2008 Update

Vent Ecology
2008 Working Group Update

Stéphane Hourdez and Chuck Fisher, Working Group Co-Chairs

The Vent Ecology WG was officially created in 2008. It comprises members from 11 different countries and is chaired by Stéphane Hourdez (France) and Charles Fisher (USA). As proposed when the WG formed, C. Fisher will rotate off as co-chair at the end of 2008, but will stay on as a WG member. We will select a new co-chair from the current WG members.

Recent and upcoming meetings
- The International Conference of Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry (Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, 19 - 25 July 2008) had a special session organized by C. Fisher on Life in Extreme Environments of the Deep-Sea. The session included presentations by 6 IR biologists from Austria, France, and the USA.
- A ChEss workshop, “Phylogeny and taxonomy of vesicomyid and mytilid bivalves," was held in Roscoff, France, 5 - 10 September 2008. The workshop was co-organized by S. Hourdez and Heiko Sahling and attended by numerous IR biologists.
- A similar ChEss workshop was held in Hawaii from 28 - 31 October 2008: "Siboglinidae: a model system for the understanding of evolution, adaptive radiation, microbial symbioses and ecology at extreme environments." The organizers were Adrian Glover, Ana Hilario & Thomas Dahlgren.
- Two back-to-back CAREX (Life in Extreme Environments) workshops will be held in San Feliu de Guixols, Spain, from 29 Nov. - 5 Dec. 2008. Stéphane Hourdez will participate in both workshops (“Priorities for environment-specific technological developments and infrastructures” and " Identification of model ecosystems in extreme environments").
- The ASLO Meeting (25-30 January 2009, Nice, France) will have a topical session on "Life in extreme environments: deep-sea chemosynthetic ecosystems" organized by François Lallier (France) and C. Fisher (USA).
- The 4th International Symposium on Chemosynthesis-Based Ecosystems –Hydrothermal Vents, Seeps and Other Reducing Habitats will be held June 29 - July 3, 2009, in Okinawa, Japan. Drs. Yoshihiro Fujiwara and Yoshiko Takeoka are the organizers of this meeting and can be contacted at 4th_CBE_office@jamstec.go.jp. The early registration deadline is 31 January 2009. The Vent Ecology WG will meet during this meeting, and IR has agreed to provide some support both for the WG and for the CBE meeting. We will request additional support from national programs for travel to Japan for IR researchers to attend the meeting.

Mineral mining policy and activity
One of the goals of IR is to encourage the protection and management of the oceanic ridge environment. Chuck Fisher has been invited and will provide input to Nautilus Minerals during the Nautilus Minerals Environmental Review on November 17, 2008, in Memphis, Tennessee, regarding best practices in mining at back-arc basins. Chuck will also give a presentation, titled “Physiological ecology and biodiversity of animal life around hydrothermal vents and hydrocarbon seeps,” to the Underwater Mining Institute meeting on “Marine Minerals: Technological Solutions and Environmental Challenges” in Oxford, Mississippi, on November 19, 2008. An upcoming ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) symposium on issues confronting the deep oceans will be held in the Azores from 26 - 30 April 2009 (http://www.ices.dk/iceswork/symposia/2007.3.ACE06.pdf). This symposium and a preceding event on 2 April 2009 sponsored by WHOI, InterRidge, and ChEss (“Deep-Sea Mining of Seafloor Massive Sulfides: A Reality for Science and Society in the 21st Century”), will be attended by some members of the Vent Ecology WG.

Online resources
Our WG aims at encouraging cutting edge collaborations among researchers in the field. For this, IR will assist in setting up two online resources for the WG and other interested vent ecologists.
- The first, which will be available through our WG webpage on the IR website, will provide information on completed, on-going, and planned projects that use high throughput molecular approaches to better characterize the physiological and ecological potential and realized activities of vent biota (such as genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics). These approaches are costly, and to best utilize our international community’s resources, analyses should probably not be duplicated but rather planned to complement one another.
- The second resource will provide a venue for vent ecologists to provide information on the availability of biological samples from previous or planned cruises, and as well as for others to place requests for valuable samples. This will be coordinated with the CoML ChEss (and OBIS) efforts, which at this time do not yet include frozen samples. The WG will continue to work closely with ChEss and the CoML with respect to integration of biological studies across the world and compiling searchable inventories of samples.