Implications of cross-axis flow for larval dispersal along mid-ocean ridges

Type Article
Date 2002
Language English
Author(s) Mullineaux Lauren, Speer Kevin, Thurnherr Andreas, Maltrud Matthew, Vangriesheim Annick
Affiliation(s) Woods Hole Oceanog Inst, Dept Biol, Woods Hole, MA 02543 USA.
Florida State Univ, Dept Oceanog, Tallahassee, FL 32306 USA.
Los Alamos Natl Lab, Los Alamos, NM USA.
IFREMER, Dept Environm Profond, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
Source CBM - Cahiers de Biologie Marine (0007-9723) (Station Biologique de Roscoff), 2002 , Vol. 43 , N. 3-4 , P. 281-284
WOS© Times Cited 24
Keyword(s) Numerical models, Dipersal potential, Larvae, Flow regime, Hydrothermal vent, Deep sea ecosystems
Abstract Introduction : Dispersal processes play an important role in the structure and dynamics of many terrestrial and marine communities, and they are especially critical in deep-sea hydrothermal vent ecosystems. These systems are patchy and transient, and most of the species inhabiting them cannot survive elsewhere, so successful dispersal (usually via a larval stage) is essential for maintaining viable populations and species ranges. To understand the mechanisms of larval dispersal, we need to know larval life spans and the transport dynamics of deep-water flows near vent habitats. When these values are measured for a species in a given region, a maximum dispersal distance can be calculated and compared to the geographic spacing between vent fields in that region. This approach gives a first-order answer to the questions of how far a larva can disperse and whether a species has the potential to migrate between any two given vent sites. However, to understand the effects of dispersal on population dynamics, gene flow and population genetic structure, we need to know the number of migrants among sites. This calculation requires estimates of fecundities and mortality rates that are very difficult to verify for vent species (e.g., Chevaldonne et al., 1997), and are outside the scope of our study. The objective of the present study is to focus on the first-order question of how far larvae of a given lifespan can disperse in the flow environments near vent sites at different mid-ocean ridges. We follow the approach that Marsh et al. (2001) used to calculate dispersal potential of larvae of the vestimentiferan tubeworm Riftia pachyptila Jones, 1981, near 9°N on the East Pacific Rise (EPR). They conducted physiological measurements on larvae cultured at ambient deep-sea pressure to calculate a R. pachyptila lifespan of roughly 38 days, and incorporated a current-meter record (Fig la) into a dispersal model to estimate a maximum larval dispersal distance of 103 km along the ridge in flows in that region. They noted, however, that most R. pachyptila larvae released over a 5-mo period did not travel that far during their 38-day life span. The majority of larvae were instead lost off-axis during the sustained episodes of across-ridge flow, or remained close to their natal site due to periodic reversals in along-ridge flows. One conclusion of Marsh et al. (2001) was that the dispersal of R. pachyptila larvae near 9°N EPR is limited not by the physiological performance of its larvae, but rather by the local flow regime. In our present study, we explore whether that conclusion holds generally across different locations on mid-ocean ridges. We also discuss the limitations of using current meter records (an Eulerian approach) for dispersal studies, and the value of incorporating alternative Lagrangian approaches such as drifter studies and numerical modeling.
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Mullineaux Lauren, Speer Kevin, Thurnherr Andreas, Maltrud Matthew, Vangriesheim Annick (2002). Implications of cross-axis flow for larval dispersal along mid-ocean ridges. CBM - Cahiers de Biologie Marine, 43(3-4), 281-284. Open Access version :