Morphological responses of macrobenthic polychaetes to low oxygen on the Oman continental slope, NW Arabian Sea

Peter Lamont, John D Gage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Morphological adaptation to low dissolved oxygen consisting of enlarged respiratory surface area is described in polychaete species belonging to the family Spionidae from the Oman margin where the oxygen minimum zone impinges on the continental slope. Similar adaptation is suggested for species in the family Cossuridae. Such morphological adaptation apparently has not been previously recorded among polychaetes living in hypoxic conditions. The response consists of enlargement in size and branching of the branchiae relative to similar species living in normal levels of dissolved oxygen. Specimens were examined in benthic samples from different depths along a transect through the oxygen minimum zone. There was a highly significant trend shown to increasing respiratory area relative to body size in two undescribed spionid species with decreasing depth and oxygen within the OMZ, Yet the size and number of branchiae are often used as taxonomic characters. These within-species differences in size and number of branchiae may be a direct response by the phenotype to intensity of hypoxia. The alternative explanations are that they either reflect a pattern of differential post-settlement selection among a highly variable genotype, or represent early genetic differentiation among depth-isolated sub-populations. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-24
Number of pages16
JournalDEEP-SEA RES PT II
Volume47
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2000

Keywords

  • SPIONIDAE
  • MINIMUM
  • Oceanography
  • CHILE
  • HYPOXIC CONDITIONS
  • DECAPODA
  • SP FORM-A
  • SHELF

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