Biophysical and Population Genetic Models Predict the Presence of "Phantom" Stepping Stones Connecting Mid-Atlantic Ridge Vent Ecosystems

Type Article
Date 2016-09
Language English
Author(s) Breusing Corinna1, Biastoch Arne1, Drews AnnikaORCID1, Metaxas Anna2, Jollivet Didier3, Vrijenhoek Robert C.4, Bayer Till1, Melzner Frank1, Sayavedra Lizbeth5, Petersen Jillian M.5, 6, Dubilier NicoleORCID5, Schilhabel Markus B.7, Rosenstiel PhilipORCID7, Reusch Thorsten B. H.1
Affiliation(s) 1 : GEOMAR Helmholtz Ctr Ocean Res, D-24105 Kiel, Germany.
2 : Dalhousie Univ, Dept Oceanog, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada.
3 : Sorbonne Univ, UMR Adaptat & Diversite Milieu Marin 7144, Equipe ABICE, CNRS,UPMC,Stn Biol Roscoff, F-29688 Roscoff, France.
4 : Monterey Bay Aquarium Res Inst, Moss Landing, CA 95039 USA.
5 : Max Planck Inst Marine Microbiol, Symbiosis Dept, D-28359 Bremen, Germany.
6 : Univ Vienna, Dept Microbiol & Ecosyst Sci, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.
7 : Univ Kiel, Inst Clin Mol Biol IKMB, D-24105 Kiel, Germany.
Source Current Biology (0960-9822) (Cell Press), 2016-09 , Vol. 26 , N. 17 , P. 2257-2267
DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2016.06.062
WOS© Times Cited 43

Deep-sea hydrothermal vents are patchily distributed ecosystems inhabited by specialized animal populations that are textbook meta-populations. Many vent-associated species have free-swimming, dispersive larvae that can establish connections between remote populations. However, connectivity patterns among hydrothermal vents are still poorly understood because the deep sea is undersampled, the molecular tools used to date are of limited resolution, and larval dispersal is difficult to measure directly. A better knowledge of connectivity is urgently needed to develop sound environmental management plans for deep-sea mining. Here, we investigated larval dispersal and contemporary connectivity of ecologically important vent mussels (Bathymodiolus spp.) from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge by using high-resolution ocean modeling and population genetic methods. Even when assuming a long pelagic larval duration, our physical model of larval drift suggested that arrival at localities more than 150 km from the source site is unlikely and that dispersal between populations requires intermediate habitats ("phantom" stepping stones). Dispersal patterns showed strong spatiotemporal variability, making predictions of population connectivity challenging. The assumption that mussel populations are only connected via additional stepping stones was supported by contemporary migration rates based on neutral genetic markers. Analyses of population structure confirmed the presence of two southern and two hybridizing northern mussel lineages that exhibited a substantial, though incomplete, genetic differentiation. Our study provides insights into how vent animals can disperse between widely separated vent habitats and shows that recolonization of perturbed vent sites will be subject to chance events, unless connectivity is explicitly considered in the selection of conservation areas.

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Breusing Corinna, Biastoch Arne, Drews Annika, Metaxas Anna, Jollivet Didier, Vrijenhoek Robert C., Bayer Till, Melzner Frank, Sayavedra Lizbeth, Petersen Jillian M., Dubilier Nicole, Schilhabel Markus B., Rosenstiel Philip, Reusch Thorsten B. H. (2016). Biophysical and Population Genetic Models Predict the Presence of "Phantom" Stepping Stones Connecting Mid-Atlantic Ridge Vent Ecosystems. Current Biology, 26(17), 2257-2267. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :