Population structure and environmental niches of Rimicaris shrimps from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Among the endemic and specialized fauna from hydrothermal vents, Rimicaris shrimps constitute one of the most important and emblematic components of these ecosystems. On the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 2 species belonging to this genus co-occur: R. exoculata and R. chacei that differ in their morphology, trophic regime and abundance. R. exoculata forms large and dense aggregations on active vent chimney walls in close proximity to vent fluid emissions, whereas R. chacei is much less conspicuous, living mostly in scattered groups or solitary further away from the fluids. However, the recent revision of Rimicaris juvenile stages from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge shows that R. chacei abundance would be higher than expected at these early life stages. Here, we describe and compare the population structure of R. exoculata and R. chacei at the Snake Pit and Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse (TAG) vent fields. We show distinct population demographics between the 2 co-occurring shrimp species with a large post-settlement collapse in R. chacei populations suggesting high juvenile mortality for this species. We describe important spatial segregation patterns between the 2 species and their different life stages. Additionally, our results highlight distinct niches for the earliest juvenile stages of both R. exoculata and R. chacei, compared with all other life stages. Finally, we discuss the potential factors, including predation and competitive interactions, that could explain the differences we observed in the population structure of these 2 species.


Hydrothermal vents, Life cycle, Population structure, Environmental niches, Juvenile mortality, Rimicaris shrimps

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Methou Pierre, Hernández-Ávila I, Cathalot Cecile, Cambon-Bonavita Marie-Anne, Pradillon Florence (2022). Population structure and environmental niches of Rimicaris shrimps from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 684. 1-20. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13986, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00752/86404/

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