Aleutian Trench Biodiversity Studies (AleutBio)

German Russian deep-sea biodiversity studies in the Aleutian Trench and the eastern Kuril-Kamtchatka Trench

In the past decade, the biology of the bathyal, abyssal and hadal faunas of all size classes (meio-, macro-, and megabenthos) have been intensively investigated in the Northwest Pacific during a total of four Russian-German and German-Russian expeditions with RV Akademik M.A. Lavrentyev as well as RV Sonne (see project “KuramBio”). These expeditions have provided a wealth of faunistic data and provided new insights into the systematics, evolution and biogeography of benthic organisms from the Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk, the Northwest Pacific abyssal plain and the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench as well.

At its north-eastern end the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench merges into the Aleutian Trench and where they meet, the Kamchatka Strait (191 km wide and 4420 m deep) connects this trench system to the Bering Sea. The aim of our proposed project is to deliver a sound faunistic and biogeographic baseline study from an area where previously only 6 stations have been sampled with RVs Vityaz and Akademik Mstislav Keldysh.

We plan to re-sample three of the previously sampled stations in the north-eastern Kuril-Kamchatka Trench, as well as the Kamchatka Strait and the Aleutian Trench during a cruise with RV Sonne in summer of 2022. This campaign is going to complement our data on the composition and distribution of benthic organisms from previous cruises in adjacent regions. Together with our previous benchmark biodiversity studies, this study in the north-eastern part of the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench and the Aleutian Trench will serve as a foundation for future identifications of biogeographic changes in the Northwest Pacific.