Meiofaunal Biodiversity on Hydrothermal Seepage off Panarea (Aeolian Islands, Tyrrhenian Sea)
Meiofauna biodiversity was investigated at two sites in the submerged crater off Panarea (Aeolian Islands), characterised by different degree of hydrothermal seepage. At the first site, a gasohydrothermal seepage of a carbon dioxide and sulphide (mean 1.96 vol% H2S) was observed. The second site was characterised by a few centimetres deep layer of white colloidal sulphur deposits. At each site, two stations were sampled with high (H) and moderate (M) seeppage respectively, while a third station (C) with no hydrotermal activity was selected as control. Meiobenthic organisms were counted, sorted by taxa and copepods classified to species level. A very low number of all meiobenthic organisms was observed in the two stations with colloidal sulphur deposits. Copepods resulted to be the dominant taxon in both sites. Multivariate analyses showed significant differences in the copepod community structure both between sites and among stations within sites. Diversity indexes displayed significantly lower values at the two control stations. The coarse grain size can be invoked to explain copepod dominance. But intermediate disturbance due to gas bubbling seems to play a role in promoting copepod biodiversity. However sites of high deposition of colloidal sulphur, by clogging interstitial spaces, seem to create a prohibitive environment for meiobenthos.
KeywordsHydrothermal Vent Rose Bengal Colloidal Sulphur Station S12H Aeolian Island
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