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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-75
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-75
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 20 Mar 2020

Submitted as: research article | 20 Mar 2020

Review status
A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal BG and is expected to appear here in due course.

Characterizing deep-water oxygen variability and seafloor community responses using a novel autonomous lander

Natalya D. Gallo1,2,3, Kevin Hardy4, Nicholas C. Wegner2, Ashley Nicoll1, Haleigh Yang5, and Lisa A. Levin3,5 Natalya D. Gallo et al.
  • 1Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA
  • 2Fisheries Resources Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, 8901 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
  • 3Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA
  • 4Global Ocean Design LLC, 7955 Silverton Avenue Suite 1208, San Diego, CA 92126, USA
  • 5Integrative Oceanography Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA

Abstract. Studies on the impacts of climate change typically focus on changes to mean conditions. However, animals live in temporally variable environments which give rise to different exposure histories that could affect sensitivities to climate change. Ocean deoxygenation has been observed in nearshore, upper-slope depths in the Southern California Bight, but how these changes compared to the magnitude of natural O2 variability experienced by seafloor communities at short time-scales was unknown. We aimed to develop a low-cost and spatially flexible approach for studying nearshore, deep-sea ecosystems and monitoring deep-water oxygen variability and benthic community responses. Using a novel, autonomous hand-deployable Nanolander with an SBE MicroCAT and camera system, high-frequency environmental (O2, T, pHest) and seafloor community data were collected at depths between 100–400 m off San Diego, CA to characterize: timescales of natural environmental variability, changes in O2 variability with depth, and community responses to O2 variability. Oxygen variability was strongly linked to tidal processes, and contrary to expectation, oxygen variability did not decline linearly with depth. Depths of 200 and 400 m showed especially high O2 variability which may buffer communities at these depths to deoxygenation stress by exposing them to periods of relatively high O2 conditions across short time-scales (daily and weekly). Despite experiencing high O2 variability, seafloor communities showed limited responses to changing conditions at these shorter time-scales. Over 5-month timescales, some differences in seafloor communities may have been related to seasonal changes in the O2 regime. Overall, we found lower oxygen conditions to be associated with a transition from fish-dominated to invertebrate-dominated communities, suggesting this taxonomic shift may be a useful ecological indicator of hypoxia. Due to their small size and ease of use with small boats, hand-deployable Nanolanders can serve as a powerful capacity-building tool in data-poor regions for characterizing environmental variability and examining seafloor community sensitivity to climate-driven changes.

Natalya D. Gallo et al.

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Natalya D. Gallo et al.

Natalya D. Gallo et al.

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Latest update: 07 Jul 2020
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Short summary
Environmental exposure histories can affect organismal sensitivity to climate change and ocean deoxygenation. The natural variability of environmental conditions for nearshore deep-sea habitats is poorly known due to technological challenges. Here, we develop and test a novel, autonomous hand-deployable Nanolander outfitted with environmental sensors and a camera system, and use it to characterize high-frequency O2, Temp, and pHest variability at 100–400 m and seafloor community responses.
Environmental exposure histories can affect organismal sensitivity to climate change and ocean...
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