High-Frequency Patterns in the Abundance of Benthic Species near a Cold-Seep – An Internet Operated Vehicle Application

autun.purser [ at ] awi.de


Three benthic megafaunal species (i.e. sablefish Anoplopoma fimbria; pacific hagfish Eptatretus stoutii and a group of juvenile crabs) were tested for diel behavioral patterns at the methane hydrates site of Barkley Canyon (890 m depth), off Vancouver Island (BC, Canada). Fluctuations of animal counts in linear video-transects conducted with the Internet Operated Deep-Sea Crawler ªWallyº in June, July and December of 2013, were used as proxy of population activity rhythms. Count time series and environmental parameters were analyzed under the hypothesis that the environmental conditioning of activity rhythms depends on the life habits of particular species (i.e. movement type and trophic level). Nonlinear least squares modeling of biological time series revealed significant diel periods for sablefish in summer and for hagfish and crabs in December. Combined cross-correlation and redundancy (RDA) analyses showed strong relationships among environmental fluctuations and detected megafauna. In particular, sablefish presence during summer months was related to flow magnitude, while the activity of pacific hagfish and juvenile crabs in December correlated with change in chemical parameters (i.e. chlorophyll and oxygen concentrations, respectively). Waveform analyses of animal counts and environmental variables confirmed the phase delay during the 24 h cycle. The timing of detection of sablefish occurred under low flow velocities, a possible behavioral adaptation to the general hypoxic conditions. The proposed effect of chlorophyll concentrations on hagfish counts highlights the potential role of phytodetritus as an alternative food source for this opportunistic feeder. The juvenile crabs seemed to display a cryptic behavior, possibly to avoid predation, though this was suppressed when oxygen levels were at a minimum. Our results highlight the potential advantages such mobile observation platforms offer in multiparametric deep-sea monitoring in terms of both spatial and temporal resolution and add to the vastly understudied field of diel rhythms of deep-sea megafauna.

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DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0163808

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Bertolucci, C. , Chatzievangelou, D. , Doya, C. , Thomsen, L. , Purser, A. and Aguzzi, J. (2016): High-Frequency Patterns in the Abundance of Benthic Species near a Cold-Seep – An Internet Operated Vehicle Application , PLOS ONE, 11 (10), e0163808 . doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0163808

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