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Thornhill, DJ, Struck TH, Ebbe B, Lee RW, Mendoza GF, Levin LA, Halanych KM.  2012.  Adaptive radiation in extremophilic Dorvilleidae (Annelida): diversification of a single colonizer or multiple independent lineages? Ecology and Evolution. 2:1958-1970.   10.1002/ece3.314   AbstractWebsite

Metazoan inhabitants of extreme environments typically evolved from forms found in less extreme habitats. Understanding the prevalence with which animals move into and ultimately thrive in extreme environments is critical to elucidating how complex life adapts to extreme conditions. Methane seep sediments along the Oregon and California margins have low oxygen and very high hydrogen sulfide levels, rendering them inhospitable to many life forms. Nonetheless, several closely related lineages of dorvilleid annelids, including members of Ophryotrocha, Parougia, and Exallopus, thrive at these sites in association with bacterial mats and vesicomyid clam beds. These organisms are ideal for examining adaptive radiations in extreme environments. Did dorvilleid annelids invade these extreme environments once and then diversify? Alternatively, did multiple independent lineages adapt to seep conditions? To address these questions, we examined the evolutionary history of methane-seep dorvilleids using 16S and Cyt b genes in an ecological context. Our results indicate that dorvilleids invaded these extreme habitats at least four times, implying preadaptation to life at seeps. Additionally, we recovered considerably more dorvilleid diversity than is currently recognized. A total of 3 major clades (designated "Ophryotrocha,""Mixed Genera" and "Parougia") and 12 terminal lineages or species were encountered. Two of these lineages represented a known species, Parougia oregonensis, whereas the remaining 10 lineages were newly discovered species. Certain lineages exhibited affinity to geography, habitat, sediment depth, and/or diet, suggesting that dorvilleids at methane seeps radiated via specialization and resource partitioning.

Basak, C, Rathburn AE, Perez ME, Martin JB, Kluesner JW, Levin LA, De Deckker P, Gieskes JM, Abriani M.  2009.  Carbon and oxygen isotope geochemistry of live (stained) benthic foraminifera from the Aleutian Margin and the Southern Australian Margin. Marine Micropaleontology. 70:89-101.   10.1016/j.marmicro.2008.11.002   AbstractWebsite

Comparisons of ambient bottom-water geochemistry and stable isotopic values of the tests of living (stained) calcareous benthic foraminifera from the North Pacific (on the Aleutian Margin, water depth 1988 m) and Murray Canyons group in the Southern Indian Ocean (Australian Margin, water depths 2476 m and 1634 m) provide modem environmental analogs to calibrate paleoenvironmental assessments. Consistent with the hypothesis that microhabitat preferences influence foraminiferal isotopic values, benthic foraminifera from both margins were depleted in (13)C with respect to bottom-water dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). The carbon isotope values of deep infaunal foraminifera (Chilostomella oolina, Globobulimina pacifica) showed greater differences from estimates of those of DIC than shallow benthic foraminifera (Bulimina mexicana, Bolivinita quadrilatera, Pullenia bulloides). This study provides new isotopic and ecological information for B. quadrilatera. The mean Delta delta(13)C value, defined as foraminiferal delta(13)C values minus estimated ambient delta(13)C values from the Aleutian Margin, is 0.97 parts per thousand higher for G. pacifica than the mean from the Murray Canyon. This difference may result either from genetic or biological differences between the populations or from differences in environmental isotopic influences (such as pore water differences) that were not accounted for in the equilibrium calculations. These analyses provide calibration information for the evaluation of bottom water conditions and circulation patterns of ancient oceans based on fossil foraminiferal geochemistry. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Davis, JLD, Levin LA.  2002.  Importance of pre-recruitment life-history stages to population dynamics of the woolly sculpin Clinocottus analis. Marine Ecology-Progress Series. 234:229-246.   10.3354/meps234229   AbstractWebsite

The relative influence of pre- versus post-recruitment life-history events on population size has been the subject of much recent debate. In the marine realm, much work has focused on intertidal invertebrates and on tropical reef fishes, with mixed results. We addressed this problem for a temperate intertidal fish, Clinocottus analis. Our main goal was to determine which life-history stage was most responsible for temporal changes in population size from 1996 to 2000 at 2 sites in San Diego, California, both seasonally and during the 1997 to 1998 El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event. We approached the problem using cohort analysis and matrix population modeling. Recruitment pulses were evident in population size structure for up to a year, unobscured by post-recruitment mortality, which was not density-dependent, Recruitment was not correlated to spawning adult biomass of 3 mo earlier, suggesting that egg, larval, or early post-settlement processes during those 3 mo determined the magnitude of recruitment, and ultimately, population size. Stage-structured population projection matrices were constructed to compare population growth rates and sensitivities among seasons and between climate periods (El Nino and non-El Nino), Elasticity (prospective) and decomposition (retrospective) analyses of these matrices indicated that the vital rates to which population growth rate (lambda) was theoretically most sensitive were not necessarily those responsible for observed temporal differences in lambda. Although, was most sensitive to juvenile growth and adult survivorship, fertility (which in this model included fecundity and egg, larval, and early post-settlement survivorship), in addition to juvenile growth, drove observed seasonal differences in lambda C. andlis population size decreased during the 1997 to 1998 El Nino event due to a decrease in recruitment, a decrease in batch fecundity (hydrated eggs per female) and, at 1 site, changes in juvenile survivorship, Results of the study emphasize the power of early life-history events to structure C. analis populations on both seasonal and longer timescales.

Levin, L, Blair N, DeMaster D, Plaia G, Fornes W, Martin C, Thomas C.  1997.  Rapid subduction of organic matter by maldanid polychaetes on the North Carolina slope. Journal of Marine Research. 55:595-611.   10.1357/0022240973224337   AbstractWebsite

In situ tracer experiments conducted on the North Carolina continental slope reveal that tube-building worms (Polychaeta: Maldanidae) can, without ingestion, rapidly subduct freshly deposited, algal carbon (C-13-labeled diatoms) and inorganic materials (slope sediment and glass beads) to depths of 10 cm or more in the sediment column. Transport over 1.5 days appears to be nonselective but spatially patchy, creating localized, deep hotspots. As a result of this transport, relatively fresh organic matter becomes available soon after deposition to deep-dwelling microbes and other infauna, and both aerobic and anaerobic processes may be enhanced. Comparison of tracer subduction with estimates from a diffusive mixing model using Th-234-based coefficients, suggests that maldanid subduction activities, within 1.5 d of particle deposition, could account for 25-100% of the mixing below 5 cm that occurs on 100-day time scales. Comparisons of community data from the North Carolina slope for different places and times indicate a correlation between the abundance of deep-dwelling maldanids and the abundance and the dwelling depth in the sediment column of other infauna. Pulsed inputs of organic matter occur frequently in margin environments and maldanid polychaetes are a common component of continental slope macrobenthos. Thus, the activities we observe are likely to be widespread and significant for chemical cycling (natural and anthropogenic materials) on the slope. We propose that species like maldanids, that rapidly redistribute labile organic matter within the seabed, probably function as keystone resource modifiers. They may exert a disproportionately strong influence (relative to their abundance) on the structure of infaunal communities and on the timing, location and nature of organic matter diagenesis and burial in continental margin sediments.

Levin, LA, McCann LD, Thomas CL.  1991.  The ecology of polychaetes on deep seamounts in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Ophelia. :467-476. AbstractWebsite

Polychaetes were collected by the submersible ALVIN on 18 deep (788-3,353 m) seamounts in the eastern Pacific Ocean at 10-degrees, 13-degrees, 20-degrees and 30-degrees N off western Mexico. Polychaetes comprised 57.7% of all macrofauna collected. Average density over all locations was 942 polychaetes/m2. Thirty-eight families were represented among the 1,422 infaunal polychaetes collected. Five families, the Paraonidae, Cirratulidae, Syllidae, Ampharetidae, and Sabellidae, attained average densities > 1 individual/196 cm2 core. We evaluated effects of latitude, local setting, depth, and substrate on polychaete abundance, taxonomic composition, and lifestyles. Unusually high polychaete densities (7,194/m2) and low diversities were observed in a shallow caldera (788 m) at 13-degrees N. Excluding this site, the latitude exhibiting the highest polychaete densities (xBAR = 939/m2) was 10-degrees N. Of the seven settings examined, pit craters (within seamount calderas) supported the highest densities (xBAR = 1031/m2), and hydrothermal oxide fields and seamount bases exhibited the lowest polychaete densities (xBAR = 576-612/m2). Rippled foraminiferal sands on volcano summits supported large numbers of filter feeders, particularly sabellids. Regressions of total polychaete abundance on depth and on percent sand were not significant. Large, epifaunal, sediment-agglutinating protozoans (Phylum Sarcodina: Class Xenophyophorea) provided habitat for 34 polychaete species. Polychaete abundance and family composition were generally similar to those reported for other nearshore, deep-sea environments at comparable depths. With the exception of the shallowest site, species richness was typically high.