Glover, A., Paterson, G., Bett, B., Gage, J., Sibuet, M., Sheader, M. and Hawkins, L.
Patterns in polychaete abundance and diversity from the Madeira Abyssal Plain, northeast Atlantic
Deep-Sea Research I, 48, (1), . (doi:10.1016/S0967-0637(00)00053-4).
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Polychaete abundance and diversity patterns from the Madeira Abyssal Plain (MAP) were studied together with data from three other sites on the northeastern Atlantic abyssal plains. Polychaete abundance at MAP was significantly lower than at any of the other sites, including those lying under comparable productivity regimes. Analysis of diversity, using rarefaction and species counts per unit area, suggests that MAP is extremely species poor and shows dominance by a few common species. The MAP site is characterised by a superficial layer of turbidite sediment, and the hypothesis is put forward that the unusual sediment characteristics at MAP have affected macrofaunal abundance over a vast area (>2000 km2). Analysis of species composition indicates that the MAP site is not faunistically unique; rather it contains a high proportion of widespread, abundant, cosmopolitan species. We suggest that these are the opportunists of the abyssal benthic habitat. Differences in abundance between the other abyssal sites are the result of both productivity and local environmental conditions. Equitability at the other north Atlantic sites is not affected by productivity, although the actual number of species per unit area is affected, showing a south–north gradient.
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