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dc.contributor.authorDavison, J
dc.contributor.authorvan Haren, H
dc.contributor.authorHosegood, PJ
dc.contributor.authorPiechaud, N
dc.contributor.authorHowell, K

Deep-sea sponge aggregations have been identified as potential Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems under United Nations General Assembly Resolution 61/105. Understanding the distribution of these habitats is critical to future spatial management efforts, and central to this understanding are quantitative data on the environmental drivers of that distribution. Accumulations of large suspension feeders are hypothesised to aggregate in regions of internal wave formation. The causal link is thought to be an increase in the supply of food related to the incidence of internal waves, which results in resuspension of particulate organic matter on which the sponges feed. There is, however, almost no empirical evidence to support this hypothesis for deep-sea sponge aggregations, although there is strong circumstantial evidence. We tested the relationship between sponge density and 1) temperature range (as a measure of internal wave presence in this region), and 2) optical backscatter (a measure of particulate flux) for a known sponge aggregation in the Faroe-Shetland Channel where internal wave interaction with the slope is further well-documented. 25 benthic video transects, ranging from 422 to 979 m water depth were conducted in the study region. 225 images were analysed and all taxa identified to morphotypes and quantified. Temperature and optical backscatter data were drawn from archived CTD data, and data from long term (4 months) and 2 seasonal short term (11 days) mooring deployments from the region. A generalised linear model was used to test the relationship between sponge density and temperature range (ΔT), and sponge density and optical backscatter. The results showed a statistically significant positive relationship between sponge density and temperature range, with the highest sponge densities occurring at depths of greatest temperature range. They showed a statistically significant positive relationship between sponge density and optical backscatter for long term and one short term seasonal deployment (Sep–Oct), but a weak negative relationship for the other short term mooring deployment (April-May). We conclude that sponge aggregations in the Faroe-Shetland Channel are associated with slope regions that are subjected to abrupt and pronounced changes in temperature due to intensified internal wave activity over the slope between depths of 400–600 and that lead to intensified near-bed currents and elevated resuspension of particulate. Our data provide empirical evidence of the relationship between internal wave processes and deep-sea sponge aggregations. These data modify current theory on drivers of deep sea sponge aggregation distribution, suggesting aggregations also occur directly within regions of internal wave breaking, rather than simply proximal to these regions.

dc.subjectInternal waves
dc.subjectSponge aggregations
dc.subjectMarine conservation
dc.titleThe distribution of deep-sea sponge aggregations (Porifera) in relation to oceanographic processes in the Faroe-Shetland Channel.
plymouth.journalDeep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers
plymouth.organisational-group/Plymouth/Faculty of Science and Engineering
plymouth.organisational-group/Plymouth/Faculty of Science and Engineering/School of Biological and Marine Sciences
plymouth.organisational-group/Plymouth/PRIMaRE Publications
plymouth.organisational-group/Plymouth/REF 2021 Researchers by UoA
plymouth.organisational-group/Plymouth/REF 2021 Researchers by UoA/UoA07 Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences
plymouth.organisational-group/Plymouth/Research Groups
plymouth.organisational-group/Plymouth/Research Groups/Marine Institute
plymouth.organisational-group/Plymouth/Users by role
plymouth.organisational-group/Plymouth/Users by role/Academics
plymouth.organisational-group/Plymouth/Users by role/Researchers in ResearchFish submission
dc.rights.embargoperiodNot known
rioxxterms.typeJournal Article/Review

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