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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 664:23-42 (2021)  -  DOI:

Macrofaunal diversity and community structure of the DeSoto Canyon and adjacent slope

Arvind K. Shantharam1,3, Chih-Lin Wei2, Mauricio Silva1, Amy R. Baco1,*

1Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Florida State University, 1011 Academic Way, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA
2Institute of Oceanography, National Taiwan University, Taipei 106, Taiwan
3Present address: Northern Gulf Institute, Mississippi State University, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Northern Gulf of Mexico canyons are centers of organic matter accumulation and biodiversity, but studies of their finer-scale (sub-100 km) ecological patterns are scarce. Detailed sampling of macrofauna within the DeSoto Canyon was undertaken along 3 depth transects on the canyon wall, axis, and adjacent slope. Sediment, terrain, and water mass parameters were also compiled for the same stations. Within the canyon, macrofaunal abundance decreased, evenness increased, and richness followed the expected parabolic curve with depth, peaking at 1100 m. Cluster analysis identified 3 canyon depth groups that conformed to established bathymetric boundaries for the non-canyon Gulf of Mexico slope: Group I at <500 m, Group II at 669-1834 m, and Group III at >2000 m. Explanatory environmental models indicate that canyon community structure was strongly correlated with oxygen concentration and fluorescence, with a weaker potential influence from any of salinity, particulate organic carbon, sediment organic carbon, or slope. Comparisons of the habitats indicated that abundances were highest on the canyon wall. Slope community structure differed from that of either of the canyon habitats. Environmental models consisted of single variables including oxygen concentration, sediment organic carbon, slope, and temperature with similar explanatory values. Community differences within the canyon and between the canyon and adjoining slope contradict previous findings of a single faunal zone for the whole study area. Factors that may contribute to inter-habitat heterogeneity include potential hydrocarbon seepage, organically enriched sediment deposits along channels, or remnant influence from the Deepwater Horizon spill, warranting more research into this dynamic ecosystem.

KEY WORDS: Submarine canyon · Macrofauna · Community structure · Deepwater Horizon

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Cite this article as: Shantharam AK, Wei CL, Silva M, Baco AR (2021) Macrofaunal diversity and community structure of the DeSoto Canyon and adjacent slope. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 664:23-42.

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