Extraordinarily high biomass benthic community on Southern Ocean seamounts

TitleExtraordinarily high biomass benthic community on Southern Ocean seamounts
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsThresher, RE, Adkins, J, Fallon, SJ, Gowlett-Holmes, K, Althaus, F, Williams, A
Date Publishedoct
Type of ArticleArticle
KeywordsAUV ABE (Autonomous Benthic Explorer), ROV Jason (Remotely Operated Vehicle)

We describe a previously unknown assemblage of seamount-associated megabenthos that has by far the highest peak biomass reported in the deep-sea outside of vent communities. The assemblage was found at depths of 2-2.5 km on rocky geomorphic features off the southeast coast of Australia, in an area near the Sub-Antarctic Zone characterised by high rates of surface productivity and carbon export to the deep-ocean. These conditions, and the taxa in the assemblage, are widely distributed around the Southern mid-latitudes, suggesting the high-biomass assemblage is also likely to be widespread. The role of this assemblage in regional ecosystem and carbon dynamics and its sensitivities to anthropogenic impacts are unknown. The discovery highlights the lack of information on deep-sea biota worldwide and the potential for unanticipated impacts of deep-sea exploitation.