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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Autochthony and isotopic niches of benthic fauna at shallow-water hydrothermal vents

Wang, Teng-Wei; Lau, Danny C. P.; Chan, Tin-Yam; Chan, Benny K. K.


The food webs of shallow-water hydrothermal vents are supported by chemosynthetic and photosynthetic autotrophs. However, the relative importance of these two basal resources for benthic consumers and its changes along the physicochemical gradient caused by vent plumes are unknown. We used stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes (i.e., delta C-13 and delta N-15) and Bayesian mixing models to quantify the dietary contribution of basal resources to the benthic fauna at the shallow-water vents around Kueishan Island, Taiwan. Our results indicated that the food chains and consumer production at the shallow-water vents were mainly driven by photoautotrophs (total algal contribution: 26-54%) and zooplankton (19-34%) rather than by chemosynthetic production (total contribution: 14-26%). Intraspecific differences in the trophic support and isotopic niche of the benthic consumers along the physicochemical gradient were also evident. For instance, sea anemone Anthopleura sp. exhibited the greatest reliance on chemosynthetic bacteria (26%) and photoautotrophs (66%) near the vent openings, but zooplankton was its main diet in regions 150-300 m (32-49%) and 300-700 m (32-78%) away from the vent mouths. The vent-induced physicochemical gradient structures not only the community but also the trophic support and isotopic niche of vent consumers.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2022, volume: 12, number: 1, article number: 6248

Authors' information

Wang, Teng-Wei
National Chiayi University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Umeå University
Chan, Benny K. K.
Academia Sinica - Taiwan
Chan, Tin-Yam
National Taiwan Ocean University

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG14 Life below water

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