Seamount Life Is Unique Just Not In the Way We Thought

Image credit: (c) 2006 MBARI / NOAA  These this photograph shows three different types of sponges growing on the lava of Davidson Seamount: large yellow sponges, white frilly sponges, and white filamentous sponges which were previously thought to be a type of coral. The large yellow sponge provides a perch for several basket stars and pink shrimp.

Image credit: (c) 2006 MBARI / NOAA These this photograph shows three different types of sponges growing on the lava of Davidson Seamount: large yellow sponges, white frilly sponges, and white filamentous sponges which were previously thought to be a type of coral. The large yellow sponge provides a perch for several basket stars and pink shrimp.

About a month ago, I published my first paper at PLoS One. I believed an open access journal was the most appropriate place for the work so the group’s findings would be accessible to the public, scientists, conservationists, and policy makers.  I am delighted to say that this work, and the major finding of connectedness between the seamount and the surrounding deep sea, in part aided in efforts to include Davidson Seamount into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

I am delighted to see this work being discussed both locally at the Monterey Herald (Scientist See Movement of Marine Species) and internationally in a piece done for Conservation Magazine, a publication for the Society for Conservation Biology (A Seamount a Dozen).

Image credit: (c) 2006 MBARI / NOAA  These large yellow sponges are of an unknown species, but researchers on the cruise have been calling them "Picasso sponges" because of their wild shapes. The yellow sponges grow to almost one meter (three feet) tall. Like the corals on Davidson Seamount, the sponges feed on tiny particles suspended in the currents. Download a high-resolution version of this image.

Image credit: (c) 2006 MBARI / NOAA These large yellow sponges are of an unknown species, but researchers on the cruise have been calling them "Picasso sponges" because of their wild shapes. The yellow sponges grow to almost one meter (three feet) tall. Like the corals on Davidson Seamount, the sponges feed on tiny particles suspended in the currents.

Craig R. McClain, Lonny Lundsten, Micki Ream, James Barry, Andrew DeVogelaere (2009). Endemicity, Biogeography, Composition, and Community Structure On a Northeast Pacific Seamount PLoS ONE, 4 (1) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004141

Dr. M (1755 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.


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14 comments on “Seamount Life Is Unique Just Not In the Way We Thought
  1. Craig, you know I am a big fan of your work, especially this paper, but its a long way from shared species to “connectedness” don’t you think?

  2. Do you receive any “kickbacks”, à la “SCI points”, for publishing in an open access journal?

    BTW, the link leading to the article, is not working properly.

  3. It would be nice if the text on this page mentioned in what way “Seamount Life is Unique” or at least hinted which of the links actually has that information. The correct headline for this page is: “There is an article elsewhere about seamount life and there’s also another one.”

  4. I believe the presence of shared species implies connectedness, although the intensity and timescale of this connection remains an avenue for future research.

    All the links appear to be working. All the links will lead a reader to discussion of the paper (or the paper itself) that reveals the findings of the paper. The title is what some refer to as a teaser.

  5. I love that you guys put this out on PLoS ONE, I have no end to frustration when I can’t access half the papers of my Professors eventhe recent ones.

    This paper really does cut a leg off the support of SMEH, doesn’t it? I seem to recall some relatively similar results for the New England Seamounts which of course are in a totally different oceanographic scenario.

    Did you do any evaluations of communities based on depth and microhabitat type?

  6. The first link works for me now. I sure hope you changed something, or else my Foxy is acting up… again.

    I must say, your acronym for the hypothesis is pretty funny, possibly because the acronym is a word in Slovene and means “laughter”.

  7. Pingback: Deep Sea Fishing Impacts Sea Mounts » Eclectic Echoes

  8. I should have a paper out this year addressing depth and community structure on seamounts.

    Romunov, thanks for the info on the Slovene origins of the acronym

  9. Ooops, sorry bout that!
    Look forward to seeing it!
    I’m hoping to see stuff on the Corner Rise Seamounts coming out too, Dr. Shank has presented preliminary/summary stuff in a talk, but I don’t know of any papers.

  10. Johann,
    No not always. We’ve seen them on rocks, corals, and of course sponges. However, although I have no quantitative data to support this, their presence on sponges always seems to be a ‘sure bet’.

  11. The shrimp we saw on GoASEx Seamounts were Heptacarpus sp., abundant on the seafloor, sponges, and bubblegum corals ~700-800m. The most amazing thing to me is the shrimp eyes glow in the lights of the submersible, so you could perhaps estimate abundance if you wanted to.

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