Spatial distribution and structure of a mammal-bone mussel population in the deep Atlantic Ocean

Surprising abundances and a remarkable diversity of invertebrates has been observed over the past years at organically enriched habitats in the deep sea. The importance of wood and bone fall communities became increasingly appreciated among chemosynthesis-based ecosystems because they share a number of taxa with cold seep and hydrothermal vent fauna. These taxonomic affinities raised the hypothesis that organic falls act as stepping-stones in the evolution and distribution of chemoautotrophic assemblages. Yet, colonization and population dynamics of discrete resource patches, varying in time and space, is far from being understood. The number of competent larvae reaching a site, the probability of successful settlement, and mortality occurring over successive life history stages determine population demographics and affect connectivity at different temporal and spatial scales. Technological and financial difficulties to acquire long-term data in the deep sea have hampered the study of population parameters in these habitats, and life-history strategies are only known for a relatively small number of taxa. Among macro-invertebrates, mytilid bivalves are one of the best-known deep-sea groups, but studies were mainly focused on their reproductive cycle. Mussels are conspicuous and often dominant members of chemosynthethic communities, including more than 20 species described in vent, seep, wood and whale fall habitats, and a similar number of identified molecular lineages waiting formal description. High numbers of small mussels were recovered from a depth of 1000 m on degraded bones belonging to mammal carcasses deployed in the Setubal canyon, NE Atlantic, for a period of 18 months. Molecular data suggests that this mussel species belongs to the genus Idas and is conspecific with the population found in the Marmara Sea cold seeps. This work aims to describe the size-distribution of mussels and study the population structure and recruitment pattern of this species in a bone habitat in deep Atlantic waters. In addition, we investigate the relationship of individual bivalve shell dimensions with the position on the surface of different bone areas. The results of this work provide important insights into life-history traits and colonization of ephemeral sulfide-rich habitats.

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First Name: 
Luciana
Last Name: 
Génio
Telephone: 
+351 234 370 969
Affiliation: 
Departamento de Biologia and CESAM, Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal
First Name: 
Hélio
Last Name: 
Almeida
Affiliation: 
Departamento de Biologia and CESAM, Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal
First Name: 
Clara F.
Last Name: 
Rodrigues
Affiliation: 
Departamento de Biologia and CESAM, Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal
First Name: 
Ana
Last Name: 
Hilário
Affiliation: 
Departamento de Biologia and CESAM, Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal
Choose keywords that are most applicable to your abstract. (Three maximum.): 
Biogeography
Distribution and abundance
Early life history (reproduction, dispersal, settlement, recruitment)
Abstract ID: 
CBE5-169