Response of deep-sea deposit-feeders to detrital inputs: A comparison of two abyssal time-series sites

Durden, Jennifer M.; Bett, Brian J. ORCID:; Huffard, Christine L.; Pebody, Corinne; Ruhl, Henry A.; Smith, Kenneth L.. 2020 Response of deep-sea deposit-feeders to detrital inputs: A comparison of two abyssal time-series sites. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 173, 104677.

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Biological communities on the abyssal plain are largely dependent on detritus from the surface ocean as their main source of energy. Seasonal fluctuations in the deposition of that detritus cause temporal variations in the quantity and quality of food available to these communities, altering their structure and the activity of the taxa present. However, direct observations of energy acquisition in relation to detritus availability across megafaunal taxa in abyssal communities are few. We used time-lapse photography and coincident measurement of organic matter flux from water column sediment traps to examine the impact of seasonal detrital inputs on resource acquisition by the deposit feeding megafauna assemblages at two sites: Station M (Northeast Pacific, 4000 m water depth) and the Porcupine Abyssal Plain Sustained Observatory (PAP-SO, Northeast Atlantic 4850 m water depth). At Station M, studied over 18-months, the seasonal particle flux was followed by a salp deposition event. At that site, diversity in types of deposit feeding was related to seabed cover by detritus. At PAP-SO, studied over 30 months, the seasonal particle flux consisted of two peaks annually. While the two study sites were similar in mean flux (~8.0 mgC m−2 d−1), the seasonality in the flux was greater at PAP-SO. The mean overall tracking at PAP-SO was five times that of Station M (1.9 and 0.4 cm2 h−1, respectively); both are likely underestimated because tracking by some common taxa at both sites could not be quantified. At both sites, responses of deposit-feeding megafauna to the input of detritus were not consistent across the taxa studied. The numerically-dominant megafauna (e.g. echinoids, large holothurians and asteroids) did not alter their deposit feeding in relation to the seasonality in detrital supply. Taxa for which deposit feeding occurrence or rate were correlated to seasonality in particle flux were relatively uncommon (e.g. enteropneusta), known to cache food (e.g. echiurans), or to be highly selective for fresh detritus (e.g. the holothurian Oneirophanta mutabilis). Thus, the degree of seasonality in deposit feeding appeared to be taxon-specific and related to natural history characteristics such as feeding and foraging modes.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 09670645
Date made live: 02 Dec 2019 15:36 +0 (UTC)

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