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Mollusk death assemblages from the deep slope off northwestern Cuba (Gulf of Mexico)

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We evaluated the mollusk death assemblages along seven sites in a deepsea expedition off northwestern (NW) Cuba. We aimed to (1) provide the first baseline of mollusk diversity in sediments of the NW region, and (2) test if there were west-east gradients of α- and β-diversities. We found 141 species in sediments: 68 deepsea benthic, 43 shelf benthic, and 30 pelagic species. The richness of pelagic species was similar along the NW region indicating significant settlement of pteropod shells to the seabed. The occurrence of shelf species in the deepsea suggested a downslope transport of shells enhanced by the slope steepness and dredging in two ports. β-diversity of deepsea benthic mollusks showed a high turnover at local scales explained by habitat heterogeneity. β-diversity of pelagic species was extremely low suggesting that the planktonic assemblage was evenly distributed. In contrast, high β-diversity of shelf benthic species occurred likely due to downslope transportation of materials. Deepsea gastropods were mostly detritivores, while bivalves were mostly suspension feeders. These dominant biological traits indicated oligotrophic conditions in sediments likely coupled with an intense hydrodynamic regime in the deepsea. The NW Cuban region seems to be a hotspot for mollusk diversity because of the discovery in a single expedition of seven new species, 12 new records, and 36% endemism relative to the entire Gulf of Mexico. Our findings revealed a complex and diverse mix of deep/pelagic/shelf species but did not indicate a west-east gradient in the mollusk assemblage structure.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Posgrado en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Av. Ciudad Universitaria 3000, CP 04510, Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, Mexico; Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Circuito Exterior S/N, CP 04510, Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, Mexico 2: Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Circuito Exterior S/N, CP 04510, Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, Mexico; Centro de Investigaciones Marinas, Universidad de La Habana. 16 # 114, CP 11300, Playa, Habana, Cuba;, Email: [email protected] 3: Centro de Estudios Ambientales de Cienfuegos. Carretera Castillo de Jagua, CP 59350, Cienfuegos, Cuba 4: College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 Seventh Avenue South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701 5: Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Circuito Exterior S/N, CP 04510, Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, Mexico

Publication date: October 1, 2022

This article was made available online on August 10, 2022 as a Fast Track article with title: "Mollusk death assemblages from the deep slope off northwestern Cuba (Gulf of Mexico)".

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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