MEPS prepress abstract  -  DOI:

Nutritional sources of meio- and macrofauna at hydrothermal vents and adjacent areas: natural-abundance radiocarbon and stable isotope analyses

Hidetaka Nomaki*, Yuki Uejima, Nanako O. Ogawa, Masako Yamane, Hiromi K. Watanabe, Reina Senokuchi, Joan M. Bernhard, Tomo Kitahashi, Yosuke Miyairi, Yusuke Yokoyama, Naohiko Ohkouchi, Motohiro Shimanaga


ABSTRACT: Deep-sea hydrothermal vents host unique marine ecosystems that rely on organic matter produced by chemoautotrophic microbes together with phytodetritus. Although meiofauna can be abundant at such vents, the small size of meiofauna limits studies on nutritional sources. Here, we investigated dietary sources of meio- and macrofauna at hydrothermal vent fields in the western North Pacific using stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios (δ13C, δ15N) and natural-abundance radiocarbon (Δ14C). Bacterial mats and Paralvinella (polychaete) collected from hydrothermal vent chimneys were enriched in 13C (up to –10‰) and depleted in 14C (–700 to –580‰). The δ13C and Δ14C values of dirivultid copepods, endemic to hydrothermal vent chimneys, were –11‰ and –661‰, respectively, and were similar to the bacterial mat and Paralvinella but distinct from those of nearby non-vent sediments (δ13C: ~-24‰) and water-column plankton (Δ14C: ~40‰). In contrast, δ13C values of nematodes from vent chimneys were similar to those of non-vent sites (ca. –25‰). Results suggest that dirivultids relied on vent chimney bacterial mats as their nutritional source, whereas vent nematodes did not obtain significant nutrient amounts from the chemolithoautotrophic microbes. The Δ14C values of Neoverruca (vent barnacle) suggest they gain nutrition from chemoautotrophic microbes, but the source of inorganic carbon was diluted with bottom water much more than those of the Paralvinella habitat, reflecting Neoverruca’s more distant distribution from active venting. The combination of stable and radioisotope analyses on hydrothermal vent organisms provides valuable information on their nutritional sources and, hence, their adaptive ecology to chemosynthesis-based ecosystems.