The European Union has recently funded an integrated project called Hotspot Ecosystem Research on the Margins of European Seas, or HERMES, which began on 1 April 2005 and will run for four years. HERMES is designed to gain new insights into the biodiversity, structure, function, and dynamics of ecosystems along Europe's deep-ocean margin.
It represents the first major attempt to understand European deepwater ecosystems and their environments in an integrated way, by bringing together expertise in biodiversity, geology, sedimentology physical oceanography, microbiology, and biogeochemistry so that the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning can be understood. The project extends beyond basic research, mapping, and habitat classification into ecosystem modeling and policy advice. The modeling is aimed at improving the ability to forecast the effect on ecosystems of natural and anthropogenic perturbations.