Macrofaunal nematodes of the deep Whittard Canyon (NE Atlantic): assemblage characteristics and comparison with polychaetes

Gunton, Laetitia M.; Bett, Brian J. ORCID:; Gooday, Andrew J. ORCID:; Glover, Adrian G.; Vanreusel, Ann. 2017 Macrofaunal nematodes of the deep Whittard Canyon (NE Atlantic): assemblage characteristics and comparison with polychaetes. Marine Ecology, 38 (2). e12408.

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Large nematodes form an important component of deep-sea macrofaunal assemblages, but are often considered to be part of the meiobenthos and are rarely studied. We analysed the standing stocks, diversity, and functional group and genus-level composition of macrofaunal nematodes at lower bathyal depths (3,500 m water depth) in the Whittard Canyon system (NE Atlantic) and on the adjacent continental slope. Five replicate sample sets were obtained using a Megacorer, at four locations (three canyon branches, one slope). Sediment samples were processed on a 500-?m mesh to provide both nematode and polychaete data from the same samples. The dominant nematode genera included Paramesacanthion, Metacylicolaimus, Cylicolaimus and Phanodermopsis. Nematode standing stocks (density and biomass) increased significantly from slope to canyon locations. Similarly, nematode dominance increased substantially (and diversity decreased) from slope to canyon locations. Nematode feeding groups and tail shape groups also appeared to exhibit common trends across study locations. Nematode genus-level faunal composition varied significantly between slope and canyon locations. We describe and discuss the broadly similar trends detected in the matching polychaete data, noting some differences in the polychaete density and diversity responses. We suggest that the similar trends in macrofaunal nematode and polychaete ecology across our four study locations reflect responses to both changing sedimentology and food availability.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 01739565
Additional Keywords: deep sea; macrobenthos; nematodes; polychaetes; submarine canyon; Whittard Canyon
Date made live: 19 Dec 2016 15:26 +0 (UTC)

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