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Seafloor heterogeneity influences the biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships in the deep sea
Zeppilli, D.; Pusceddu, A.; Trincardi, F.; Danovaro, R. (2016). Seafloor heterogeneity influences the biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships in the deep sea. NPG Scientific Reports 6(26352): 12 pp. http://hdl.handle.net/10.1038/srep26352
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322; e-ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Zeppilli, D.
  • Pusceddu, A.
  • Trincardi, F.
  • Danovaro, R.

Abstract
    Theoretical ecology predicts that heterogeneous habitats allow more species to co-exist in a given area. In the deep sea, biodiversity is positively linked with ecosystem functioning, suggesting that deep-seabed heterogeneity could influence ecosystem functions and the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF). To shed light on the BEF relationships in a heterogeneous deep seabed, we investigated variations in meiofaunal biodiversity, biomass and ecosystem efficiency within and among different seabed morphologies (e.g., furrows, erosional troughs, sediment waves and other depositional structures, landslide scars and deposits) in a narrow geo-morphologically articulated sector of the Adriatic Sea. We show that distinct seafloor morphologies are characterized by highly diverse nematode assemblages, whereas areas sharing similar seabed morphologies host similar nematode assemblages. BEF relationships are consistently positive across the entire region, but different seabed morphologies are characterised by different slope coefficients of the relationship. Our results suggest that seafloor heterogeneity, allowing diversified assemblages across different habitats, increases diversity and influence ecosystem processes at the regional scale, and BEF relationships at smaller spatial scales. We conclude that high-resolution seabed mapping and a detailed analysis of the species distribution at the habitat scale are crucial for improving management of goods and services delivered by deep-sea ecosystems.

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