Diversity, Abundance and Community Structure of Benthic Macro- and Megafauna on the Beaufort Shelf and Slope

Date

2014

Authors

Nephin, Jessica
Juniper, S. Kim
Archambault, P.

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Journal ISSN

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Publisher

PLOS ONE

Abstract

Diversity and community patterns of macro- and megafauna were compared on the Canadian Beaufort shelf and slope. Faunal sampling collected 247 taxa from 48 stations with box core and trawl gear over the summers of 2009–2011 between 50 and 1,000 m in depth. Of the 80 macrofaunal and 167 megafaunal taxa, 23% were uniques, present at only one station. Rare taxa were found to increase proportional to total taxa richness and differ between the shelf (v 100 m) where they tended to be sparse and the slope where they were relatively abundant. The macrofauna principally comprised polychaetes with nephtyid polychaetes dominant on the shelf and maldanid polychaetes (up to 92% in relative abundance/station) dominant on the slope. The megafauna principally comprised echinoderms with Ophiocten sp. (up to 90% in relative abundance/station) dominant on the shelf and Ophiopleura sp. dominant on the slope. Macro- and megafauna had divergent patterns of abundance, taxa richness (a diversity) and b diversity. A greater degree of macrofaunal than megafaunal variation in abundance, richness and b diversity was explained by confounding factors: location (east-west), sampling year and the timing of sampling with respect to sea-ice conditions. Change in megafaunal abundance, richness and b diversity was greatest across the depth gradient, with total abundance and richness elevated on the shelf compared to the slope. We conclude that megafaunal slope taxa were differentiated from shelf taxa, as faunal replacement not nestedness appears to be the main driver of megafaunal b diversity across the depth gradient.

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Citation

Nephin, J., Juniper, S.K., & Archambault, P. (2014). Diversity, Abundance and Community Structure of Benthic Macro- and Megafauna on the Beaufort Shelf and Slope. PLos ONE, 9(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0101556