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Open Access Research article

Biodiversity of nematode assemblages from the region of the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone, an area of commercial mining interest

P John D Lambshead1*, Caroline J Brown12, Timothy J Ferrero1, Lawrence E Hawkins2, Craig R Smith3 and Nicola J Mitchell1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, UK

2 Department of Oceanography, Southampton Oceanography Centre, Waterfront Campus, European Way, Southampton, SO14 3ZH, UK

3 Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1000 Pope Road, Honolulu, HI96822, USA

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BMC Ecology 2003, 3:1  doi:10.1186/1472-6785-3-1

Published: 9 January 2003

Abstract

Background

The possibility for commercial mining of deep-sea manganese nodules is currently under exploration in the abyssal Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone. Nematodes have potential for biomonitoring of the impact of commercial activity but the natural biodiversity is unknown. We investigate the feasibility of nematodes as biomonitoring organisms and give information about their natural biodiversity.

Results

The taxonomic composition (at family to genus level) of the nematode fauna in the abyssal Pacific is similar, but not identical to, the North Atlantic. Given the immature state of marine nematode taxonomy, it is not possible to comment on the commonality or otherwise of species between oceans. The between basin differences do not appear to be directly linked to current ecological factors. The abyssal Pacific region (including the Fracture Zone) could be divided into two biodiversity subregions that conform to variations in the linked factors of flux to the benthos and of sedimentary characteristics. Richer biodiversity is associated with areas of known phytodetritus input and higher organic-carbon flux. Despite high reported sample diversity, estimated regional diversity is less than 400 species.

Conclusion

The estimated regional diversity of the CCFZ is a tractable figure for biomonitoring of commercial activities in this region using marine nematodes, despite the immature taxonomy (i.e. most marine species have not been described) of the group. However, nematode ecology is in dire need of further study.