MEPS - Vol. 552 - FEATURE ARTICLE

American plaice (Hippoglossoides platessoides) in a dense field of chemosymbiotic polychaetes at a Svalbard cold seep. Photo: CAGE

Åström EKL, Carroll ML, Ambrose WG Jr, Carroll J

 

Arctic cold seeps in marine methane hydrate environments: impacts on shelf macrobenthic community structure offshore Svalbard

Seafloor methane emissions fuel chemosynthetic primary production and support specialized cold seep ecosystems. These systems typically have high benthic biomass, including both chemosymbiotic taxa and heterotrophic animals. For the first time, Åström and colleagues have investigated cold seep communities in the high Arctic. They compared benthic community structure in cold seep ecosystems and non-seep areas at three locations with extensive methane emissions offshore Svalbard. High faunal biomass and high density of seep-adapted polychaetes (Siboglinidae) were found at these sites of focused methane emissions relative to non-seep sites. Arctic benthic systems at cold seeps exhibit highly heterogeneous seep-associated faunal communities and strong community-level gradients on a local scale.

 

Abstract   Back to contents page   Link to full PDF