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Scientific gear as a vector for non-native species at deep-sea hydrothermal vents


Voight, JR and Lee, RW and Reft, AJ and Bates, AE, Scientific gear as a vector for non-native species at deep-sea hydrothermal vents, Conservation Biology, 26, (5) pp. 938-942. ISSN 0888-8892 (2012) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 Society for Conservation Biology

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01864.x


The fauna of deep-sea hydrothermal vents are among the most isolated and inaccessible biological communities on Earth. Most vent sites can only be visited by subsea vehicles, which can and do move freely among these communities. Researchers assume individuals of the regionally homogeneous vent fauna are killed by the change in hydrostatic pressure the animals experience when the subsea vehicles, which collected them, rise to the surface. After an Alvin dive, we found 38 apparently healthy individuals of a vent limpet in a sample from a hydrothermally inactive area. Prompted by our identification of these specimens as Lepetodrilus gordensis, a species restricted to vents 635 km to the south of our dive site, we tested whether they were from a novel population or were contaminants from the dive made 36 h earlier. The 16S gene sequences, morphology, sex ratio, bacterial colonies, and stable isotopes uniformly indicated the specimens came from the previous dive. We cleaned the sampler, but assumed pressure changes would kill any organisms we did not remove and that the faunas of the 2 areas were nearly identical and disease-free. Our failure to completely clean the gear on the subsea vehicle meant we could have introduced the species and any diseases it carried to a novel location. Our findings suggest that the nearly inaccessible biological communities at deep-sea vents may be vulnerable to anthropogenic alteration, despite their extreme physical conditions.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Gorda Ridge, hydrothermal vent, Lepetodrilus, species introduction, stable isotope, subsea vehicle,Juan de Fuca Ridge
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Ecological applications
Research Field:Biosecurity science and invasive species ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in marine environments
UTAS Author:Bates, AE (Dr Amanda Bates)
ID Code:78343
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2012-06-22
Last Modified:2013-05-06
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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