Modelling the interactions of the hydrothermal mussel Bathymodiolus azoricus with vent fluid

Type Article
Date 2018-06
Language English
Author(s) Husson Berengere1, Sarrazin JozeeORCID1, Van Oevelen Dick2, Sarradin Pierre-MarieORCID1, Soetaert Karline2, Menesguen Alain3
Affiliation(s) 1 : IFREMER, Ctr Bretagne, REM EEP, CS10070, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
2 : Univ Utrecht, Royal Netherlands Inst Sea Res NIOZ Yerseke, Dept Estuarine & Delta Syst, POB 140, NL-4400 AC Yerseke, Netherlands.
3 : IFREMER, Ctr Bretagne, DYNECO PELAGOS, CS10070, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
Source Ecological Modelling (0304-3800) (Elsevier Science Bv), 2018-06 , Vol. 377 , P. 35-50
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2018.03.007
WOS© Times Cited 3
Keyword(s) Carbon flux model, Bathymodiolus azoricus, Eiffel Tower, Foundation species, Energy partitioning, Environmental conditions, Biomass, Hydrothermal ecosystems

In the 40 years since the discovery of the rich faunal community around hydrothermal vents, many studies have clearly shown that environmental conditions have a strong influence on species distribution in these habitats. Nevertheless, the mechanisms that determine the spatial and temporal dynamics of species’ responses to vent conditions remain elusive. Metabolic studies to assess faunal interactions with vent fluid are particularly difficult to perform in the deep sea and are generally executed in isolation ex situ. Available data mainly concern foundation species, which visually dominate these ecosystems. This work uses a modelling approach to integrate biotic and abiotic data that have been acquired through the years on Eiffel Tower, a large sulphide edifice located on the Lucky Strike vent field on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and particularly on its dominant species, Bathymodiolus azoricus. A carbon-flux model was built using seven state variables: the biomass of mussels and their associated thiotrophic (SOX) and methanotrophic (MOX) symbionts and the ambient concentrations of oxygen, dihydrogen sulphide, methane and (particulate and dissolved) organic carbon. Temperature of the surrounding water and mussel density were the forcing variables in the system. Results showed no statistically significant differences between predicted and observed mussel biomass and estimates of energy partitioning within the mussel were in the range of available data.

Metabolic rates were generally rather low and greatly reduced by a temperature effect in the coldest samples. These low metabolic rates imply a long lifespan for B. azoricus. Simulations suggest that they would strongly hinder re-establishment and resilience of mussel biomass. However, because symbionts respond quickly to changes in vent fluid, mussels would be able to buffer strong variations in the hydrothermal fluid supply. The model showed that if mussels fed indifferently on both types of symbionts, coexistence of MOX and SOX cannot be reached, thereby likely favouring hypotheses of competition for space inside the mussel gills and/or a differential use of the production of each symbiont. Model predictions are highly dependent on current knowledge, and the results presented here highlight the need for more quantitative data on the biology of B. azoricus across different size classes, on its interactions with symbionts, and in varying environmental concentrations in its substrates.

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