Trawled megafaunal invertebrate assemblages from bathyal depth of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (48°–54°N)

Alt, Claudia H.S.; Rogacheva, Antonina; Boorman, Benjamin; Hughes, A.J.; Billett, David S.M.; Gooday, Andrew J. ORCID:; Jones, Daniel O.B. ORCID: 2013 Trawled megafaunal invertebrate assemblages from bathyal depth of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (48°–54°N). Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 98. 326-340.

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We investigated the effects of contrasting surface primary production on the benthic invertebrate megafauna at four sites on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The sites, designated NW, NE, SW and SE, were located to the west and east of the Ridge axis and to the north and south of the Charlie–Gibbs Fracture Zone. Benthic megafauna were sampled in 2007 and 2009 with a semi-balloon otter trawl, at a target depth of 2,500 m. The total biomass and density of major taxonomic groups did not differ significantly between sites, despite those to the north being characterised by greater surface productivity than those to the south. However, the density and biomass of individual taxonomic groups, as well as diversity and body size, all showed significant differences between sites. Diversity was highest at the SE, and lowest at the NE site. Most species were larger to the north. Community composition was significantly different between all sites, with the greatest number of unique species found at the SE, and noticeably fewer unique species at the northern sites. There was no clear correlation between the surface productivity and community structure, suggesting complex ecological controls on the communities. It is speculated that, in addition to the energy supply, drivers such as strong currents and sediment characteristics, play an important role in shaping the communities at the different sites. To what extent the ridge acts as a dispersal barrier for benthic invertebrate fauna remains unclear. However, high numbers of species unique to the southern site suggest a limited dispersal between the northern and southern areas.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 09670645
Additional Keywords: Benthic megafauna; Diversity; Community composition; Size; ECOMAR; Mid-Atlantic Ridge; Charlie–Gibbs Fracture Zone
Date made live: 08 Jan 2014 11:59 +0 (UTC)

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