Mesophotic ecosystems (MEs) are characterized by the presence of light-dependent organisms, found at depths ranging from ~30 to 150 m in temperate, subtropical and tropical regions. These communities occasionally create massive reef structures with diverse but characteristic morphologies, which serve as the framework builders of those ecosystems. In many localities, MEs are physically linked with shallow and deep-sea habitats, and while taxa from both environments share this space, a unique and endemic biodiversity is also found. The main MEs studied to date are the mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) and the temperate mesophotic ecosystems (TMEs), which have received increased attention during the last decade. As shallow coral reef ecosystems are among the most threatened habitats on Earth, the potential of MEs to act as refugia and contribute to the resilience of the whole ecosystem has been a subject of scrutiny. New technologies and methods have become more available to study these deeper parts of the reef ecosystems, yielding many new discoveries. However, basic gaps in knowledge remain in our scientific understanding of the global diversity of MEs, limiting our ability to recognize biogeographic patterns and to make educated decisions for the management and conservation of these ecosystems.
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- Community dynamics
- Coral reefs
- Deep reefs
- Marine habitats
- Natural history
- Technical diving