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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 468:135-148 (2012)  -  DOI:

Community study of tubeworm-associated epizooic meiobenthos from deep-sea cold seeps and hot vents

Renate Degen1,2,*, Laura Riavitz1, Sabine Gollner1,3, Ann Vanreusel4, Christoph Plum5, Monika Bright1

1University of Vienna, Department of Marine Biology, 1090 Vienna, Austria
2Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
3Deutsches Zentrum für Marine Biodiversitätsforschung, Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, 26382 Wilhelmshaven, Germany
4University of Ghent, Marine Biology Research Group, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
5University of Oldenburg, Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment, 26382 Wilhelmshaven, Germany

ABSTRACT: The permanent metazoan meiofauna associated with vestimentiferan tubeworm aggregations from hydrocarbon seeps of the upper Louisiana slope in the Green Canyon (~550 m) and the lower slope in Atwater Valley (~2200 m) of the Gulf of Mexico was characterized. Meiofauna abundance, diversity, and community composition at genus level were compared between these seep sites, and with those of tubeworms from hydrothermal vents of the East Pacific Rise (Gollner et al. 2007; Mar Ecol Prog Ser 337:39–49). The abundance was not significantly different between the 2 seep sites, and was also similar to those found at vents. A total of 150 meiobenthic genera were identified from the cold seep sites. While no significant difference in univariate measurements of diversity was detected, a shift in community composition between the shallow and the deep seep site was found. The hot vent communities included a total of only 17 genera and the diversity measurements were significantly lower at vents than at seeps. Also, Bray-Curtis dissimilarity was 97% between the meiobenthic communities from seeps and vents. The genera richness was negatively correlated with maximum temperature and maximum sulfide concentration, and positively correlated with minimum pH value. We conclude that the harsh conditions tubeworms experience at vents compared to the moderate conditions at cold seeps, as well as the longevity of cold seeps surrounded by sedimented deep-sea plains but short-lived vents on basaltic mid-ocean ridges, might explain the contrasting diversity patterns.

KEY WORDS: Meiobenthos · Meiofauna · Cold seep · Hydrothermal vent · Community study · Biodiversity · Vestimentiferans · Gulf of Mexico

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Cite this article as: Degen R, Riavitz L, Gollner S, Vanreusel A, Plum C, Bright M (2012) Community study of tubeworm-associated epizooic meiobenthos from deep-sea cold seeps and hot vents. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 468:135-148.

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