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AK, S, LA L, HT R, C S.  2013.  Faunal trophic structure at hydrothermal vents on the southern Mohn’s Ridge, Arctic Ocean. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 473:115-131.   10.3354/meps10050   AbstractWebsite

We explore the trophic ecology of heterotrophic fauna associated with a high temperature (HT) vent, 2 low temperature vents, a ‘near-HT vent’ habitat and a non-vent site situated at upper bathyal depths on the southern Mohn’s Ridge in the Arctic Ocean. Only a single taxon (the gastropod Pseudosetia griegi) was found at the high temperature vent habitat. Their mean δ13C values were significantly lighter than conspecifics from a low temperature vent habitat within the same vent field, reflecting the incorporation of sulfide oxidizing bacteria into the biomass of the animals. The majority of fauna from the low temperature, near-HT, and non-vent habitats had isotopic signatures indicative of assimilation of photosynthetic material. However, we found remarkably diverse isotopic compositions among the fauna sampled here, with a small sub-set of fauna at each site possessing C and N isotopic signatures indicative of incorporation of chemosynthetic production. Moreover, when isotopic signatures of similar taxa were compared from the same sample, δ13C signatures suggested a high degree of trophic complexity can exist over relatively small spatial scales at vent habitats on the southern Mohn’s Ridge. The high contribution of photosynthetic food material to faunal diets and variability in food types may result from the upper bathyal venting depth and sedimentary nature of the vents. We hypothesize that the upper bathyal depth of active venting may lead to iron enhancement of surface photosynthetic production, especially in high nutrient areas, which ultimately sinks to the seabed where it is incorporated by fauna around the vents.

Andersson, JH, Woulds C, Schwartz M, Cowie GL, Levin LA, Soetaert K, Middelburg JJ.  2008.  Short-term fate of phytodetritus in sediments across the Arabian Sea oxygen minimum zone. Biogeosciences. 5:43-53. AbstractWebsite

The short-term fate of phytodetritus was investigated across the Pakistan margin of the Arabian Sea at water depths ranging from 140 to 1850 m, encompassing the oxygen minimum zone (similar to 100-1100 m). Phytodetritus sedimentation events were simulated by adding similar to 44 mmol (13)C-labelled algal material per m(2) to surface sediments in retrieved cores. Cores were incubated in the dark, at in situ temperature and oxygen concentrations. Overlying waters were sampled periodically, and cores were recovered and sampled (for organisms and sediments) after durations of two and five days. The labelled carbon was subsequently traced into bacterial lipids, foraminiferan and macrofaunal biomass, and dissolved organic and inorganic pools. The majority of the label (20 to 100%) was in most cases left unprocessed in the sediment at the surface. The largest pool of processed carbon was found to be respiration (0 to 25% of added carbon), recovered as dissolved inorganic carbon. Both temperature and oxygen were found to influence the rate of respiration. Macrofaunal influence was most pronounced at the lower part of the oxygen minimum zone where it contributed 11% to the processing of phytodetritus.

Arntz, WE, Gallardo VA, Gutierrez D, Isla E, Levin LA, Mendo J, Neira C, Rowe GT, Tarazona J, Wolff M.  2006.  El Niño and similar perturbation effects on the benthos of the Humboldt, California, and Benguela Current upwelling ecosystems. Advances in Geosciences. 6:243-265.: European Geosciences Union, c/o E.O.S.T. 5, rue Rene Descartes Strasbourg Cedex 67084 France, [mailto:egu.production@copernicus.org], [URL:http://www.copernicus.org/EGU] AbstractWebsite

To a certain degree, Eastern Boundary Current (EBC) ecosystems are similar: Cold bottom water from moderate depths, rich in nutrients, is transported to the euphotic zone by a combination of trade winds, Coriolis force and Ekman transport. The resultant high primary production fuels a rich secondary production in the upper pelagic and nearshore zones, but where O sub(2) exchange is restricted, it creates oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) at shelf and upper slope (Humboldt and Benguela Current) or slope depths (California Current). These hypoxic zones host a specifically adapted, small macro- and meiofauna together with giant sulphur bacteria that use nitrate to oxydise H sub(2)S. In all EBC, small polychaetes, large nematodes and other opportunistic benthic species have adapted to the hypoxic conditions and co-exist with sulphur bacteria, which seem to be particularly dominant off Peru and Chile. However, a massive reduction of macrobenthos occurs in the core of the OMZ. In the Humboldt Current area the OMZ ranges between <100 and about 600 m, with decreasing thickness in a poleward direction. The OMZ merges into better oxygenated zones towards the deep sea, where large cold-water mega- and macrofauna occupy a dominant role as in the nearshore strip. The Benguela Current OMZ has a similar upper limit but remains shallower. It also hosts giant sulphur bacteria but little is known about the benthic fauna. However, sulphur eruptions and intense hypoxia might preclude the coexistence of significant mega- und macrobenthos. Conversely, off North America the upper limit of the OMZ is considerably deeper (e.g., 500-600 m off California and Oregon), and the lower boundary may exceed 1000m. The properties described are valid for very cold and cold (La Nina and "normal") ENSO conditions with effective upwelling of nutrient-rich bottom water. During warm (El Nino) episodes, warm water masses of low oxygen concentration from oceanic and equatorial regions enter the upwelling zones, bringing a variety of (sub)tropical immigrants. The autochthonous benthic fauna emigrates to deeper water or poleward, or suffers mortality. However, some local macrofaunal species experience important population proliferations, presumably due to improved oxygenation (in the southern hemisphere), higher temperature tolerance, reduced competition or the capability to use different food. Both these negative and positive effects of el Nino influence local artisanal fisheries and the livelihood of coastal populations. In the Humboldt Current system the hypoxic seafloor at outer shelf depths receives important flushing from the equatorial zone, causing havoc on the sulphur bacteria mats and immediate recolonisation of the sediments by mega- and macrofauna. Conversely, off California, the intruding equatorial water masses appear to have lower oxygen than ambient waters, and may cause oxygen deficiency at upper slope depths. Effects of this change have not been studied in detail, although shrimp and other taxa appear to alter their distribution on the continental margin. Other properties and reactions of the two Pacific EBC benthic ecosystems to el Nino seem to differ, too, as does the overall impact of major episodes (e.g., 1982/1983(1984) vs. 1997/1998). The relation of the "Benguela Nino" to ENSO seems unclear although many Pacific- Atlantic ocean and atmosphere teleconnections have been described. Warm, low- oxygen equatorial water seems to be transported into the upwelling area by similar mechanisms as in the Pacific, but most major impacts on the eukaryotic biota obviously come from other, independent perturbations such as an extreme eutrophication of the sediments ensuing in sulphidic eruptions and toxic algal blooms. Similarities and differences of the Humboldt and California Current benthic ecosystems are discussed with particular reference to ENSO impacts since 1972/73. Where there are data available, the authors include the Benguela Current ecosystem as another important, non-Pacific EBC, which also suffers from the effects of hypoxia.

Askarizadeh, A, Rippy MA, Fletcher TD, Feldman DL, Peng J, Bowler P, Mehring AS, Winfrey BK, Vrugt JA, AghaKouchak A, Jiang SC, Sanders BF, Levin LA, Taylor S, Grant SB.  2015.  From rain tanks to catchments: Use of low-impact development to address hydrologic symptoms of the urban stream syndrome. Environmental Science & Technology. 49:11264-11280.   10.1021/acs.est.5b01635   AbstractWebsite

Catchment urbanization perturbs the water and sediment budgets of streams, degrades stream health and function, and causes a constellation of flow, water quality, and ecological symptoms collectively known as the urban stream syndrome. Low-impact development (LID) technologies address the hydrologic symptoms of the urban stream syndrome by mimicking natural flow paths and restoring a natural water balance. Over annual time scales, the volumes of stormwater that should be infiltrated and harvested can be estimated from a catchment-scale water-balance given local climate conditions and preurban land cover. For all but the wettest regions of the world, a much larger volume of stormwater runoff should be harvested than infiltrated to maintain stream hydrology in a preurban state. Efforts to prevent or reverse hydrologic symptoms associated with the urban stream syndrome will therefore require: (1) selecting the right mix of LID technologies that provide regionally tailored ratios of stormwater harvesting and infiltration; (2) integrating these LID technologies into next-generation drainage systems; (3) maximizing potential cobenefits including water supply augmentation, flood protection, improved water quality, and urban amenities; and (4) long-term hydrologic monitoring to evaluate the efficacy of LID interventions.

B
Baco, AR, Rowden AA, Levin LA, Smith CR, Bowden DA.  2010.  Initial characterization of cold seep faunal communities on the New Zealand Hikurangi margin. Marine Geology. 272:251-259.   10.1016/j.margeo.2009.06.015   AbstractWebsite

Cold-seep communities have been known from the North Atlantic and North Pacific for more than 20 years, but are only now being explored in the Southern Hemisphere While fisheries bycatch had suggested the presence of cold seeps on the New Zealand margin, the biodiversity and distribution of these communities remained unknown. Explorations using towed cameras and direct sampling gear revealed that cold seep sites are abundant along the New Zealand Hikurangi margin Initial characterization of the faunal communities at 8 of these sites indicates a fauna that is associated with particular sub-habitats but which varies in abundance between sites Community composition is typical, at higher taxonomic levels, of cold seep communities in other regions The dominant. symbiont-bearing taxa include siboglinid (tube) worms, vesicomyid clams and bathymodiolin mussels At the species level, much of the seep-associated fauna identified so far appears either to be new to science, or endemic to New Zealand seeps, suggesting the region may represent a new biogeographic province for cold-seep fauna Some overlap at the species and genus level is also indicated between the sampled seep communities and the fauna of hydrothermal vents on the Kermadec Arc in the region. Further taxonomic and genetic identifications of fauna from this study will allow us to fully test the levels of species overlap with other New Zealand chemosynthetic ecosystems as well as with other cold seep sites worldwide These apparently novel communities exhibit evidence of disturbance from a deep bottom-trawl fishery and appear to be threatened along the entire New Zealand margin. As bottom fisheries, mining, and fossil-fuel exploitation move into deeper waters, seep communities may be endangered worldwide, necessitating the initiation of conservation efforts even as new seep ecosystems are discovered and explored. Our findings highlight the unique nature of anthropogenic impacts in the deep-sea. in which reservoirs of biodiversity can be impacted long before they are even known. (C) 2009 Elsevier B V All rights reserved

Bailey, JV, Salman V, Rouse GW, Schulz-Vogt HN, Levin LA, Orphan VJ.  2011.  Dimorphism in methane seep-dwelling ecotypes of the largest known bacteria. ISME Journal. 5:1926-1935.   10.1038/ismej.2011.66   AbstractWebsite

We present evidence for a dimorphic life cycle in the vacuolate sulfide-oxidizing bacteria that appears to involve the attachment of a spherical Thiomargarita-like cell to the exteriors of invertebrate integuments and other benthic substrates at methane seeps. The attached cell elongates to produce a stalk-like form before budding off spherical daughter cells resembling free-living Thiomargarita that are abundant in surrounding sulfidic seep sediments. The relationship between the attached parent cell and free-living daughter cell is reminiscent of the dimorphic life modes of the prosthecate Alphaproteobacteria, but on a grand scale, with individual elongate cells reaching nearly a millimeter in length. Abundant growth of attached Thiomargarita-like bacteria on the integuments of gastropods and other seep fauna provides not only a novel ecological niche for these giant bacteria, but also for animals that may benefit from epibiont colonization. The ISME Journal (2011) 5, 1926-1935; doi: 10.1038/ismej.2011.66; published online 23 June 2011

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.

Becker, BJ, Levin LA, Fodrie FJ, McMillan PA.  2007.  Complex larval connectivity patterns among marine invertebrate populations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 104:3267-3272.   10.1073/pnas.0611651104   AbstractWebsite

Based on the belief that marine larvae, which can spend days to months in the planktonic stage, could be transported considerable distances by ocean currents, it has long been assumed that populations of coastal species with a planktonic larval stage are demographically open and highly "connected." Such assumptions about the connectivity of coastal populations govern approaches to managing marine resources and shape our fundamental understanding of population dynamics and evolution, yet are rarely tested directly due to the small size and high mortality of marine larvae in a physically complex environment. Here, we document a successful application of elemental fingerprinting as a tracking tool to determine sources of settled invertebrates and show that coastal mussel larvae, previously thought to be highly dispersed, can be retained within 20-30 km of their natal origin. We compare two closely related and co-occurring species, Mytilus californianus and Mytilus galloprovincialis, and determine that, despite expected similarities, they exhibit substantially different connectivity patterns. Our use of an in situ larval culturing technique overcomes the previous challenge of applying microchemical tracking methods to species with completely planktonic development. The exchange of larvae and resulting connectivities among marine populations have fundamental consequences for the evolution and ecology of species and for the management of coastal resources.

Becker, BJ, Fodrie FJ, McMillan PA, Levin LA.  2005.  Spatial and temporal variation in trace elemental fingerprints of mytilid mussel shells: A precursor to invertebrate larval tracking. Limnology and Oceanography. 50:48-61. AbstractWebsite

Elements incorporated into developing hard parts of planktonic larvae record the environmental conditions experienced during growth. These chemical signatures, termed elemental fingerprints, potentially allow for reconstruction of locations of larvae. Here, we have demonstrated for the first time the feasibility of this approach for bivalve shells. We have determined the spatial scale over which we are able to discriminate chemical signatures in mussels in southern California and characterized the temporal stability of these signals. Early settlers of Mytilus californianus and Mytilus galloprovincialis were collected from eight sites in southern California. Shells were analyzed for nine isotopes using laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). We discriminated among mussels collected in two bays and the open coast using Mn, Pb, and Ba shell concentrations. Shell concentrations of Pb and Sr were sufficiently different to discriminate between mussels from the northern and southern regions of the open coast, each representing approximately 20 km of coastline. These signals were relatively stable on monthly and weekly time scales. These results indicate that trace elemental fingerprinting of shell material is a promising technique to track bivalve larvae moving between bays and the open coast or over along-shore scales on the order of 20 km. Identification of spatial variation in elemental fingerprints that is stable over time represents a crucial step in enhancing our ability to understand larval transport and population connectivity in invertebrates.

Bernardino, AF, Levin LA, Thurber AR, Smith CR.  2012.  Comparative composition, diversity and trophic ecology of sediment macrofauna at vents, seeps and organic falls. Plos One. 7   10.1371/journal.pone.0033515   AbstractWebsite

Sediments associated with hydrothermal venting, methane seepage and large organic falls such as whale, wood and plant detritus create deep-sea networks of soft-sediment habitats fueled, at least in part, by the oxidation of reduced chemicals. Biological studies at deep-sea vents, seeps and organic falls have looked at macrofaunal taxa, but there has yet to be a systematic comparison of the community-level attributes of sediment macrobenthos in various reducing ecosystems. Here we review key similarities and differences in the sediment-dwelling assemblages of each system with the goals of (1) generating a predictive framework for the exploration and study of newly identified reducing habitats, and (2) identifying taxa and communities that overlap across ecosystems. We show that deep-sea seep, vent and organic-fall sediments are highly heterogeneous. They sustain different geochemical and microbial processes that are reflected in a complex mosaic of habitats inhabited by a mixture of specialist (heterotrophic and symbiont-associated) and background fauna. Community-level comparisons reveal that vent, seep and organic-fall macrofauna are very distinct in terms of composition at the family level, although they share many dominant taxa among these highly sulphidic habitats. Stress gradients are good predictors of macrofaunal diversity at some sites, but habitat heterogeneity and facilitation often modify community structure. The biogeochemical differences across ecosystems and within habitats result in wide differences in organic utilization (i.e., food sources) and in the prevalence of chemosynthesis-derived nutrition. In the Pacific, vents, seeps and organic-falls exhibit distinct macrofaunal assemblages at broad-scales contributing to beta diversity. This has important implications for the conservation of reducing ecosystems, which face growing threats from human activities.

Blair, NE, Plaia GR, Boehme SE, Demaster DJ, Levin LA.  1994.  The remineralization of organic carbon on the North Carolina continental slope. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 41:755-766.   10.1016/0967-0645(94)90046-9   AbstractWebsite

The sources and fates of metabolizable organic carbon were examined at three sites on the North Carolina slope positioned offshore of Cape Fear, Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras. The C-13/C-12 compositions (delta(13)C) of the solid phase organic matter, and the dissolved inorganic carbon (Sigma CO2) produced during its oxidation, suggested that the labile fraction was predominantly marine in origin. The Sigma CO2 concentration gradient across the sediment-water interface, and by inference the Sigma CO2 flux and production rate, increased northward from Cape Fear to Cape Hatteras. Methane distributions and Sigma CO2 delta(13)C values suggest that the rate of anaerobic diagenesis increased northward as well. The differences in sedimentary biogeochemistry are most likely driven by an along-slope gradient of reactive organic carbon flux to the seabed. This trend in reactive organic carbon flux correlates well with macrofaunal densities previously observed at the three sites. Proximity to the shelf and the transport of particulate material by surface boundary currents may control the deposition of metabolizable material on the Carolina slope. Evidence for methanogenesis was found only on the Cape Hatteras slope. The methane, which was produced at a depth of approximately 1 m in the seabed, was consumed nearly quantitatively in the biologically mixed layer as it diffused upward. Irrigation of the sediments by infauna may have provided the necessary oxidant for the consumption of the methane.

Blair, NE, Levin LA, Demaster DJ, Plaia G.  1996.  The short-term fate of fresh algal carbon in continental slope sediments. Limnology and Oceanography. 41:1208-1219. AbstractWebsite

Emplacement of a tracer mixture containing C-13-labeled green algae on the sea floor of the continental slope offshore of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, elicited a rapid response over 1.5 d from the dense benthic community. Certain deposit-feeding annelids (e.g. Scalibregma inflatum and Aricidea quadrilobata) became heavily labeled with C-13 as a result Of ingestion of the algae. C-13-labeled organic matter was transported to a depth of at least 4-5 cm into the seabed during the 1.5-d period, presumably as a consequence of a feeding-associated activity. Nonlocal transport produced subsurface peaks in organic C-13 at 2-3 cm. Dissolved inorganic C-13, produced by the oxidation of the labeled algae, penetrated to 10-cm depth. The transport of highly reactive organic matter from the sediment surface at initial velocities greater than or equal to 3 cm d(-1) is expected to be an important control of subsurface benthic processes in slope environments characterized by abundant macrofaunal populations. Anaerobic processes, which are enhanced on the Cape Hatteras slope relative to adjacent areas, may be promoted by the rapid injection of reactive material into subsurface sediments. The transport, in turn, is a consequence of the dense infaunal populations that are supported by the rapid deposition of organic carbon in this region.

Blair, NE, Levin LA, Demaster DJ, Plaia G, Martin C, Fornes W, Thomas C, Pope R.  2001.  The biogeochemistry of carbon in continental slope sediments. Organism-sediment Interactions. ( Aller JY, Woodin S, Aller RC, Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine Biology and Coastal Research. , Eds.).:243-262., Columbia: Published for the Belle W. Baruch Insitute for Marine Biology and Coastal Research by the University of South Carolina Press Abstract
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Blankenship, LE, Yayanos AA, Cadien DB, Levin LA.  2006.  Vertical zonation patterns of scavenging amphipods from the Hadal zone of the Tonga and Kermadec Trenches. Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers. 53:48-61.   10.1016/j.dsr.2005.09.006   AbstractWebsite

Deep-sea trenches present an ideal system in which to study vertical zonation, though the difficulties inherent in studying these great depths have thus far deterred such research. Here, we present the first account of the structure and vertical zonation of the scavenging guild residing in the hadal habitat of the Tonga and Kermadec Trenches (SW Pacific Ocean). Four species of scavenging amphipod (Eurythenes gryllus, Scopelocheirus schellenbergi, Hirondellea dubia, and Uristes sp. nov.) were captured with baited free-vehicle traps set 1 m above the seafloor and deployed to bottom depths between 5155 and 10,787 m. Each species occupied a distinct vertical zone of 3.5 km or less, and the scavenging amphipod assemblage vertically partitioned the hadal zone. Scavenging amphipod diversity and evenness sharply declined below 9 km. For S. schellenbergi and H. dubia, population structure was stratified ontogenetically. Early instars appeared to reside exclusively in the shallower depths of each species' vertical zone, and were functionally missing from the median and deeper regions. We captured brooding Uristes sp. nov. females, documenting the first bait-attendance event of brooding amphipods in the hadal zone. Separation of habitat in conjunction with deviations in reproductive traits, behaviors, and nutritional strategies may facilitate the coexistence of these four related species in this harsh and confining habitat. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Blankenship, LE, Levin LA.  2007.  Extreme food webs: Foraging strategies and diets of scavenging amphipods from the ocean's deepest 5 kilometers. Limnology and Oceanography. 52:1685-1697.   10.4319/lo.2007.52.4.1685   AbstractWebsite

We explore hypotheses that alternate foraging strategies, diet, or nutrient partitioning could help explain the success of scavenging Lysianassoids (Amphipoda) in hadal oligotrophic trenches (depths of 6-11 km) by examining the nutritional strategies of four lysianassoid species ( Eurythenes gryllus, Scopelocheirus schellenbergi, Hirondellea dubia, and Uristes sp. nov.) collected with baited traps (6.3-10.8 km) from the oligotrophic Tonga and Kermadec Trenches (southwest Pacific Ocean). Diets and foraging strategies were examined by use of (1) the nascent DNA-based analysis of hindgut contents, which provides a 'snapshot' of recently ingested organisms, and (2) natural abundance isotopic signatures, which reflect the source of nutrition and relative trophic position. The scavenging guild exhibits remarkable trophic plasticity, and each amphipod species employs alternate foraging modes, including detrivory or predation, to supplement necrophagy. The nutritional strategies of some species appear to shift with age, depth, and even between trenches. Thus, there is no single ubiquitous hadal food web; rather it is influenced by depth and overlying surface productivity. Isotopic data suggest that coexisting species partition the dietary items, providing evidence of competition among members of the scavenging guild. The extreme foraging flexibility of scavenging amphipods may ultimately contribute to their success in severely food-limited hadal ecosystems.

Bowden, DA, Rowden AA, Thurber AR, Baco AR, Levin LA, Smith CR.  2013.  Cold seep epifaunal communities on the Hikurangi Margin, New Zealand: Composition, succession, and vulnerability to human activities. Plos One. 8   10.1371/journal.pone.0076869   AbstractWebsite

Cold seep communities with distinctive chemoautotrophic fauna occur where hydrocarbon-rich fluids escape from the seabed. We describe community composition, population densities, spatial extent, and within-region variability of epifaunal communities at methane-rich cold seep sites on the Hikurangi Margin, New Zealand. Using data from towed camera transects, we match observations to information about the probable life-history characteristics of the principal fauna to develop a hypothetical succession sequence for the Hikurangi seep communities, from the onset of fluid flux to senescence. New Zealand seep communities exhibit taxa characteristic of seeps in other regions, including predominance of large siboglinid tubeworms, vesicomyid clams, and bathymodiolin mussels. Some aspects appear to be novel; however, particularly the association of dense populations of ampharetid polychaetes with high-sulphide, high-methane flux, soft-sediment microhabitats. The common occurrence of these ampharetids suggests they play a role in conditioning sulphide-rich sediments at the sediment-water interface, thus facilitating settlement of clam and tubeworm taxa which dominate space during later successional stages. The seep sites are subject to disturbance from bottom trawling at present and potentially from gas hydrate extraction in future. The likely life-history characteristics of the dominant megafauna suggest that while ampharetids, clams, and mussels exploit ephemeral resources through rapid growth and reproduction, lamellibrachid tubeworm populations may persist potentially for centuries. The potential consequences of gas hydrate extraction cannot be fully assessed until extraction methods and target localities are defined but any long-term modification of fluid flow to seep sites would have consequences for all chemoautotrophic fauna.

Breitburg, DL, Salisbury J, Bernhard JM, Cai WJ, Dupont S, Doney SC, Kroeker KJ, Levin LA, Long WC, Milke LM, Miller SH, Phelan B, Passow U, Seibel BA, Todgham AE, Tarrant AM.  2015.  And on top of all that... Coping with ocean acidification in the midst of many stressors. Oceanography. 28:48-61.   10.5670/oceanog.2015.31   AbstractWebsite

Oceanic and coastal waters are acidifying due to processes dominated in the open ocean by increasing atmospheric CO2 and dominated in estuaries and some coastal waters by nutrient-fueled respiration. The patterns and severity of acidification, as well as its effects, are modified by the host of stressors related to human activities that also influence these habitats. Temperature, deoxygenation, and changes in food webs are particularly important co-stressors because they are pervasive, and both their causes and effects are often mechanistically linked to acidification. Development of a theoretical underpinning to multiple stressor research that considers physiological, ecological, and evolutionary perspectives is needed because testing all combinations of stressors and stressor intensities experimentally is impossible. Nevertheless, use of a wide variety of research approaches is a logical and promising strategy for improving understanding of acidification and its effects. Future research that focuses on spatial and temporal patterns of stressor interactions and on identifying mechanisms by which multiple stressors affect individuals, populations, and ecosystems is critical. It is also necessary to incorporate consideration of multiple stressors into management, mitigation, and adaptation to acidification and to increase public and policy recognition of the importance of addressing acidification in the context of the suite of other stressors with which it potentially interacts.

Breitburg, D, Levin LA, Oschlies A, Grégoire M, Chavez FP, Conley DJ, Garçon V, Gilbert D, Gutiérrez D, Isensee K, Jacinto GS, Limburg KE, Montes I, Naqvi SWA, Pitcher GC, Rabalais NN, Roman MR, Rose KA, Seibel BA, Telszewski M, Yasuhara M, Zhang J.  2018.  Declining oxygen in the global ocean and coastal waters. Science. 359   10.1126/science.aam7240   Abstract

As plastic waste pollutes the oceans and fish stocks decline, unseen below the surface another problem grows: deoxygenation. Breitburg et al. review the evidence for the downward trajectory of oxygen levels in increasing areas of the open ocean and coastal waters. Rising nutrient loads coupled with climate change—each resulting from human activities—are changing ocean biogeochemistry and increasing oxygen consumption. This results in destabilization of sediments and fundamental shifts in the availability of key nutrients. In the short term, some compensatory effects may result in improvements in local fisheries, such as in cases where stocks are squeezed between the surface and elevated oxygen minimum zones. In the longer term, these conditions are unsustainable and may result in ecosystem collapses, which ultimately will cause societal and economic harm.

Bridges, TS, Levin LA, Cabrera D, Plaia G.  1994.  Effects of sediment amended with sewage, algae, or hydrocarbons on growth and reproduction in two opportunistic polychaetes. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 177:99-119.   10.1016/0022-0981(94)90146-5   AbstractWebsite

The effects of organic- (sewage and blue-green algae) and hydrocarbon- (no. 2 fuel oil) amended sediments on growth schedules, age and size at maturity, fecundity, and reproductive output were examined for the opportunistic polychaetes Streblospio benedicti Webster and Capitella sp. 1. The two species responded very differently to the amended sediments. For S. benedicti, asymptotic size was reduced and age at first reproduction occurred later in the algae and hydrocarbon treatments compared to the marsh mud only and sewage treatments. Organic- and hydrocarbon-amended sediments did not affect per brood measures of fecundity or C and N investment in S. benedicti. In contrast, Capitella sp. I exhibited strong, positive responses to the organically amended sediments; this was seen in terms of more rapid growth (2 x), younger age at first reproduction (50%), larger asymptotic size (6 x), and higher per brood fecundity and C and N investment (4 x). Reproductive output, a relative measure of reproductive investment, was not directly affected by treatments in either species. For Capitella sp. I in organically enriched settings, the benefits of larger body size appear to include higher per brood fecundity without increasing the relative cost (in terms of reproductive output) of producing a brood of young. The population explosions of Capitella sp. I in response to organic enrichment are the result of earlier reproduction and increased body size and fecundity. Positive population-level responses of S. benedicti to contaminated sediments may be the result of its ability to tolerate conditions that other members of a community do not.

Buhl-Mortensen, L, Vanreusel A, Gooday AJ, Levin LA, Priede IG, Buhl-Mortensen P, Gheerardyn H, King NJ, Raes M.  2010.  Biological structures as a source of habitat heterogeneity and biodiversity on the deep ocean margins. Marine Ecology-an Evolutionary Perspective. 31:21-50.   10.1111/j.1439-0485.2010.00359.x   AbstractWebsite

Biological structures exert a major influence on species diversity at both local and regional scales on deep continental margins. Some organisms use other species as substrates for attachment, shelter, feeding or parasitism, but there may also be Mutual benefits from the association. Here, we highlight the structural attributes and biotic effects of the habitats that corals, sea pens, sponges and xenophyophores offer other organisms. The environmental setting of the biological structures influences their species composition. The importance of benthic species as substrates seems to increase with depth as the complexity of the surrounding geological substrate and food supply decline. There are marked differences in the degree of mutualistic relationships between habitat-forming taxa. This is especially evident for scleractinian corals, which have high numbers of facultative associates (commensals) and few obligate associates (mutualists), and gorgonians, with their few commensals and many obligate associates. Size, flexibility and architectural complexity of the habitat-forming organism are positively related to species diversity for both sessile and mobile species. This is mainly evident for commensal species sharing a facultative relationship with their host. Habitat complexity is enhanced by the architecture of biological structures, as well as by biological interactions. Colony morphology has a great influence on feeding efficiency for suspension feeders. Suspension feeding, habitat-forming organisms modify the environment to optimize their food uptake. This environmental advantage is also passed on to associated filter-feeding species. These effects are poorly understood but represent key points for understanding ecosystems and biodiversity on continental margins. In this paper we explore the contributions of organisms and the biotic structures they create (rather than physical modifications) to habitat heterogeneity and diversity on the deep continental margins.

Burkett, AM, Rathburn AE, Perez ME, Levin LA, Martin JB.  2016.  Colonization of over a thousand Cibicidoides wuellerstorfi (foraminifera: Schwager, 1866) on artificial substrates in seep and adjacent off-seep locations in dysoxic, deep-sea environments. Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers. 117:39-50.   10.1016/j.dsr.2016.08.011   AbstractWebsite

After-1 yr on the seafloor at water depths of similar to 700 m on Hydrate Ridge in the Pacific, eight colonization experiments composed primarily of a plastic mesh cube (from here on refered to as SEA(3), for Seafloor Epibenthic Attachment Cubes) were colonized by 1076 Cibicidoides wuellerstorfi on similar to 1841 cm(2) of experimental substrate. This species is typically considered an indicator of well-oxygenated conditions, and recruitment of such large numbers in bottom waters with low dissolved oxygen availability (0.24-0.37 mL/L) indicate that this taxon may not be as limited by oxygen as previously thought. Clues about substrate preferences were evident from the distribution, or lack thereof, of individuals among plastic mesh, coated steel frame, wooden dowels and reflective tape. Abundance, individual size distributions within cage populations and isotopic biogeochemistry of living foraminifera colonizing experimental substrates were compared between active seep and adjacent off seep experiment locations, revealing potential differences between these environments. Few studies have examined foraminiferal colonization of hard substrates in the deep-sea and to our knowledge no previous study has compared foraminiferal colonization of active seep and off-seep substrates from the same region. This study provides initial results of recruitment, colonization, geochemical and morphological aspects of the paleoceanographically significant species, C. wuellerstorfi, from dynamic deep-sea environments. Further experimental deployments of SEA(3)s will provide a means to assess relatively unknown ecologic dynamics of important foraminiferal deep-sea species.

Burkett, AM, Rathburn AE, Perez ME, Levin LA, Cha H, Rouse GW.  2015.  Phylogenetic placement of Cibicidoides wuellerstorfi (Schwager, 1866) from methane seeps and non-seep habitats on the Pacific margin. Geobiology. 13:44-52.   10.1111/gbi.12118   AbstractWebsite

Benthic foraminifera are among the most abundant groups found in deep-sea habitats, including methane seep environments. Unlike many groups, no endemic foraminiferal species have been reported from methane seeps, and to our knowledge, genetic data are currently sparse for Pacific deep-sea foraminifera. In an effort to understand the relationships between seep and non-seep populations of the deep-sea foraminifera Cibicidoides wuellerstorfi, a common paleo-indicator species, specimens from methane seeps in the Pacific were analyzed and compared to one another for genetic similarities of small subunit rDNA (SSU rDNA) sequences. Pacific Ocean C. wuellerstorfi were also compared to those collected from other localities around the world (based on 18S gene available on Genbank, e.g., Schweizer et al., 2009). Results from this study revealed that C. wuellerstorfi living in seeps near Costa Rica and Hydrate Ridge are genetically similar to one another at the species level. Individuals collected from the same location that display opposite coiling directions (dextral and sinstral) had no species level genetic differences. Comparisons of specimens with genetic information available from Genbank (SSU rDNA) showed that Pacific individuals, collected for this study, are genetically similar to those previously analyzed from the North Atlantic and Antarctic. These observations provide strong evidence for the true cosmopolitan nature of C. wuellerstorfi and highlight the importance of understanding how these microscopic organisms are able to maintain sufficient genetic exchange to remain within the same species between seep and non-seep habitats and over global distances.

C
Carson, HS, Cook GS, Lopez-Duarte PC, Levin LA.  2011.  Evaluating the importance of demographic connectivity in a marine metapopulation. Ecology. 92:1972-1984. AbstractWebsite

Recently researchers have gone to great lengths to measure marine metapopulation connectivity via tagging, genetic, and trace-elemental fingerprinting studies. These empirical estimates of larval dispersal are key to assessing the significance of metapopulation connectivity within a demographic context, but the life-history data required to do this are rarely available. To evaluate the demographic consequences of connectivity we constructed seasonal, size-structured metapopulation matrix models for two species of mytilid mussel in San Diego County, California, USA. The self-recruitment and larval exchange terms were produced from a time series of realized connectivities derived from trace-elemental fingerprinting of larval shells during spring and fall from 2003 to 2008. Both species exhibited a strong seasonal pattern of southward movement of recruits in spring and northward movement in fall. Growth and mortality terms were estimated using mark recapture data from representative sites for each species and subpopulation, and literature estimates of juvenile mortality. Fecundity terms were estimated using county-wide settlement data from 2006-2008; these data reveal peak reproduction and recruitment in fall for Mytilus californianus, and spring for M. galloprovincialis. Elasticity and life-stage simulation analyses were employed to identify the season- and subpopulation-specific vital rates and connectivity terms to which the metapopulation growth rate (lambda) was most sensitive. For both species, metapopulation growth was most sensitive to proportional changes in adult fecundity, survival and growth of juvenile stages, and population connectivity, in order of importance, but relatively insensitive to adult growth or survival. The metapopulation concept was deemed appropriate for both Mytilus species as exchange between the subpopulations was necessary for subpopulation persistence. However, highest metapopulation growth occurred in years when a greater proportion of recruits was retained within the predominant source subpopulation. Despite differences in habitat and planktonic duration, both species exhibited similar overall metapopulation dynamics with respect to key life stages and processes. However, different peak reproductive periods in an environment of seasonal current reversals led to different regional (subpopulation) contributions to metapopulation maintenance; this result emphasizes the importance of connectivity analysis for spatial, management of coastal resources.

Carson, HS, Lopez-Duarte PC, Rasmussen L, Wang DX, Levin LA.  2010.  Reproductive timing alters population connectivity in marine metapopulations. Current Biology. 20:1926-1931.   10.1016/j.cub.2010.09.057   AbstractWebsite

Populations of most marine organisms are connected by the dispersal of larval stages, with profound implications for marine conservation [1]. Because of the extreme effort needed to empirically measure larval exchange, multispecies conservation efforts must estimate connectivity by extrapolation using taxonomy, adult distribution, life history, behavior, or phenology. Using a 6-year record of connectivity realized through trace-elemental fingerprinting of larval shells, we document the seasonal and interannual variability of larval exchange for two congeneric mussel species with overlapping but distinct distribution, life history, and reproduction timing. We reveal consistent autumn poleward movement and spring equatorward movement for both species, coincident with near-shore surface currents. However, because the major reproductive seasons differ, the dominant source-sink dynamics of these two congeneric species are nearly opposite. Consideration of present and future reproductive timing as altered by climate change is crucial to marine connectivity and conservation, especially for the numerous coastal areas subject to seasonal current reversals.

Case, DH, Pasulka AL, Marlow JJ, Grupe BM, Levin LA, Orphan VJ.  2015.  Methane seep carbonates host distinct, diverse, and dynamic microbial assemblages. Mbio. 6   10.1128/mBio.01348-15   AbstractWebsite

Marine methane seeps are globally distributed geologic features in which reduced fluids, including methane, are advected upward from the subsurface. As a result of alkalinity generation during sulfate-coupled methane oxidation, authigenic carbonates form slabs, nodules, and extensive pavements. These carbonates shape the landscape within methane seeps, persist long after methane flux is diminished, and in some cases are incorporated into the geologic record. In this study, microbial assemblages from 134 native and experimental samples across 5,500 km, representing a range of habitat substrates (carbonate nodules and slabs, sediment, bottom water, and wood) and seepage conditions (active and low activity), were analyzed to address two fundamental questions of seep microbial ecology: (i) whether carbonates host distinct microbial assemblages and (ii) how sensitive microbial assemblages are to habitat substrate type and temporal shifts in methane seepage flux. Through massively parallel 16S rRNA gene sequencing and statistical analysis, native carbonates are shown to be reservoirs of distinct and highly diverse seep microbial assemblages. Unique coupled transplantation and colonization experiments on the seafloor demonstrated that carbonate-associated microbial assemblages are resilient to seep quiescence and reactive to seep activation over 13 months. Various rates of response to simulated seep quiescence and activation are observed among similar phylogenies (e.g., Chloroflexi operational taxonomic units) and similar metabolisms (e.g., putative S oxidizers), demonstrating the wide range of microbial sensitivity to changes in seepage flux. These results imply that carbonates do not passively record a time-integrated history of seep microorganisms but rather host distinct, diverse, and dynamic microbial assemblages. IMPORTANCE Since their discovery in 1984, the global distribution and importance of marine methane seeps have become increasingly clear. Much of our understanding of methane seep microorganisms-from metabolisms to community ecology-has stemmed from detailed studies of seep sediments. However, it has become apparent that carbonates represent a volumetrically significant habitat substrate at methane seeps. Through combined in situ characterization and incubation experiments, this study demonstrates that carbonates host microbial assemblages distinct from and more diverse than those of other seep habitats. This emphasizes the importance of seep carbonates as biodiversity locales. Furthermore, we demonstrate that carbonate-associated microbial assemblages are well adapted to withstand fluctuations in methane seepage, and we gain novel insight into particular taxa that are responsive (or recalcitrant) to changes in seep conditions.