Scavenging amphipods from the Wallaby-Zenith Fracture Zone: Extending the hadal paradigm beyond subduction trenches

Johanna N.J. Weston*, Rachael A. Peart, Heather A. Stewart, Heather Ritchie, Stuart B. Piertney, Thomas D. Linley, Alan J. Jamieson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
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Our understanding of the ecology of the hadal zone (> 6000 m depth) is based solely on subduction trenches, leaving other geomorphological features, such as fracture zones, troughs, and basins, understudied. To address this knowledge gap, the Wallaby-Zenith Fracture Zone, Indian Ocean (WZFZ; ~ 22°S, 102°E; maximum depth 6625 m measured during Expedition SO258) was studied using free-fall baited landers. We assessed the amphipod distribution and community assemblage of this non-subduction hadal feature and compared it to subduction hadal features. Eleven species were identified across the abyssal-hadal transition zone using a paired morphological and DNA barcoding approach. The community composition was found to change gradually from abyssal to hadal depths, which contrasts with the ecotone shift characteristic of subduction trenches. A large population of Bathycallisoma schellenbergi(Birstein & Vinogradov, 1958), a quintessential hadal amphipod, was present at the flat bottom of the WZFZ. Further, an mtDNA phylogeny resolved a degree of phylogeographic structure between the B. schellenbergi WZFZ population and four previously sampled Pacific Ocean subduction trench populations, indicating these features are not interconnected through ongoing gene flow. Combined, these data indicate that some amphipods have far broader distributions than previously understood, with some species present in both hadal subduction trenches and non-subduction fracture zones and basins interspersed across the abyssal plains. This initial exploration highlights that whilst non-subduction features are an overlooked minor fraction of the total hadal area, they are essential to our understanding of the ecological and evolutionary dynamics across the hadal zone.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number1
Early online date21 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank Nick Cuomo for assis- tance with lander deployments, Prof Darren Evans and Dr James Kitson (Newcastle University, UK) for bench space in the Molecular Diagno- sis Facility, Ed Hendrycks (Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada) for guidance on the Cleonardo sp. identification, and Dr Shannon Flynn (Newcastle University, UK) for constructive comments on manuscript drafts. We extend thanks to the Captain and crew on the 2017 R/V SONNE Expedition SO258 Leg 1, especially joint Chief Scientists Dr Reinhard Werner (GEOMAR, Germany) and Prof Hans-Joachim Wagner (University of Tübingen, Germany) and Oleg Lechenko and Julia Marinova (P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia) for the acquisition and processing of the bathymetric data. We are appreciative of the reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions that improved the manuscript.

Participation on the R/V SONNE Expedition SO258 was sup- ported by Newcastle University’s Research Infrastructure Fund (RiF), Exploration of Extreme Ocean Environments, awarded to AJJ. The genetic analysis was funded by Newcastle University through internal funds to JNJW and the University of Aberdeen by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK Grant NE/N01149X/1, awarded to SBP.




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