Biodiversity of macrofaunal assemblages from three Portuguese submarine canyons (NE Atlantic)

Cunha, Marina R., Paterson, Gordon L.J., Amaro, Teresa, Blackbird, Sabena, de Stigter, Henko C., Ferreira, Clarisse, Glover, Adrian, Hilário, Ana, Kiriakoulakis, Konstadinos, Neal, Lenka, Ravara, Ascensão, Rodrigues, Clara F., Tiago, Áurea and Billett, David S.M. (2011) Biodiversity of macrofaunal assemblages from three Portuguese submarine canyons (NE Atlantic) Deep-Sea Research II, 58, (23-24), pp. 2433-2447. (doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2011.04.007).


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The macrofaunal assemblages from three Portuguese submarine canyons, Nazaré, Cascais and Setúbal were studied from samples collected at their upper (900–1000 m), middle (3200–3500 m) and lower sections (4200–4500 m) and at the adjacent open slopes (?1000 m), during the HERMES cruises D297 (R.R.S. Discovery, 2005) CD179 (R.R.S. Charles Darwin, 2006) and 64PE252 (R.V. Pelagia, 2006). The taxonomic composition and patterns in biodiversity, abundance and community structure of the benthic macrofauna were described. Annelida (42.1% of total abundance; 137 species) and Arthropoda (20.6%; 162 species) were, respectively, the most abundant and the most species-rich Phyla among the 342 taxa identified during this study. Multivariate analyses showed significant differences between and within canyons and between canyons and open slope assemblages. At their upper section, canyons supported higher macrofauna abundance but slightly lower biodiversity than the adjacent slopes at similar depth. In all canyons abundance reached the highest value in the middle section and the lowest in the upper section, with marked fluctuations in Nazaré (474–4599 ind. m?2) and lower variability in Cascais (583–1125 ind. m?2). The high abundance and dominance of the assemblages in the middle section of Nazaré and Setúbal was accompanied by depressed biodiversity, while in Cascais, Hurlbert's expected species richness showed increasing values from the upper to the middle canyon, and maintained the high values at the lower section. Overall, the Nazaré Canyon showed the lowest expected species richness (ES(100): 16–39) and the Cascais Canyon the highest (39–54). There was a significant negative Kendall's correlation between total organic carbon concentrations in the superficial sediments and ES(100) and a significant positive correlation between total nitrogen and macrofauna density. The influences of organic enrichment, sediment heterogeneity and hydrodynamic regime on the abundance, diversity and community structure of the macrofauna are discussed. It is suggested that altered and localised environmental conditions in the Portuguese canyons play an important role in modifying more common abundance and diversity bathymetric patterns evident in many continental slope environments.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2011.04.007
ISSNs: 0967-0645 (print)
Keywords: Submarine canyons, Biodiversity, Macrofauna, Deep-sea, Environmental conditions
Organisations: Marine Biogeochemistry
ePrint ID: 201441
Date :
Date Event
1 December 2011Published
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2011 14:34
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 01:23
Further Information:Google Scholar

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