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A Margin subject to an unusual thermal regime

Research undertaken on the macrofauna in the Faroe-Shetland Channel found that although the extreme thermal regime dominates the ecology along this margin, habitat heterogeneity plays a significant role at the local habitat scale in influencing faunal diversity and composition.

The main objective of this study was to assess variations in macrofaunal diversity and composition along two transects to gauge the relative influence of regional hydrography and local habitat heterogeneity. Although the two transects are situated along the same continental margin and span the same depth horizon (150-1000 m), there are differences in macrofaunal diversity and composition. The researchers found that macrofaunal richness and diversity along the West of Shetland transect correlated most strongly with temperature range, defra photo brittlestarwhilst further north along the North of Shetland transect sedimentary variables, notably total organic carbon, correlated most strongly with diversity.
The paper was the outcome of the Census of Marine Life’s Continental Margin Ecosystems workshop organised by Professor Lisa Levin of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.


Boulders covered with yellow feather stars, brittle stars and anemones from the Wyville Thomson Ridge. Copyright DTI/DEFRA

Narayanaswamy BE, Bett BJ & Hughes DJ (2010) Deep-water macrofaunal diversity in the Faroe-Shetland region (NE Atlantic): a margin subject to an unusual thermal regime. Marine Ecology Special Issue. 31: 237-246. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0485.2010.00360.x

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