Deep-sea fish distribution varies between seamounts: results from a seamount complex off New Zealand.
ABSTRACT: Fish species data from a complex of seamounts off New Zealand termed the "Graveyard Seamount Complex' were analysed to investigate whether fish species composition varied between seamounts. Five seamount features were included in the study, with summit depths ranging from 748-891 m and elevation from 189-352 m. Measures of fish species dominance, rarity, richness, diversity, and similarity were examined. A number of factors were explored to explain variation in species composition, including latitude, water temperature, summit depth, depth at base, elevation, area, slope, and fishing effort. Depth at base and slope relationships were significant with shallow seamounts having high total species richness, and seamounts with a more gradual slope had high mean species richness. Species similarity was modelled and showed that the explanatory variables were driven primarily by summit depth, as well as by the intensity of fishing effort and elevation. The study showed that fish assemblages on seamounts can vary over very small spatial scales, in the order of several km. However, patterns of species similarity and abundance were inconsistent across the seamounts examined, and these results add to a growing literature suggesting that faunal communities on seamounts may be populated from a broad regional species pool, yet show considerable variation on individual seamounts.
Project description:Despite a strong increase in research on seamounts and oceanic islands ecology and biogeography, many basic aspects of their biodiversity are still unknown. In the southwestern Atlantic, the Vitória-Trindade Seamount Chain (VTC) extends ca. 1,200 km offshore the Brazilian continental shelf, from the Vitória seamount to the oceanic islands of Trindade and Martin Vaz. For a long time, most of the biological information available regarded its islands. Our study presents and analyzes an extensive database on the VTC fish biodiversity, built on data compiled from literature and recent scientific expeditions that assessed both shallow to mesophotic environments. A total of 273 species were recorded, 211 of which occur on seamounts and 173 at the islands. New records for seamounts or islands include 191 reef fish species and 64 depth range extensions. The structure of fish assemblages was similar between islands and seamounts, not differing in species geographic distribution, trophic composition, or spawning strategies. Main differences were related to endemism, higher at the islands, and to the number of endangered species, higher at the seamounts. Since unregulated fishing activities are common in the region, and mining activities are expected to drastically increase in the near future (carbonates on seamount summits and metals on slopes), this unique biodiversity needs urgent attention and management.
Project description:We present the first remotely operated vehicle investigation of megabenthic communities (1004-1695?m water depth) on the Hebrides Terrace Seamount (Northeast Atlantic). Conductivity-temperature-depth casts showed rapid light attenuation below the summit and an oceanographic regime on the flanks consistent with an internal tide, and high short-term variability in water temperature, salinity, light attenuation, aragonite and oxygen down to 1500?m deep. Minor changes in species composition (3-14%) were explained by changes in depth, substratum and oceanographic stability, whereas environmental variability explained substantially more variation in species richness (40-56%). Two peaks in species richness occurred, the first at 1300-1400?m where cooler Wyville Thomson Overflow Water (WTOW) mixes with subtropical gyre waters and the second at 1500-1600?m where WTOW mixes with subpolar mode waters. Our results suggest that internal tides, substrate heterogeneity and oceanographic interfaces may enhance biological diversity on this and adjacent seamounts in the Rockall Trough.
Project description:Seamounts are proposed to be hotspots of deep-sea biodiversity, a pattern potentially arising from increased productivity in a heterogeneous landscape leading to either high species co-existence or species turnover (beta diversity). However, studies on individual seamounts remain rare, hindering our understanding of the underlying causes of local changes in beta diversity. Here, we investigated processes behind beta diversity using ROV video, coupled with oceanographic and quantitative terrain parameters, over a depth gradient in Annan Seamount, Equatorial Atlantic. By applying recently developed beta diversity analyses, we identified ecologically unique sites and distinguished between two beta diversity processes: species replacement and changes in species richness. The total beta diversity was high with an index of 0.92 out of 1 and was dominated by species replacement (68%). Species replacement was affected by depth-related variables, including temperature and water mass in addition to the aspect and local elevation of the seabed. In contrast, changes in species richness component were affected only by the water mass. Water mass, along with substrate also affected differences in species abundance. This study identified, for the first time on seamount megabenthos, the different beta diversity components and drivers, which can contribute towards understanding and protecting regional deep-sea biodiversity.
Project description:Species rich benthic communities have been reported from some seamounts, predominantly from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but the fauna and habitats on Indian Ocean seamounts are still poorly known. This study focuses on two seamounts, a submarine volcano (cratered seamount--CSM) and a non-volcano (SM2) in the Andaman Back-arc Basin (ABB), and the basin itself. The main purpose was to explore and generate regional biodiversity data from summit and flank (upper slope) of the Andaman seamounts for comparison with other seamounts worldwide. We also investigated how substratum types affect the megafaunal community structure along the ABB. Underwater video recordings from TeleVision guided Gripper (TVG) lowerings were used to describe the benthic community structure along the ABB and both seamounts. We found 13 varieties of substratum in the study area. The CSM has hard substratum, such as boulders and cobbles, whereas the SM2 was dominated by cobbles and fine sediment. The highest abundance of megabenthic communities was recorded on the flank of the CSM. Species richness and diversity were higher at the flank of the CSM than other are of ABB. Non-metric multi-dimensional scaling (nMDS) analysis of substratum types showed 50% similarity between the flanks of both seamounts, because both sites have a component of cobbles mixed with fine sediments in their substratum. Further, nMDS of faunal abundance revealed two groups, each restricted to one of the seamounts, suggesting faunal distinctness between them. The sessile fauna corals and poriferans showed a significant positive relation with cobbles and fine sediments substratum, while the mobile categories echinoderms and arthropods showed a significant positive relation with fine sediments only.
Project description:Although the expectation of lack of resilience of seamount vulnerable marine ecosystems has become a paradigm in seamount ecology and a tenet of fisheries management, recovery has not been tested on time scales >10 years. The Northwestern Hawaiian Ridge and Emperor Seamounts have experienced the highest documented fish and invertebrate seamount fisheries takes in the world. Surveys show that, despite visible evidence of substantial historic fishing pressure, a subset of these seamounts that have been protected for >30 years showed multiple signs of recovery including corals regrowing from fragments and higher abundances of benthic megafauna than Still Trawled sites. Contrary to expectations, these results show that, with long-term protection, some recovery of seamount deep-sea coral communities may be possible on 30- to 40-year time scales. The current practice of allowing continued bottom-contact fishing at heavy trawled sites may cause damage to remnant populations, which likely play a critical role in recovery.
Project description:Seamounts have generally been identified as locations that can promote elevated productivity, biomass and predator biodiversity. These properties attract seamount-associated fisheries where elevated harvests can be obtained relative to surrounding areas. There exists large variation in the geological and oceanographic environment among the thousands of locations that fall within the broad definition of seamount. Global seamount surveys have revealed that not all seamounts are hotspots of biodiversity, and there remains a strong need to understand the mechanisms that underlie variation in species richness observed. We examined the process of fish species assembly at El Bajo Espiritu Santo (EBES) seamount in the Gulf of California over a five-year study period. To effectively quantify the relative abundance of fast-moving and schooling fishes in a 'blue water' habitat, we developed a simplified underwater visual census (UVC) methodology and analysis framework suitable for this setting and applicable to future studies in similar environments. We found correlations between seasonally changing community structure and variability in oceanographic conditions. Individual species responses to thermal habitat at EBES revealed three distinct assemblages, a 'fall assemblage' tracking warmer overall temperature, a 'spring assemblage' correlated with cooler temperature, and a 'year-round assemblage' with no significant response to temperature. Species richness was greatest in spring, when cool and warm water masses stratified the water column and a greater number of species from all three assemblages co-occurred. We discuss our findings in the context of potential mechanisms that could account for predator biodiversity at shallow seamounts.
Project description:The identification of biodiversity hotspots and their management for conservation have been hypothesized as effective ways to protect many species. There has been a significant effort to identify and map these areas at a global scale, but the coarse resolution of most datasets masks the small-scale patterns associated with coastal habitats or seamounts. Here we used tuna longline observer data to investigate the role of seamounts in aggregating large pelagic biodiversity and to identify which pelagic species are associated with seamounts. Our analysis indicates that seamounts are hotspots of pelagic biodiversity. Higher species richness was detected in association with seamounts than with coastal or oceanic areas. Seamounts were found to have higher species diversity within 30-40 km of the summit, whereas for sets close to coastal habitat the diversity was lower and fairly constant with distance. Higher probability of capture and higher number of fish caught were detected for some shark, billfish, tuna, and other by-catch species. The study supports hypotheses that seamounts may be areas of special interest for management for marine pelagic predators.
Project description:Seamounts are considered to be "hotspots" of marine life but, their role in oceans primary productivity is still under discussion. We have studied the microbial community structure and biomass of the epipelagic zone (0-150 m) at two northeast Atlantic seamounts (Seine and Sedlo) and compared those with the surrounding ocean. Results from two cruises to Sedlo and three to Seine are presented. Main results show large temporal and spatial microbial community variability on both seamounts. Both Seine and Sedlo heterotrophic community (abundance and biomass) dominate during winter and summer months, representing 75% (Sedlo, July) to 86% (Seine, November) of the total plankton biomass. In Seine, during springtime the contribution to total plankton biomass is similar (47% autotrophic and 53% heterotrophic). Both seamounts present an autotrophic community structure dominated by small cells (nano and picophytoplankton). It is also during spring that a relatively important contribution (26%) of large cells to total autotrophic biomass is found. In some cases, a "seamount effect" is observed on Seine and Sedlo microbial community structure and biomass. In Seine this is only observed during spring through enhancement of large autotrophic cells at the summit and seamount stations. In Sedlo, and despite the observed low biomasses, some clear peaks of picoplankton at the summit or at stations within the seamount area are also observed during summer. Our results suggest that the dominance of heterotrophs is presumably related to the trapping effect of organic matter by seamounts. Nevertheless, the complex circulation around both seamounts with the presence of different sources of mesoscale variability (e.g. presence of meddies, intrusion of African upwelling water) may have contributed to the different patterns of distribution, abundances and also changes observed in the microbial community.
Project description:The continental margin off the northeastern United States (NEUS) contains numerous, topographically complex features that increase habitat heterogeneity across the region. However, the majority of these rugged features have never been surveyed, particularly using direct observations. During summer 2013, 31 Remotely-Operated Vehicle (ROV) dives were conducted from 494 to 3271 m depth across a variety of seafloor features to document communities and to infer geological processes that produced such features. The ROV surveyed six broad-scale habitat features, consisting of shelf-breaching canyons, slope-sourced canyons, inter-canyon areas, open-slope/landslide-scar areas, hydrocarbon seeps, and Mytilus Seamount. Four previously unknown chemosynthetic communities dominated by Bathymodiolus mussels were documented. Seafloor methane hydrate was observed at two seep sites. Multivariate analyses indicated that depth and broad-scale habitat significantly influenced megafaunal coral (58 taxa), demersal fish (69 taxa), and decapod crustacean (34 taxa) assemblages. Species richness of fishes and crustaceans significantly declined with depth, while there was no relationship between coral richness and depth. Turnover in assemblage structure occurred on the middle to lower slope at the approximate boundaries of water masses found previously in the region. Coral species richness was also an important variable explaining variation in fish and crustacean assemblages. Coral diversity may serve as an indicator of habitat suitability and variation in available niche diversity for these taxonomic groups. Our surveys added 24 putative coral species and three fishes to the known regional fauna, including the black coral Telopathes magna, the octocoral Metallogorgia melanotrichos and the fishes Gaidropsarus argentatus, Guttigadus latifrons, and Lepidion guentheri. Marine litter was observed on 81% of the dives, with at least 12 coral colonies entangled in debris. While initial exploration revealed the NEUS region to be both geologically dynamic and biologically diverse, further research into the abiotic conditions and the biotic interactions that influence species abundance and distribution is needed.
Project description:Recent studies have countered the paradigm of seamount isolation, confounding conservation efforts at a critical time. Efforts to study deep-sea corals, one of the dominant taxa on seamounts, to understand seamount connectivity, are hampered by a lack of taxonomic keys. A prerequisite for connectivity is species overlap. Attempts to better understand species overlap using DNA barcoding methods suggest coral species are widely distributed on seamounts and nearby features. However, no baseline has been established for variation in these genetic markers relative to morphological species designations for deep-sea octocoral families. Here we assess levels of genetic variation in potential octocoral mitochondrial barcode markers relative to thoroughly examined morphological species in the genus Narella. The combination of six markers used here, approximately 3350 bp of the mitochondrial genome, resolved 83% of the morphological species. Our results show that two of the markers, ND2 and NCR1, are not sufficient to resolve genera within Primnoidae, let alone species. Re-evaluation of previous studies of seamount octocorals based on these results suggest that those studies were looking at distributions at a level higher than species, possibly even genus or subfamily. Results for Narella show that using more markers provides haplotypes with relatively narrow depth ranges on the seamounts studied. Given the lack of 100% resolution of species with such a large portion of the mitochondrial genome, we argue that previous genetic studies have not resolved the degree of species overlap on seamounts and that we may not have the power to even test the hypothesis of seamount isolation using mitochondrial markers, let alone refute it. Thus a precautionary approach is advocated in seamount conservation and management, and the potential for depth structuring should be considered.