, Volume 73, Issue 3, pp 269-283

Meiofauna and the thiobios in the east flower garden brine seep

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Abstract

Special hydrodynamic-chemical conditions at the East Flower Garden brine seep have provided the opportunity to examine the community structure of the thiobios and the oxybiotic-thiobiotic boundary. The boundary between the thiobios, whose population maxima occur in sulfidedependent chemoclines and which presumably have an ecologic requirement for sulfide, and the oxybios, which occur in oxidized zones above the chemocline, is controlled by sulfide, not oxygen. The boundary, which may not be at zero sulfide, is determined by a time-concentration phenomenon based on a dynamic interplay of sulfide and oxygen supply rates and the biota's sulfide detoxification capabilities. In Gollum's Canyon, where oxygen is plentiful, the boundary is at 10–40 μg-atoms·l-1 sulfide. Total abundances of organisms at thiobiotic stations were comparable to total abundances at oxybiotic stations. Highest thiobiotic abundance was 202 051 organisms per m2; highest oxybiotic abundance was 240 572 organisms per m2. The thiobios is dominated by representatives of the lower Bilateria (viz. Gnathostomulida, Platyhelminthes and Aschelminthes). These groups accounted for 50–80% of all the organisms present in the thiobiotic stations but less than 20% of all organisms in the oxybiotic stations. At two thiobiotic stations, over 50% of all organisms were gnathostomulids. Thiobios included macrofaunal as well as meiofaunal components. Peak abundances of amphipods were associated with the thiobiotic environment.

Communicated by J. M. Lawrence, Tampa