MEPS 453:137-149 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09623

Surface-sediment bioturbation quantified with cameras on the NEPTUNE Canada cabled observatory

K. Robert1,*, S. K. Juniper1,2

1Department of Biology, University of Victoria, PO Box 3020, STN CSC, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 3N5, Canada
2School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, PO Box 3065, STN CSC, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 3V6, Canada

ABSTRACT: The mixing of deep-sea sediments by benthic megafauna is an important ecological service that influences biogeochemical processes. Quantifying the contribution of individual species to bioturbation and their responses to environmental variations requires experimental manipulation or direct observation, both of which are logistically challenging in the deep sea. Emerging cabled seafloor observatories now permit real-time data transfer to shore and interactive sampling, providing a new tool for long-term studies of the benthos at high temporal resolutions. We report on the development of a methodological approach to study surficial bioturbation by megafauna in a submarine canyon by using video cameras remotely operated over the internet, through the NEPTUNE Canada observatory. Observation protocols and image analysis techniques were developed to quantify organism size, locomotion and appearance rates for 2 flatfishes (Dover sole Microstomus pacificus and Pacific halibut Hippoglossus stenolepis) and the fragile pink sea urchin Allocentrotus fragilis. Application of a Bayesian model to extrapolate megafaunal locomotion patterns and appearance rates yielded sediment-surface reworking rates on the order of 26.0 to 35.1 cm2 yr−1. Future observations can be directly incorporated into the model to improve accuracy. We propose that this combined observation and Bayesian modeling approach could become a useful component of a long-term program for monitoring ecological processes on the seafloor.


KEY WORDS: Bioturbation · Megafauna · Cabled observatories · Camera systems · Protocol development · Bayesian modeling


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Cite this article as: Robert K, Juniper SK (2012) Surface-sediment bioturbation quantified with cameras on the NEPTUNE Canada cabled observatory. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 453:137-149. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09623

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