Drivers of biomass and biodiversity of non-chemosynthetic benthic fauna of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the North Atlantic

Priede, Imants G.; Muller-Karger, Frank E.; Niedzielski, Tomasz; Gebruk, Andrey V.; Jones, Dan; Colaço, Ana. 2022 Drivers of biomass and biodiversity of non-chemosynthetic benthic fauna of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the North Atlantic. Frontiers in Marine Science, 9.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (32MB) | Preview


We examine the main drivers that may elevate biomass and biodiversity of non-chemosynthetic benthic megafauna of the lower bathyal (800-3500m depth) of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the North Atlantic Ocean (MAR). Specifically: 1. Primary production in surface waters (10°-48°N) from remote sensing data 2002-2020 over the MAR was not significantly different from abyssal regions to the east and west. We reject the hypothesis that presence of a mid ocean ridge may enhance surface primary production. 2. The quantity of particulate organic matter reaching the sea floor was estimated as a proportion of surface export production scaled by bathymetry. Flux was 1.3 to 3.0 times greater on the MAR as a function of shorter vertical transport distance from the surface than on adjacent abyssal regions. 3. Depth variation effect on species richness. Demersal fishes living between 41° and 60°N showed a maximum of species richness at 2000 m depth and linear increase in regional (Gamma) diversity of 32 species per 1,000 m elevation of the MAR above the abyss. Elevated topography provides niches for species that cannot otherwise survive. 4. Substrate heterogeneity. The MAR >95% covered with soft sediment with frequent hard rocky patches spaced at a mean nearest neighbour distance of <500 m. Over 90% were <1 km apart. Animals are readily able to disperse between such patches increasing biodiversity through the additive effect of soft and hard substrate fauna on the MAR. 5. Presence of a biogeographic overlap zone. The MAR harbours bathyal species known from Western Atlantic and Eastern Atlantic continental slopes with meridional asymmetry resulting in bias toward predominance of Eastern species. The mix of species contributes to increased diversity to the east of the MAR. Multiple factors support increase in biomass and biodiversity on the MAR. Biological data are almost entirely absent from 12° to 33°N, the part of the MAR which may be mined for polymetallic sulphide ore deposits. This study enables some predictions of biomass and biodiversity but there is urgent need for intensive biological sampling across the MAR throughout the proposed mining areas south of the Azores.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: NOC Programmes > Ocean BioGeosciences
ISSN: 2296-7745
Date made live: 20 Jul 2022 12:58 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...