Abyssal Community Structure of the Benthic Infauna of the Eastern Equatorial Pacific: DOMES Sites A, B, and C

  • Barbara Hecker
  • Allen Z. Paul
Part of the Marine Science book series (MR, volume 9)


Eighty 0.25m2 box cores were collected and analyzed to determine the faunal composition, species diversity and sample similarity of the benthic communities of three sites in the eastern Equatorial Pacific. (The results are part of a baseline survey of the fauna of the manganese nodule province of the Pacific.) The bottom topography of this region is characterized by abyssal hills, with a relief of 50 to 300 meters, at a depth of 4350 to 5150 meters.

Macrofaunal density ranged from 36–268 individuals per m2. A significantly higher density was found at site C, when compared to sites A or B. Numerically, the fauna was dominated by polychaetes (40.1%), tanaids (19.5%), isopods (11.7%) and bivalves (8.4%). Meiofauna was present in high abundances (62% of the total metazoan fauna), even though the screen size used (300 µm) was too large to retain the majority of them. Biomass of the macrofauna ranged from 0.0156–1.5708 grams wet weight per m2.

Deposit feeders comprised 81% of the total macrofauna, while suspension feeders accounted for 19%. This predominance of deposit feeders was also reflected in the trophic structure of the polychaetes, accounting for approximately 89% of the total number of individuals. Site C had the highest percent of suspension feeders, while site A had the lowest.

Species diversity was found to be extremely high and comparable to the results obtained from other deep sea investigations. A very obvious feature of the fauna was the rarity with which most of the species were encountered. As a result reliable estimates of the total number of species in these communities could not be made.

Species similarity analysis suggests there is a higher degree of faunal affinity within a site than between sites. The only obvious environmental difference between the sites is a possible east-west gradient in organic flux.


Standing Crop Suspension Feeder Deposit Feeder Manganese Nodule North Equatorial Current 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Dayton, P.K. and R.R. Hessler. (1972) Role of biological disturbance in maintaining diversity in the deep sea. Deep-Sea Res. 19, 199–208.Google Scholar
  2. Dickinson, J.J. and A.G. Carev, Jr. (1978) Distribution of gammarid Amphipoda (Crustacea) on Cascadia Abyssal Plain (Oregon). Deep-Sea Res. 25, 97–106.Google Scholar
  3. Grassle, J.F. and H.L. Sanders. (1973) Life histories and the role of disturbance. Deep-Sea Res. 22, 643–659.Google Scholar
  4. Grassle, J.F. and W. Smith. (1976) A similarity measure sensitive to the contribution of rare species and its use in investigation of variation in marine benthic communities. Oecologia 25, 13–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hessler, R.R., (1975) The structure of deep benthic communities from central oceanic waters. In: The Biology of the Oceanic Pacific. C. Miller, ed. Proc. 33rd Ann. Biol. Colloq., Oregon State University.Google Scholar
  6. Hessler, R.R. and P.A. Jumars. (1974) Abyssal community analysis from replicate box cores in the central North Pacific. Deep-Sea Res. 21, 185–209.Google Scholar
  7. Hessler, R.R. and H.L. Sanders. (1967) Faunal diversity in the deep sea. Deep-Sea Res. 14, 65–78.Google Scholar
  8. Hurlbert, S.H., (1971) The nonconcept of species diversity: A critique and alternative parameters. Ecology 52, 577–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hutchinson, G.E., (1953) The concept of pattern in ecology. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. 105, 1–12.Google Scholar
  10. Jumars, P.A., (1975a) Methods for measurement of community structure in deep-sea macrobenthos. Mar. Biol. 30, 245–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jumars, P.A., (1975b) Environmental grain and polychaete species diversity in a bathyal benthic community. Mar. Biol. 30, 253–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jumars, P.A. (1976) Deep-Sea species diversity: does it have a characteristic scale? J. Mar. Res. 34, 217–246.Google Scholar
  13. Jumars, P.A. and K. Fauchald. (1977) Between-community contrasts in successful polychaete feeding strategies, pp. 1–20 In: Ecology of Marine Benthos, B.C. Coull, ed. Belle W. Baruch Lib. Mar. Sci. #6, Univ. South Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  14. Jumars, P.A. and R.R. Hessler. (1976) Hadal community structure: implications from the Aleutian Trench, J. Mar. Res. 34, 547–559.Google Scholar
  15. Mantyla, A.W., (1975) On the potential temperature in the abyssal Pacific Ocean. J. Mar. Res. 33, 341–354.Google Scholar
  16. Menzies, R.J. and G.T. Rowe. (1968) The LUBS, a large undisturbed bottom sampler. Limnol. Oceanogr. 13, 708–714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Morisita, M., (1959) Measuring of interspecific association and similarity between communities. Mem. Fac. Sci. Kyushu Univ. Ser. E 2, 215–235.Google Scholar
  18. Rowe, G.T., (1971) Benthic biomass and surface productivity. In: Fertility of the Sea, J.D. Costlow, ed., Gordon and Breach 2, pp. 441–454.Google Scholar
  19. Sanders, H.L., (1968) Marine benthic diversity: a comparative study. Amer. Natur. 102, 243–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sanders, H.L., (1969) Benthic marine diversity and the stability-time hypothesis. Brookhaven Symp. Biol. 22, 71–81.Google Scholar
  21. Sanders, H.L., Hessler, R.R. and G.R. Hampson. (1965) An introduction to the study of deep-sea benthic faunal assemblages along the Gay Head-Bermuda transect. Deep-Sea Res. 12, 845–867.Google Scholar
  22. Simpson, E.H., (1949) Measurement of diversity. Nature 163, 688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Slobodkin, L.B. and H.L. Sanders. (1969) On the contribution of environmental predictability to species diversity. Brookhaven Symp. Biol. 22, 82–93.Google Scholar
  24. Smith, W. and J.F. Grassle. (1977) Sampling properties of a family of diversity measures. Biometrics 33, 283–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sokal, R.R. and F.J. Rohlf. (1969) Biometry, Freeman Press, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  26. Sokal, R.R. and P.H.A. Sneath. (1963) Principles of Numerical Taxonomy, Freeman Press, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  27. Sokolova, M.N., (1971) Trophic structure of deep-sea macro-benthos. Mar. Biol. 16, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Thiel, H., (1975) The size structure of the deep-sea benthos. Int. Revue ges. Hydrobiol. 60, 575’606.Google Scholar
  29. Walton, W.R., (1952) Techniques for recognition of living Foraminifera. Contributions of the Cushman Foundation for Foraminiferal Research 3, 56–60.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Hecker
    • 1
  • Allen Z. Paul
    • 1
  1. 1.Lamont-Doherty Geological ObservatoryColumbia UniversityPalisadesUSA

Personalised recommendations