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Benthic Communities on Lo'ihi Submarine Volcano Reflect High-Disturbance Environment

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Title:Benthic Communities on Lo'ihi Submarine Volcano Reflect High-Disturbance Environment
Authors:Grigg, Richard W.
Date Issued:Jul 1997
Publisher:University of Hawaii Press
Citation:Grigg RW. 1997. Benthic communities on Lo'ihi submarine volcano reflect high-disturbance environment. Pac Sci 51(3): 209-220.
Abstract:Bottom surveys and collections on Lo'ihi Seamount, Hawai'i, revealed
two distinct and recurrent benthic communities. One comprises bacterial mats and
is closely associated with hydrothermal vents. The other consists of dense aggregations
of megabenthos-octocorals, sponges, hydroids, and black corals-all normal
inhabitants of nonvolcanic hard-bottom habitats at comparable depths in the Hawaiian
Islands. The bacterial mats are devoid of specialized megafauna and are found
in summit areas or rift peaks where diffuse low-temperature hydrothermal vents are
common. The absence of megafauna there may be due to extreme environmental
conditions produced by vent waters that contain no oxygen and extraordinarily high
concentrations ofCO2 (pH = 5.5) and trace metals. At greater depths, from 200-300
to 1,000m below the summit, dense aggregations of gorgonians and other megafauna
exist but are uncommon. Aggregations are restricted to stable outcrops of pillow
basalts (kipukas). Surrounding areas are covered by talus and are virtually devoid
of benthic organisms. Their rarity may be due to instability of the substratum caused
by frequent slumping and debris avalanching (mass wasting). Both bacterial mat
and deep flank megabenthic communities reflect a high-disturbance environment.
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 51, Number 3, 1997

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