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Miguez-Salas et al., 2024a

Diversity and density relationships between lebensspuren and tracemaking organisms: a study case from abyssal northwest Pacific

Miguez-Salas, O., Brandt, A., Knauber, H., Riehl, T.
Typearticle in journal


In the deep sea, interactions between benthic fauna and seafloor sediment primarily occur through biotur-bation that can be preserved as traces (i.e. lebensspuren). Lebensspuren are common features of deep-sea landscapes and are more abundant than the organisms that produce them (i.e. tracemakers), rendering lebensspuren promising proxies for inferring biodiversity. The density and diversity relationships between lebensspuren and benthic fauna remain unclear, and contradicting correlations have been proposed (i.e. negative, positive, or even null correlations). To approach these variable correlations, lebensspuren and benthic fauna were characterized taxonomically at eight deep-sea stations in the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench area, together with two novel categories: tracemakers (specific epibenthic fauna that produce these traces) and degrading fauna (benthic fauna that can erase lebensspuren). No general correlation (overall study area) was observed between diversities of lebensspuren, tracemakers, degrading fauna, and fauna. However, a diversity correlation was observed at specific stations, showing both negative and positive correlations depending on: (1) the number of unknown tracemakers (especially significant for dwelling lebensspuren); (2) the lebensspuren with multiple origins; and (3) tracemakers that can produce different lebensspuren. Lebensspuren and faunal density were not correlated. However , lebensspuren density was either positively or negatively correlated with tracemaker densities, depending on the lebensspuren morphotypes. A positive correlation was observed for resting lebensspuren (e.g. ophiuroid impressions , Actiniaria circular impressions), while negative correlations were observed for locomotion-feeding lebensspuren (e.g. echinoid trails). In conclusion, lebensspuren diversity may be a good proxy for tracemaker biodiversity when the lebensspuren-tracemaker relationship can be reliable characterized. Lebensspuren-density correlations vary depending on the specific lebensspuren residence time, tracemaker density, and associated behaviour (rate of movement). Overall , we suggest that lebensspuren density and diversity correlations should be studied with tracemakers rather than with general benthic fauna. On a global scale, abiotic (e.g. hy-drodynamics, substrate consistency) and other biotic factors (e.g. microbial degradation) may also play an important role.

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