Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 89–103 | Cite as

Colonization of synthetic sponges at the deep-sea Lucky Strike hydrothermal vent field (Mid-Atlantic Ridge): a first insight

  • Elisa Baldrighi
  • Daniela Zeppilli
  • Rosalie Crespin
  • Pierre Chauvaud
  • Florence Pradillon
  • Jozée Sarrazin
Meio Extreme


The main objective of the present study was to investigate invertebrate colonization processes at deep-sea hydrothermal vents in response to environmental factors and to the presence of complex artificial substrata (i.e., synthetic sponges). We set out a pilot experiment at 1700 m depth on the Lucky Strike vent field (Eiffel Tower, Mid-Atlantic Ridge). Synthetic sponges were deployed in 2011 at five sites along a gradient of hydrothermal activity and were recovered in 2013, and the composition of macro- and meiofauna was assessed on four of them. The influence of temperature and fluid inputs on colonizer faunal abundance and diversity was analyzed. Faunal abundance and diversity decreased with increasing distance from vent emission. The colonizers were represented by a subset of species characterizing the natural populations at the Eiffel Tower edifice. Some taxa (e.g., pycnogonids, ophiuroids, cnidarians, foraminiferans) represented new records not yet found on deployed substrata on the Eiffel Tower. Synthetic sponges harbored a high percentage (from 17.5% to 55%) of juveniles and larval stages of polychaetes, molluscs, and copepods. A mature nematode community (mainly Cephalochaetosoma and Halomonhystera) in a reproductive stage was found. Variability in faunal composition was significantly correlated with distance from fluid emission. We hypothesize that the complex structure of inorganic sponge substrata may have favored settlement of juveniles and larvae. Sponge substrata may, therefore, help sample a wider range of organisms than other substrata, and, thereby, provide a more complete picture of vent biodiversity. The results provided in this study might improve our understanding of mechanisms that govern faunal colonization processes at vents.


Synthetic sponges Colonization Lucky Strike Meiofauna Macrofauna Substratum type 



Special thanks go to the captains and crews of the R/V Pourquoi Pas? and the pilots of the VICTOR 6000 ROV for their great support during the MoMARSAT 2011 and BIOBAZ 2013 cruises. We are also very grateful to the LEP technical and engineering teams for their support at sea and in the laboratory. This work was supported by the “Laboratoire d’Excellence” LabexMER (ANR-10-LABX-19) and EGIDE Campus France, is co-funded by a grant from the French government under the program “Investissements d’Avenir”, and is part of the EMSO-Acores research program funded by an ANR research grant (ANR Lucky Scales ANR-14-CE02-0008-02). DZ was partially supported by the project “Prokaryote–nematode Interaction in marine extreme envirONments: a uniquE source for ExploRation of innovative biomedical applications” (PIONEER) funded by the Total Foundation and Ifremer.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Field study

Permits and approval of field or observational studies have been obtained by the authors, if applicable.


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisa Baldrighi
    • 1
  • Daniela Zeppilli
    • 1
  • Rosalie Crespin
    • 1
  • Pierre Chauvaud
    • 1
  • Florence Pradillon
    • 1
  • Jozée Sarrazin
    • 1
  1. 1.IFREMER, Centre Brest, REM/EEP/LEP, ZI de la pointe du diable, CS10070PlouzanéFrance

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