Linking Abiotic Variables with Macrofaunal and Meiofaunal Abundance and Community Structure Patterns on the Gulf of Mexico Continental Slope

  • Paul A. MontagnaEmail author
  • Jeffrey G. Baguley
  • Gilbert T. Rowe
  • Terry L. Wade


The Deep Gulf of Mexico Benthos (DGoMB) program was designed to determine patterns of abundance and diversity of meiofauna and macrofauna in the northern Gulf of Mexico continental slope between 300 m and 3700 m depth. Abundance of all taxa was significantly influenced by the particulate organic carbon (POC) flux. The abundance of meiofauna, macrofauna, crustaceans, and mollusks increased with increasing clay content, but clay had no significant effect on harpacticoid or polychaete abundance. Polychaete diversity was significantly correlated to POC flux, but mollusk diversity was correlated to sediment properties. Polychaetes had the highest average abundance and species richness. Harpacticoids were the least abundant of the four taxa, but had the highest values of Hill’s diversity index and Pielou’s evenness index. Harpacticoids and Crustaceans had high species turnover rates, resulting in low similarities of the respective faunas between sampling stations, whereas mollusks and polychaetes were more similar between different sampling stations. Overall, there were interannual differences in abundance patterns of meiofauna and macrofauna, similar community structure patterns among the taxa, and unique distributions of diversity with respect to depth and longitude.


Deep-sea benthos DGoMB Diversity Infauna Macrofauna Meiofauna Sediment characteristics Sediment chemistry 



Most of this research was supported by the Minerals Management Service, US Department of the Interior (contract 30991). The writing and publication of the research was made possible in part by grants to P. Montagna from The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative/C-IMAGE III (award SA 18-16), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (award NA11SEC4810001). All data used are available at 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul A. Montagna
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeffrey G. Baguley
    • 2
  • Gilbert T. Rowe
    • 3
  • Terry L. Wade
    • 4
  1. 1.Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Harte Research InstituteCorpus ChristiUSA
  2. 2.University of Nevada-Reno, Department of BiologyRenoUSA
  3. 3.Texas A&M University-Galveston, Department of Marine BiologyGalvestonUSA
  4. 4.Texas A&M University, Geochemical and Environmental Research GroupCollege StationUSA

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