Ocean tides and winter surface storms are among the main factors driving the dynamics and spatial structure of marine coastal species, but the understanding of their impact on deep-sea and hydrothermal vent communities is still limited. Multidisciplinary deep-sea observatories offer an essential tool to study behavioural rhythms and interactions between hydrothermal community dynamics and environmental fluctuations. Here, we investigated whether species associated with a Ridgeia piscesae tubeworm vent assemblage respond to local ocean dynamics. By tracking variations in vent macrofaunal abundance at different temporal scales, we provide the first evidence that tides and winter surface storms influence the distribution patterns of mobile and non-symbiotic hydrothermal species (i.e. pycnogonids Sericosura sp. and Polynoidae polychaetes) at more than 2 km depth. Local ocean dynamics affected the mixing between hydrothermal fluid inputs and surrounding seawater, modifying the environmental conditions in vent habitats. We suggest that hydrothermal species respond to these habitat modifications by adjusting their behaviour to ensure optimal living conditions. This behaviour may reflect a specific adaptation of vent species to their highly variable habitat.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3723970.
- Received December 15, 2016.
- Accepted March 8, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.