Canyon effect and seasonal variability of deep-sea organisms in the NW Mediterranean: synchronous, year-long captures of “swimmers” from nearbottom sediment traps in a submarine canyon and its adjacent open slope

Romano, ChiaraFlexas, María del MarSegura, M.Román, SaraBahamon, Nixon ; Gili, Josep MaríaSánchez-Vidal, AnnaMartin, Daniel. Deep-sea Research I: Oceanographic Research Papers : DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr.2017.10.002 (2017) DIGITAL CSIC

Numerous organisms, including both passive sinkers and active migrators, are captured in sediment traps together with sediments. By capturing these “swimmers”, the traps become an extraordinarily tool to obtain relevant information on the biodiversity and dynamics of deep-sea organisms. Here we analyze near-bottom swimmers larger than 500 mm and their fluxes collected from eight near-bottom sediment traps installed on instrumented moorings deployed nearby Blanes Canyon (BC). Our data, obtained from November 2008 to October 2009 with a sampling rate of 15 days, constitutes the first year-long, continuous time series of the whole swimmers’ community collected at different traps and bottom depths (from 300 m to 1800 m) inside a submarine canyon and on its adjacent open slope (OS). The traps captured 2155 specimens belonging to 70 taxa, with Crustacea (mainly Copepoda) and Annelida Polychaeta accounting for more than 90% of the total abundance. Almost half of the identified taxa (33) were only present in BC traps, where mean annual swimmer fluxes per trap were almost one order of magnitude higher than in the OS ones. Temporal variability in swimmer fluxes was more evident in BC than in OS. Fluxes dropped in winter (in coincidence with the stormy period in the region) and remained low until the following spring. In spring, there was a switch in taxa composition, including an increase of planktonic organisms. Additionally, we report drastic effects of extreme events, such as major storms, on deep-sea fauna. The impact of such extreme events along submarine canyon systems calls to rethink the influence of climate-driven phenomena on deep-sea ecosystems and, consequently, on their living resources.