Knowledge on quantitative faunal distribution patterns of hydrothermal communities in slow-spreading vent fields is particularly scarce, despite the importance of these ridges in the global mid-ocean system. This study assessed the composition, abundance and diversity of 12 benthic faunal assemblages from various locations on the Eiffel Tower edifice (Lucky Strike vent field, Mid-Atlantic Ridge) and investigated the role of key environmental conditions (temperature, total dissolved iron (TdFe), sulfide (TdS), copper (TdCu) and pH) on the distribution of macro- and meiofaunal species at small spatial scales (< 1 m). There were differences in macro- and meiofaunal community structure between the different sampling locations, separating the hydrothermal community of the Eiffel Tower edifice into three types of microhabitats: (1) cold microhabitats characterized by low temperatures (1.1 µmol l−1 respectively); and (3) a third microhabitat characterized by intermediate abiotic conditions. Environmental conditions showed more variation in the warm microhabitats than in the cold microhabitats. In terms of fauna, the warm microhabitats had lower macro- and meiofaunal densities, and lower richness and Shannon diversity than the cold microhabitats. Six macrofaunal species (Branchipolynoe seepensis, Amathys lutzi, Bathymodiolus azoricus, Lepetodrilus fucensis, Protolira valvatoides and Chorocaris chacei) and three meiofaunal taxa (Paracanthonchus, Cephalochaetosoma and Microlaimus) were identified as being significant indicator species/taxa of particular microhabitats. Our results also highlight very specific niche separation for copepod juveniles among the different hydrothermal microhabitats. Some sampling units showed unique faunal composition and increased beta diversity on the Eiffel Tower edifice. Contrary to what was expected, the highest beta diversity was not associated with a particular microhabitat type, but rather with location on the central part of the edifice where other structuring factors may predominate.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||16|
|Journal||Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography|
|State||Published - Apr 26 2015|
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