Ferromanganese nodule fauna in the Tropical North Pacific Ocean: species richness, faunal cover and spatial distribution

Veillette, J.; Sarrazin, J.; Gooday, A.J.; Galeron, J.; Caprais, J-C.; Vangreisheim, A.; Etoubleau, J.; Christian, J.R.; Juniper, S.K.. 2007 Ferromanganese nodule fauna in the Tropical North Pacific Ocean: species richness, faunal cover and spatial distribution. Deep-Sea Research I, 54 (11). 1912-1935.

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The poorly known ferromanganese nodule fauna is a widespread hard substratum community in the deep sea that will be considerably impacted by large-scale nodule mining operations. The objective of this study was to analyze the spatial distribution of the fauna attached to nodules in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone at two scales; a regional scale that includes the east (14°N, 130°W) and the west (9°N, 150°W) zones and a local scale in which different geological facies (A, B, C and west) are recognizable. The fauna associated with 235 nodules was quantitatively described: 104 nodules from the east zone (15 of facies A, 50 of facies B and 39 of facies C) and 131 nodules from the west zone. Percent cover was used to quantify the extent of colonization at the time of sampling, for 42 species out of the 62 live species observed. Fauna covered up to 18% of exposed nodule surface with an average of about 3%. While species richness increased with exposed nodule surface, both at the regional and at the facies scales (except for facies A), total species density decreased (again except for facies A). When all nodules were included in the statistical analysis, there was no relation between faunal cover and exposed nodule surface. Nevertheless, faunal cover did decrease with exposed nodule surface for the east zone in general and for both facies B and C in particular. Species distributions among facies were significantly different but explained only a very small portion of the variance (5%). We identified two groups of associated species: a first group of two species and a second group of six species. The other species (34) were independently distributed, suggesting that species interactions play only a minor role in the spatial distribution of nodule fauna. The flux of particulate organic carbon to the bottom is the only major environmental factor considered to vary between the two zones within this study. We conclude that the higher species richness and higher percent faunal cover of the east zone can be partially attributed to greater food availability derived from surface inputs. Moreover, the surfaces of facies B and C nodules had a complex, knobby micro-relief, creating microhabitat heterogeneity that may also have contributed to the greater species richness observed in the east zone.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0967-0637
Additional Keywords: Ferromanganese nodules; Fixed fauna; Agglutinated foraminifera; Geographical distribution; Environmental factors; Environmental impacts
Date made live: 27 Nov 2007 +0 (UTC)

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