Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Submarine canyons a source of marine invertebrate diversity, abundance

28.08.2013
Submarine canyons play an important role in maintaining high levels of biodiversity of small invertebrates in the seafloor sediments of the main and northwestern Hawaiian Islands, according to research from the University of Hawai‘i at Mânoa.

What’s more, scientists have used this data to draw new connections between the levels of faunal diversity and the heterogeneity of submarine canyon landscapes at various spatial scales.


Researchers sampled diversity in Hawaii's submarine canyons, including these off Kaneohe Bay.

“Submarine canyons encompass myriad habitat types,” said Fabio C. De Leo, a doctoral graduate from UH Mânoa’s department of oceanography and the lead author on a new paper that was recently published in the scientific journal Deep Sea Research Part II. “This heterogeneity at the landscape-scale helps to enhance local biodiversity in canyon seafloor sediments.”

De Leo and colleagues, including oceanography professor Craig Smith, the study’s principal investigator (PI), conducted 34 submersible dives into six underwater canyons and their nearby slopes. Plumbing depths of up to 1,500 meters (~5,000 feet), their study area ranged across the Hawaiian archipelago, from the main Hawaiian Islands through Papahânaumokuâkea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

The scientists evaluated and mapped landscape metrics of each canyon habitat, including the roughness of the seafloor and the steepness of canyon walls. At depths of 350, 650, and 1,000 meters in each location, they collected sediment core samples on the canyon floor. From these samples, they carefully sorted out and identified all of the marine organisms called macrobenthos—including worms, clams and shrimp-like crutaceans— that range in size from a millimeter to several centimeters. The scientists then correlated the macrobenthos species data with the landscape metrics.

The scientists found that submarine canyons can serve as species oases in the sea by channeling ocean currents, capturing and trapping sinking particles, funneling migrating animals, and generally providing a varied physical landscape. As a result, canyons promote high species diversity.

Researchers say this is the first study of its kind to thoroughly examine submarine canyons on island margins. The research effort had previously yielded reports of high species diversity of fish and large invertebrates, the so-called megafauna, in Hawai‘i’s submarine canyons. This corroboration led them to conclude: “Canyons may be particularly important in the Hawaiian islands, in part because they supply organic matter to the typically food-limited deep sea,” De Leo said. “When there’s more food, there’s more life.”

One thing that became evident from this study was that canyons near the main Hawaiian islands tended to collect and hold much more land-based organic matter than canyons in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Materials such as branches, leaves, nuts and algae were abundant off Moloka‘i and O‘ahu, washed into the ocean by rain and carried out deep onto the canyon floors by ocean currents. These decomposing materials, scarcer in the islands of Nihoa and Maro Reef, serve as valuable food sources for the seafloor invertebrates, themselves a food source for other, larger fish.

The scientists have already documented four new species discovered during the course of their research dives, including three new types of crustaceans. Up to 60 percent of the species that taxonomists identified in the submarine canyon seafloor samples are only recognized to the family level.

“There is room for discovery of many more new species,” De Leo said. “The deep sea fauna of Hawai‘i is poorly sampled and poorly understood. Every time we go to sea and sample a new area, it’s likely that we’ll find a new species.”

This series of dives was conducted on the Pisces IV and Pisces V manned submersibles operated by the Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL). The research was conducted in partnership with Hawai‘i Pacific University and the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

Citation: Fabio C. De Leo, E.W. Vetter, C. R. Smith, A. R. Ashley, and M. McGranaghan. Spatial scale-dependent habitat heterogeneity influences submarine canyon macrofaunal abundance and diversity off the Main and Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. 11 July 2013.

Support: This study of submarine canyons off the main and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands was supported by grants from NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (PIs C.R. Smith and E.W. Vetter), HURL, and the Census of Diversity of Abyssal Marine Life (CeDAMar, PI C.R. Smith). F. De Leo was also funded through a 4-year Ph.D. fellowship from the Brazilian Ministry of Education (Capes) in partnership with Fulbright.

For more information, visit: http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/HURL/

Talia S. Ogliore | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://manoa.hawaii.edu/news/article.php?aId=5928
http://www.hawaii.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season
09.11.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht Far fewer lakes below the East Antarctic Ice Sheet than previously believed
08.11.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

Im Focus: Nanorobots propel through the eye

Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.

Researchers of the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Peptides, the “little brothers and sisters” of proteins

12.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Materials scientist creates fabric alternative to batteries for wearable devices

12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

A two-atom quantum duet

12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>