UNRAVELING THE MYSTERY OF SEAMOUNT ENHANCED PRIMARY PRODUCTION: A GLOBAL ANALYSIS OF SATELLITE CHLOROPHYLL DATA AROUND SEAMOUNTS
Seamounts are generally considered biological hotspots with evidence for enhanced biomass, diversity, and abundances in both their benthic and pelagic communities. This ‘seamount effect’ led researchers to hypothesize that seamounts can enhance local primary production, but results from previous studies have been limited in time and space leaving questions about the ubiquity and persistence of these anomalies. Here we used a decade of ocean color data (2006 to 2016) from the NASA MODIS satellite to address these questions by examining monthly average surface chlorophyll patterns around a random representative subsample of global seamounts (n=177). We modeled the spatial and temporal variability around seamounts to find that surface chlorophyll enhancements are detectable on a monthly timescale. Further, modeling seamount-specific characteristics (depth, summit latitude and longitude, summit depth, elevation, estimated seamount area, and distance to the summit) shows that chlorophyll decreases with increasing distance from the seamount summit and decreases with increasing water depth. We also identify a possible depth limit to the seamount productivity effect and other seamount characteristics that can help predict which seamounts are most likely to act as biological hotspots via chlorophyll enhancement. Overall, these results provide evidence that shallow seamounts enhance local primary production on a monthly timescale, a sufficient length of time for this production enhancement to transfer to higher trophic levels and provide a food subsidy to seamount communities.
Leitner, A. B., University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA, email@example.com
Neuheimer, A. B., University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Drazen, J. C., University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA, email@example.com
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