Major consequences of an intense dense shelf water cascading event on deep-sea benthic trophic conditions and meiofaunal biodiversity

Type Article
Date 2013
Language English
Author(s) Pusceddu A.1, Mea M.1, Canals M.2, Heussner S.3, Durrieu De Madron X.3, Sanchez-Vidal A.2, Bianchelli S.1, Corinaldesi C.1, Dell'Anno A.1, Thomsen L.4, Danovaro R.1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Politecn Marche, Dipartimento Sci Vita & Ambiente, I-60131 Ancona, Italy.
2 : Univ Barcelona, GRC Geociencies Marines, Dept Estratig Paleontol & Geociencies Marines, Fac Geol, E-08028 Barcelona, Spain.
3 : Univ Perpignan, CNRS, CEFREM, UMR 5110, F-66860 Perpignan, France.
4 : Jacobs Univ, Sch Engn & Sci SES, D-28759 Bremen, Germany.
Source Biogeosciences (1726-4170) (Copernicus Gesellschaft Mbh), 2013 , Vol. 10 , N. 4 , P. 2659-2670
DOI 10.5194/bg-10-2659-2013
WOS© Times Cited 40
Note Special issues : Deep-sea ecosystems in European seas Editor(s): R. Danovaro, S. Heussner, R. S. Santos, A. Freiwald, A. Boetius, S. van den Hove, J. Middelburg, and P. Weaver
Abstract Numerous submarine canyons around the world are preferential conduits for episodic dense shelf water cascading (DSWC), which quickly modifies physical and chemical ambient conditions while transporting large amounts of material towards the base of slope and basin. Observations conducted during the last 20 yr in the Lacaze-Duthiers and Cap de Creus canyons (Gulf of Lion, NW Mediterranean Sea) report several intense DSWC events. The effects of DSWC on deep-sea ecosystems are almost unknown. To investigate the effects of these episodic events, we analysed changes in the meiofaunal biodiversity inside and outside the canyon. Sediment samples were collected at depths varying from ca. 1000 to > 2100m in May 2004 (before a major event), April 2005 (during a major cascading event) and in October 2005, August 2006, April 2008 and April 2009 (after a major event). We report here that the late winter-early spring 2005 cascading led to a reduction of the organic matter contents in canyon floor sediments down to 1800m depth, whereas surface sediments at about 2200m depth showed an increase. Our findings suggest that the nutritional material removed from the shallower continental shelf, canyon floor and flanks, and also the adjacent open slope was rapidly transported to the deep margin. During the cascading event the meiofaunal abundance and biodiversity in the studied deep-sea sediments were significantly lower than after the event. Benthic assemblages during the cascading were significantly different from those in all other sampling periods in both the canyon and deep margin. After only six months from the cessation of the cascading, benthic assemblages in the impacted sediments were again similar to those observed in other sampling periods, thus illustrating a quick recovery. Since the present climate change is expected to increase the intensity and frequency of these episodic events, we anticipate that they will increasingly affect benthic bathyal ecosystems, which may eventually challenge their resilience.
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Pusceddu A., Mea M., Canals M., Heussner S., Durrieu De Madron X., Sanchez-Vidal A., Bianchelli S., Corinaldesi C., Dell'Anno A., Thomsen L., Danovaro R. (2013). Major consequences of an intense dense shelf water cascading event on deep-sea benthic trophic conditions and meiofaunal biodiversity. Biogeosciences, 10(4), 2659-2670. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :