Beta-diversity on deep-sea wood falls reflects gradients in energy availability

Craig McClain, James Barry

Abstract

Wood falls on the deep-sea floor represent a significant source of energy into the food-limited deep sea. Unique communities of primarily wood- and sulfide-obligate species form on these wood falls. However, little is known regarding patterns and drivers of variation in the composition of wood fall communities through space and time, and thus, how wood falls contribute to deep-sea biodiversity. Eighteen Acacia logs varying in size were placed and retrieved after five years at a 3200 m site in the Pacific Ocean. We found that the taxonomic composition and structure of deep-sea wood fall communities varied considerably and equated with considerable differences in energy usage and availability. Our findings suggest that natural variability in wood falls may contribute significantly to deep-sea diversity.

  • Received February 8, 2014.
  • Accepted March 20, 2014.
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