Crustal accretion and the hot vent ecosystem

S. Kim Juniper, Verena Tunnicliffe

Abstract

We examine evidence for links between seafloor spreading rate and properties of vent habitat most likely to influence species diversity and other ecosystem properties. Abundance of vent habitat along spreading centres appears positively related to spreading rate while habitat stability shows an opposite relationship. Habitat heterogeneity is lowest at faster spreading ridges. Limited data indicate an increasing species diversity with spreading rate, complicated by historical factors. Ecosystem productivity and efficiency of resource utilisation may also reflect diversity differences.

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