Bivalve populations on the Tonga-Kermadec Arc: distribution and potential ecological role

Bivalves (clams and mussels) form a dominant faunal component at hydrothermal vents around the world. On hydrothermally active seamounts on the Tonga-Kermadec Arc, bivalve populations can be extensive, providing a significant food source to higher predators, such as seastars or fish, as well as habitat for other macrofauna. I sampled bivalves on the Central Cone and at Fish Spa on Volcano 19 (clams), at Mussel Ridge on Hine Hina (mussels) and at Middle Crater, Sulfur Site and Barracuda on Volcano 1 (mussels). Using video, I measured the spatial expanse of these populations at each site and described the associated fauna. I also collected physical samples to describe the size frequency distribution of both live and dead individuals and determine rates of recruitment and size specific mortality.

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