however, less than 10% of deep waters have been explored.
During the iMirabilis2 expedition, samples of sediment, organisms and seawater will be taken using different methodologies, in order to characterise the deep-sea ecosystems from Cabo Verde in the Atlantic Ocean. Some of these samples will be preserved on board to maintain the integrity of organisms so they can be analysed later on in the laboratory using microscopes. Other samples will be analysed on the ship, observing and identifying the organisms through their important taxonomic characteristics.
Since good taxonomy is the basis for ecological studies, some specific morphological keys and descriptions for each group of organisms or taxa will be used to carefully identify the specimens until the most specific taxonomic category. This will help us establish a biodiversity baseline for the deep-sea ecosystems from Cabo Verde.