COMARGE and ChEss
In the last decade, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM) has been exploring the deep sea of the south western sector of the Gulf of Mexico, including the continental slope (1,630-1,860 m) and the abyssal plain (3,720-3,830 m), onboard the UNAM’s R/V Justo Sierra (SIGSBEE Cruises, 1997-2005). This abyssal plain reaches the largest depth found in the Gulf of Mexico (3,900 m). Surveys have been focused on the analysis of community structure in terms of taxonomic composition, abundance and biomass. UNAM also hosted recently (January 2007) an international workshop on biogeographic classification systems in open ocean and deep seabed areas beyond national jurisdiction which counted with the participation of Mexico, USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Poland, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, France and Portugal.
The discussions of this workshop were aimed to develop and apply such classification systems at both national and regional levels that might assist in ongoing development, particularly in areas beyond jurisdiction. Specific points in discussion were the key concepts and methods of biogeographic classification systems, how to elaborate the basic principles for identification, selection and application of these systems, which are the methods to describe and delineate distinct areas and how to draw maps showing potential boundaries for biogeographic realms, provinces or ecological regions.
UNAM, COMARGE and ChEss have established an action plan to link both research initiatives. Their specific activities include:
- to link the database from Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico or Intra-Americas Seas, which is available either from cruises, from the scientific literature or technical reports
- to participate in small and large scale workshops
- to discuss future cruises in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, and (4) to contribute to taxonomic workshops and expand to CeDAMar (Abyssal Ecosystems) and other programs such as the above mentioned workshop on Biogeographic Classification Systems.