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Title: Life-history biology and biogeography of invertebrates in deep-sea chemosynthetic environments
Author: Nye, Verity
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 0154
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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Globally-distributed, insular and ephemeral deep-sea hydrothermal vents with their endemic faunas provide ‘natural laboratories’ for studying the processes that shape global patterns of marine life. The continuing discovery of hydrothermal vents and their faunal assemblages has yielded hundreds of new species and revealed several biogeographic provinces, distinguished by differences in the taxonomic composition of their assemblages. However, the first-order question of how these provinces are separated remains unanswered. The recent discovery of the Beebe (~4600 m depth) and Von Damm (~2300 m depth) vent fields at the Mid-Cayman Spreading Centre and their faunas has provided a critical opportunity to further our understanding of the biodiversity, life-history biology and biogeography of vent species. Here I present Rimicaris hybisae sp. nov. (Caridea: Alvinocarididae), Iheyaspira bathycodon sp. nov. (Turbinidae: Skeneinae), and Lebbeus virentova sp. nov. (Caridea: Hippolytidae) from the Beebe and Von Damm vent fields. I elucidate the general reproductive features of the dominant species at Beebe and Von Damm (R. hybisae) and reveal a high degree of spatial variability in the population structure and reproductive features of this species at both these vent fields. I demonstrate inter-annual variation in the population structure and reproductive development of R. hybisae, superimposed upon the pattern of spatial variation, and hypothesise periodic or seasonal reproductive development in this species. Cluster analysis and the presence of Rimicaris-dominated faunal assemblages at the Beebe and Von Damm vent fields support higher-level taxonomic affinities with the fauna of Mid-Atlantic vents. These findings reveal previously unappreciated spatial variation in the reproductive development of a motile species at hydrothermal vents and expand our knowledge of the distribution of biodiversity. This work advances our understanding of biogeographic patterns of deep-sea chemosynthetic ecosystems, and provides a foundation to test the influence of various processes on the distribution of vent fauna at global scale.
Supervisor: Copley, Jonathan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available