Site details

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              Other Site (estuaries, pelagic, deep-sea)

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Porcupine Abyssal Plain Photo: Time-lapse photography (SOC)

Synoptic description of site:

Middle of NE Atlantic. Remote from continental slope/mid-ocean ridge. Main ecological driver large-scale, decadal/spatial variability in OM supply.

Extensive description of site:

The Porcupine Abyssal Plain is a flat, vast expanse of muddy seabed with occasional, scattered rocky abyssal hills. The area covers an area about half the size of the European landmass. It is the site of the EU deep-sea time series station sampled in EU FP II, III and IV projects.

Habitats present:
SublittoralX X
Seagrass beds 

Description of fauna and flora:

The fauna has been well documented as part of previous large-scale EU projects. Data are available on micro-organisms, meiofauna, macrofauna, invertebrate megafauna and fish. A time series from 1989 to present shows evidence of large-scale regime shifts, probably in relation to inter-annual variability in surface primary production and the downward flux of organic matter from surface waters.

Pristiness: High


No anthropogenic impact. Pristine site with major natural control from input of OM controlled by climate effect on primary productivity. Low physical disturbance

Human impact:

A pristine site. No anthropogenic impact, but one affected by variability in the flux of organic matter from the sea surface and hence to decadal-scale (climate) change in primary production and zooplankton packaging of detrital material. The site is useful as a reference for distinguishing natural and anthropogenic change.


Access by large oceanographic research vessels as part of coordinated European-scale research projects.

Available database and website:

The species inventory is comprehensive and is available from the research organisations that participated in the original EU-sponsored research projects. Parts of the database are being prepared for inclusion in the Ocean Biogeographical Information System (OBIS), part of the international programme, the Census of Marine Life (CoML).

Dataset covering this area:

Commitment and ongoing research:

The Southampton Oceanography Centre is continuing the time series work at the EU time series station until such time that a new large-scale EU-sponsored, collaborative research programme can be re-established.