Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation

Les représentations de la biodiversité dans les fonds marins : une approche épistémologique et scientifique

Abstract : Exploring the diversity of living being in the deep sea is a recent story. It is only from the nineteenth century, on a virgin land of all knowledge, both geological and biological, that scientists gradually reveal the presence of organisms, usually on the occasion of expedition for economic purposes. For example, the laying of telegraphic cables has unexpectedly discovered organisms, which has initiated the interest of naturalists for the deep sea fauna. Today, the knowledge of the diversity of life in the depths remains partial. Biologists often face the novelty and the unexpected, which gives rise to an original regime for the production of scientific knowledge based on the description, which itself is based on hypotheses that are rarely explained and that are based on a state of incomplete knowledge. On the other hand, it is often economic interests (turned towards mining or fishing) that guide explorations of the diversity of the deep sea towards certain zones. The present doctoral work develops a scientific, historical and epistemological approach of the marine explorations and of the knowledge on biodiversity produces by this program. It is a question of characterizing the transformation of the scientific representations of the fauna and its diversity in the depths and of identifying the factors and the possible methodological biases which determine the acquisition and the structure of this knowledge. This work is based on a large corpus of documents related to the oceanographic cruises program, initiated in 1976 and conducted jointly by the MNHN (National Museum of Natural History) and the IRD (Research Institute for Development), called " Tropical Deep-Sea Benthos "(TDSB), formerly" MUSORSTOM ". This informal program of naturalist exploration has for forty years been targeting the intertropical zone, mainly in the Indo-West Pacific. Much of the work involved structuring and making available the data and knowledge gained during this program in the MNHN databases. In particular, it has helped to develop and complete the MNHN expedition database (, which aims to provide not only a geographical repository to which the other MNHN databases can refer, but also to document the metadata associated with the expeditions (role and specialty of the scientists participating in the cruises, mission reports, photographs of the specimens and substrate). At the same time, a bibliographic repository has been designed that links publications to different campaigns. This structuring of data in a broad sense makes it possible to formulate hypotheses on the way in which the representations of biodiversity and the explanations related to it are constructed. The analysis of this corpus of publications was conducted in two steps. A first descriptive approach made it possible to identify historical and geographical trends as well as hypotheses on the factors that structure the dataset obtained. A second approach aimed to support these hypotheses by finely analyzing the content of publications. Since most of these publications refer to a descriptive taxonomy field, this analysis highlights constants and evolutions in the practices of this disciplinary field. In addition to the analysis of the documents associated with the program, a contextualization work carried out from fifteen interviews of researchers makes it possible to situate the TDSB program in the more general history of deep-sea exploration.
Document type :
Complete list of metadata

Cited literature [326 references]  Display  Hide  Download
Contributor : ABES STAR :  Contact
Submitted on : Wednesday, October 9, 2019 - 10:35:09 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, July 7, 2022 - 3:16:08 AM


Version validated by the jury (STAR)


  • HAL Id : tel-02310156, version 1


Sophie Bary. Les représentations de la biodiversité dans les fonds marins : une approche épistémologique et scientifique. Biodiversité. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018USPCB093⟩. ⟨tel-02310156⟩



Record views


Files downloads