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Trophic Dynamics of Deep-Sea Megabenthos Are Mediated by Surface Productivity
Tecchio, S.; van Oevelen, D.; Soetaert, K.; Navarro, J.; Ramírez-Llodra, E. (2013). Trophic Dynamics of Deep-Sea Megabenthos Are Mediated by Surface Productivity. PLoS One 8(5).
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Tecchio, S.
  • van Oevelen, D., more
  • Soetaert, K., more
  • Navarro, J.
  • Ramírez-Llodra, E.

    Most deep-sea benthic ecosystems are food limited and, in the majority of cases, are driven by the organic matter falling from the surface or advected downslope. Species may adapt to this scarceness by applying a wide variety of responses, such as feeding specialisation, niche width variation, and reduction in metabolic rates. The Mediterranean Sea hosts a gradient of food availability at the deep seafloor over its wide longitudinal transect. In the Mediterranean, broad regional studies on trophic habits are almost absent, and the response of deep-sea benthos to different trophic conditions is still speculative. Here, we show that both primary and secondary production processes taking place at surface layers are key drivers of deepsea food web structuring. By employing an innovative statistical tool, we interpreted bulk-tissue delta(13) C and delta(15) N isotope ratios in benthic megafauna, and associated surface and mesopelagic components from the 3 basins of the Mediterranean Sea at 3 different depths (1200, 2000, and 3000 m). The trophic niche width and the amplitude of primary carbon sources were positively correlated with both primary and secondary surface production indicators. Moreover, mesopelagic organic matter utilization processes showed an intermediate position between surface and deep benthic components. These results shed light on the understanding of deep-sea ecosystems functioning and, at the same time, they demand further investigation.

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