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Limited spatial and temporal variability in meiofauna and nematode communities at distant but environmentally similar sites in an area of interest for deep-sea mining
Pape, E.; Bezerra, T.N.; Hauquier, F.; Vanreusel, A. (2017). Limited spatial and temporal variability in meiofauna and nematode communities at distant but environmentally similar sites in an area of interest for deep-sea mining. Front. Mar. Sci. 4(205): 205. https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2017.00205
In: Frontiers in Marine Science. Frontiers Media: Lausanne. ISSN 2296-7745, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine
Author keywords
    polymetallic nodules, Nematoda, environmental baseline, biodiversity, Halalaimus

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Abstract
    To be able to adequately assess potential environmental impacts of deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining, the establishment of a proper environmental baseline, incorporating both spatial and temporal variability, is essential. The aim of the present study was to evaluate both spatial and intra-annual variability in meiofauna (higher taxa) and nematode communities (families and genera, and Halalaimus species) within the license area of Global Sea mineral Resources (GSR) in the northeastern Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ), and to determine the efficiency of the current sampling of meiofauna and nematode diversity. In October 2015, three polymetallic nodule-bearing sites, about 60–270 km apart, located at similar depths (ca. 4,500 m) were sampled, of which one site was sampled in April in that same year. Despite the relatively large geographical distances and the statistically significant, but small, differences in sedimentary characteristics between sites, meiofauna and nematode communities were largely similar in terms of abundance, composition and diversity. Between-site differences in community composition were mainly driven by a set of rare and less abundant taxa. Moreover, although surface primary productivity in April exceeded that in October, no significant changes were observed in sedimentary characteristics or in meiofauna and nematode communities. At all sites and in both periods, Nematoda were the prevailing meiofaunal phylum, which was in turn dominated by Monhysterid genera and Acantholaimus. Our findings support the earlier purported notion of a low degree of endemism for nematode genera and meiofauna taxa in the deep sea, and hint at the possibility of large distribution ranges for at least some Halalaimus species. Taxon richness estimators revealed that the current sampling design was able to characterize the majority of the meiofauna and nematode taxa present. To conclude, implications of the present findings for environmental management and future research needs are provided.

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