Primary Consumers from Hydrothermal Vents Animal Communities

  • D. Desbruyeres
  • L. Laubier
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 12)


This paper reviews the present knowledge on the primary consumers from the hydrothermal vent community discovered in three different sites of the eastern Pacific (namely Galapagos ridge, East Pacific Rise at 21° N and 13° N). They display uniform ecological structure and zoological composition. Four major species of primary consumers dominate in term of biomass: the giant tube worm Riftia pachyptila, the large white clam Calyptogena magnifica, an undescribed mytilid musel and the Pompeii worm Alvinella pompejana. These species as well as some others primary consumers of minor importance are strictly linked with active hydrothermal vents, as shown by their spatial microdistribution surrounding the vents. In a way, the primary consumers of the hydrothermal community can be considered as having an r-type ecological strategy ? Large dispersal capabilities have been deduced in the case of the Galapagos mussel from the morphology of its larval shell. Actively swimming stages could also provide dispersal capability to the Pompeii worm.

Growth rates of bivalves have been studied using natural radionuclide shell content and direct growth measurement. Both methods show very high growth rates, from 1 to 4 centimeters per year as an average.

The luxuriance of the primary consumers from the hydrothermal community, as originally proposed in a preliminary hypothesis, comes from their ability to utilize the food source produced by chemosynthetic bacteria. Several approaches have been used including enzymological assays, histological investigations and radiogeochemical methods. At present, the most elaborate situation is probably the case of Riftia pachyptila, which possesses a special organ containing symbiotic chemoautotrophic bacteria. The energy transfer from chemosynthetic bacteria to primary consumers can also occurs in simpler ways in the case of other species.

At the boundary of the hydrothermal community, different types of ordinary deep-sea primary consumers are also found. Their abnormally high density can easily be explained by a hypothetical advective mechanism concentrating food particles.

The existing data are not sufficient to discuss the origin and antiquity of the strictly adapted primary consumers from hydrothermal vents, and future investigations in other suitable fast spreading centers would be of great interest.


Hydrothermal Vent Primary Consumer Larval Shell Guaymas Basin Hydrothermal Site 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Desbruyeres
    • 1
  • L. Laubier
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre Océanologique de BretagneBrest CédexFrance

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