Assemblage structure is related to slope and depth on a deep offshore Pacific seamount chain

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Abstract

Scientific study has generated a range of hypotheses about the ecological structure and function of seamounts. Interpretations of these ideas and data are vital to understanding how seamount communities will respond to anthropogenic impacts. Here, we examine how diversity and structure of seamount assemblages vary with depth and slope of the sea floor. We conducted ROV video transects on three seamounts of the Taney Seamount Chain in the Northeast Pacific Ocean. Depth and slope were both related to assemblage structure on the Taney seamounts. Depth differences were seen in alpha- and beta-diversity but not density. Beta-diversity and density but not alpha-diversity varied with slope. Overall, slope and depth together explained 14–31% of beta-diversity. The findings suggest that differences in beta-diversity as related to depth gradients may differ among onshore and offshore and/or between shallow and deep summit seamounts. Specifically, we hypothesize that differences in productivity and depth gradients among seamounts may generate different patterns of beta-diversity.

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