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Elevated species diversity in abyssal gastropods off Newfoundland: the potential role of food supply

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We compare species diversity and composition in a large sample of deep-sea gastropods collected off Newfoundland and the Grand Banks (4,400 m) to samples from the continental rise (3,806-3,834 m) and abyssal plain (4,680-4,970 m) south of New England. The sample from Newfoundland shares half its species with the fauna found south of New England, but is distinguished compositionally from both continental rise and abyssal communities. Species diversity off Newfoundland is similar to diversity at continental rise depths, but significantly higher than at abyssal depths south of New England. Elevated abyssal diversity off Newfoundland is associated with higher surface production and rates of particulate organic carbon flux to the seafloor, suggesting that food supply potentially plays an important role in regulating diversity at great depths.

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We thank Jack Cook for drafting the illustrations, and Alexa MacPherson for helping to prepare the manuscript, and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. This research was supported by grants from CeDAMar (Census of the Diversity of Abyssal Marine Life, a Division of Census of Marine Life), and the National Science Foundation (OCE-0135949 to M.A.R.).

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Correspondence to Carol T. Stuart.

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Stuart, C.T., Rex, M.A., Tittensor, D.P. et al. Elevated species diversity in abyssal gastropods off Newfoundland: the potential role of food supply. Mar Biodiv 41, 537–544 (2011).

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