Articles | Volume 9, issue 11
Research article
26 Nov 2012
Research article |  | 26 Nov 2012

Deep-sea scavenging amphipod assemblages from the submarine canyons of the Western Iberian Peninsula

G. A. Duffy, T. Horton, and D. S. M. Billett

Abstract. Submarine canyons have often been identified as hotspots of secondary production with the potential to house distinct faunal assemblages and idiosyncratic ecosystems. Within these deep-sea habitats, assemblages of scavenging fauna play a vital role in reintroducing organic matter from large food falls into the wider deep-sea food chain.

Free-fall baited traps were set at different depths within three submarine canyons on the Iberian Margin. Amphipods from the traps were identified to species level and counted. Scavenging amphipod assemblages were compared at different depths within each canyon and between individual canyon systems. Using data from literature, abyssal plain assemblages were compared to submarine canyon assemblages. Samples from canyons were found to contain common abyssal plain species but in greater than expected abundances. It is proposed that this is a result of the high organic carbon input into canyon systems owing to their interception of sediment from the continental shelf and input from associated estuarine systems. Community composition differed significantly between the submarine canyons and abyssal plains. The cause of this difference cannot be attributed to one environmental variable due to the numerous inherent differences between canyons and abyssal plains.

Final-revised paper