Carbonate compensation depth drives abyssal biogeography in the northeast Pacific

Simon-Lledó, Erik ORCID:; Amon, Diva J.; Bribiesca‐Contreras, Guadalupe; Cuvelier, Daphne; Durden, Jennifer M. ORCID:; Ramalho, Sofia P.; Uhlenkott, Katja; Arbizu, Pedro Martinez; Benoist, Noëlie ORCID:; Copley, Jonathan; Dahlgren, Thomas G.; Glover, Adrian G.; Fleming, Bethany; Horton, Tammy ORCID:; Ju, Se-Jong; Mejía-Saenz, Alejandra; McQuaid, Kirsty; Pape, Ellen; Park, Chailinn; Smith, Craig R.; Jones, Daniel O. B. ORCID: 2023 Carbonate compensation depth drives abyssal biogeography in the northeast Pacific. Nature Ecology & Evolution.

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Abyssal seafloor communities cover more than 60% of Earth’s surface. Despite their great size, abyssal plains extend across modest environmental gradients compared to other marine ecosystems. However, little is known about the patterns and processes regulating biodiversity or potentially delimiting biogeographical boundaries at regional scales in the abyss. Improved macroecological understanding of remote abyssal environments is urgent as threats of widespread anthropogenic disturbance grow in the deep ocean. Here, we use a new, basin-scale dataset to show the existence of clear regional zonation in abyssal communities across the 5,000 km span of the Clarion–Clipperton Zone (northeast Pacific), an area targeted for deep-sea mining. We found two pronounced biogeographic provinces, deep and shallow-abyssal, separated by a transition zone between 4,300 and 4,800 m depth. Surprisingly, species richness was maintained across this boundary by phylum-level taxonomic replacements. These regional transitions are probably related to calcium carbonate saturation boundaries as taxa dependent on calcium carbonate structures, such as shelled molluscs, appear restricted to the shallower province. Our results suggest geochemical and climatic forcing on distributions of abyssal populations over large spatial scales and provide a potential paradigm for deep-sea macroecology, opening a new basis for regional-scale biodiversity research and conservation strategies in Earth’s largest biome.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2397-334X
Date made live: 17 Aug 2023 20:39 +0 (UTC)

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