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MEPS 399:1-14 (2010)  -  DOI:

Bathymetric zonation of deep-sea macrofauna in relation to export of surface phytoplankton production

Chih-Lin Wei1,*, Gilbert T. Rowe2, G. Fain Hubbard2,†, Amélie H. Scheltema3, George D. F. Wilson4, Iorgu Petrescu5, John M. Foster6, Mary K. Wicksten7, Min Chen8, Roe Davenport7,†, Yousria Soliman2, Yuning Wang9

1Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, USA
2Department of Marine Biology, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Galveston, Texas 77551, USA
3Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA
4Australian Museum, Sydney, New South Wales 2010, Australia
5National Museum of Natural History ‘Grigore Antipa’, Bucharest 011341, Romania
6Department of Coastal Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi, Ocean Springs, Mississippi 39564, USA
7Department of Biology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, USA
8ExxonMobil Biomedical Sciences, Annandale, New Jersey 08801, USA
9Oceanside Biology Lab, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco, California 94132, USA

ABSTRACT: Macrobenthos of the deep, northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM) was sampled with box cores (0.2 m2) along multiple cross-depth transects extending from depths of 200 m to the maximum depth of the basin at 3700 m. Bathymetric (depth) zonation of the macrofaunal community was documented for 6 major taxa (a total of 957 species) on the basis of shared species among geographic locations; 4 major depth zones were identified, with the 2 intermediate-depth zones being divided into east and west subzones. Change of faunal composition with depth reflects an underlying continuum of species replacements without distinct boundaries. The zonal patterns correlated with depth and detrital particulate organic carbon (POC) export flux estimated from remotely-sensed phytoplankton pigment concentrations in the surface water. The Mississippi River and its associated mesoscale eddies, submarine canyon, and deep sediment fan appear to influence the horizontal zonation pattern through export of organic carbon from the ocean surface and the adjacent continental margin. On the local scale, near-bottom currents may shape the zonation pattern by altering sediment grain size, food availability, and larval dispersal. This study suggests a macroecological relationship between depth, export POC flux, and zonation; parsimonious zonal thresholds need to be tested independently for other continental margin ecosystems.

KEY WORDS: Northern Gulf of Mexico · Deep sea · Macrofauna · Zonation · Biogeography · Community structure · POC export flux · Macroecology

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Cite this article as: Wei CL, Rowe GT, Hubbard GF, Scheltema AH and others (2010) Bathymetric zonation of deep-sea macrofauna in relation to export of surface phytoplankton production. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 399:1-14.

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