Research Technical Report
Benthic Invertebrate Communities On Three Seamounts Off Southern and Central California, USA
Lundsten, L., J.P. Barry, G.M. Cailliet, D.A. Clague, A.P. DeVogelaere, and J.B. Geller (January 2009)
Marine Ecology Progress Series 374:23-32
Seamounts are unique and biologically productive deep-sea habitats that have often been described as having high levels of endemism, highly productive fisheries, and benthic communities vulnerable to trawl fishing. We describe the abundance and distribution of benthic megafaunal invertebrates found on 3 seamounts off central and southern California. Video observations were taken during 27 dives of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and were annotated in detail using the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute's (MBARI) video annotation reference system (VARS, http://vars.sourceforge.net/). Video analysis yielded 134,477 observations of 202 identified invertebrate taxa. Video transects were analyzed to quantify organism density. Thirteen new species were observed and collected. Invertebrate communities at Davidson and Pioneer Seamounts were dominated by passive suspension-feeding cnidarians (mostly corals), but at Rodriguez Seamount, a guyot, the invertebrate community was dominated by holothurian echinoderms. We found no evidence of endemism among the megafauna at these 3 seamounts, which are all in close proximity to each other and the continental margin.