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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Rimicaris exoculata shrimp adults (light grey color) and juveniles (red color) at Snake Pit vent field (Beehive edifice) on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Photo: BICOSE2 (2018)-Nautile@ifremer

Methou P, Hernández-Ávila I, Cathalot C, Cambon-Bonavita MA, Pradillon F

Population structure and environmental niches of Rimicaris shrimps from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Co-existence of ecologically similar and closely related species involves mechanisms regulating their interactions. Rimicaris exoculata and R. chacei are two co-existing shrimp species dominating faunal communities at hydrothermal vents along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – a highly productive chemosynthesis-based but very spatially restricted ecosystem. Examination of population samples collected in different shrimp assemblages showed that juveniles of each species recruit in different habitats and follow drastically different post-settlement trajectories in which R. chacei populations collapse after settlement in comparison with R. exoculata populations. Distinct demographic patterns as well as niche partitioning acting throughout the life cycles of both species contribute to their co-existence. These results fill critical knowledge gaps on the life-history of vent species which depend on habitats increasingly threatened by anthropogenic activities (e.g. deep sea mining).


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