Imagery and environmental data from 7 diffuse flow hydrothermal vent sites along the Eastern Lau Spreading Center (ELSC) are used to constrain the effects of lava type, temperature, chemistry, and biological interactions on faunal distributions. Of the species with chemoautotrophic endosymbionts, the snail Alviniconcha spp. occupies habitats with the greatest exposure to vent fluids. Temperatures exceeding 45°C define its upper limit of exposure to vent flow, and minimum sulfide requirements constrain its lower limits. The mussel Bathymodiolus brevior experiences the least exposure to vent flow; temperatures of about 20°C determine its upper limit, while its lower limit is defined by its minimum sulfide requirements. The snail Ifremeria nautilei inhabits areas with intermediate exposure to vent fluids and biological interactions are likely the most important factor shaping this snail's realized niche. Microhabitats of non-symbiont-containing fauna were defined in terms of symbiont-containing faunal distributions. The crab Austinograea spp. occupies areas with the greatest exposure to vent flow; shrimp, the snail Eosipho desbruyeresi, and anemones inhabit intermediate zones of vent flow; and the squat lobster Munidopsis lauensis dominates the periphery of diffuse flow areas, with little exposure to vent fluids. The physical structure of different lava types along the ELSC differentially affects the diffusion of vent fluids, which has a variety of implications for fauna, particularly distributions of zoanthids, anemones, and mixed communities of I. nautilei and B. brevior.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science