New study focuses on dead copepods and other tiny animals in the oceans

23. March 2022

Post-doc Belén Franco-Cisterna, of the Danish Center for Hadal Research (HADAL) and the Department of Biology at the Southern University of Denmark (SDU), is studying how tiny dead animals take part in the transportation and recycling of carbon and nitrogen on our planet. The study indicates that without the carcasses, our planet would not be a nice place for living beings.

Små dyr i det dybe hav
The Ocean @Mikkel Larris

Today, we know that all living organisms in the oceans play a key role in maintaining the ecology of Earth, but there hasn’t really been much interest in all of the tiny dead animals in the sea.

Most scientists have assumed that there aren’t very many dead animals in the sea: either they get eaten alive or the carcasses get eaten or degraded by microorganisms soon after an animal dies.

“But we now know that this is far from the case,” says Belén Franco-Cisterna.

“There is an abundance of small dead animals in the oceans, and all of these carcasses seem to play an important role in the transportation and recycling of carbon and nitrogen on our planet.”

Closer to an understanding of how the oceans will react to climate change

Franco-Cisterna is now trying to unravel the role of all of these dead ocean animals together with colleagues at Nordcee, a research section of the Department of Biology at SDU.

“We need to learn more about these processes to understand zooplankton carcasses’ role in the global carbon and nitrogen cycles. Then we can maybe predict how the oceans will respond to future climate change more comprehensively,” says Franco-Cisterna.

Read more about the study of carcasses in the sea

Find more information about the Center for Hadal Research (HADAL)