Ecology of Deep Oceans: Hadal Trenches

Abstract

The majority of the Earth is covered by ocean which itself averages greater than 3500 m deep. It is comprised mainly of the vast deep ocean plains, which span a depth range of 2000–6000 m. The maximum depth of the ocean however is nearly 11 000 m deep. These extremely deep areas are a result of tectonic plate convergence where an oceanic plate is subducted beneath a neighbouring continental plate. This subduction forms extraordinarily deep trenches which comprise what is known as the ‘hadal zone’. The hadal zone (6000–11 000 m) is therefore encompassed by clusters of disjunct and often extremely isolated deep trenches and troughs. The morphology of these habitats had provided a setting where environmental conditions (hydrostatic pressure and food supply) differ greatly from the majority of the deep‐sea and has resulted in high levels of species endemism at the greatest depths.

Key Concepts:

  • The deepest biozone in the oceans is the hadal zone (6000–11 000 m deep).

  • The hadal zone is comprised mainly of deep trenches formed by tectonic convergence.

  • The trench environment is characterised by high hydrostatic pressure, low temperatures, the absence of light and a limited food supply.

  • Trench topography provides a unique setting with regard to food supply input because organic matter (food) is accumulated at the deepest trench axis.

  • High levels of species endemism are observed in trenches as a result of their geographical isolation.

  • Physiological adaptation to high pressure and low food supply is an essential prerequisite for survival in the trenches.

  • Most metazoan taxa are represented in these deep trenches.

  • Until recently, the technical challenges of studying the hadal zone were responsible for a dearth of information regarding the ecology at these depths.

  • Research into the ecology of the hadal zone is in its infancy relative to shallower biozones.

Keywords: hadal zone; trenches; deep‐sea; subduction zones; extreme environment; hydrostatic pressure

Figure 1.

Depth stratified biozones with distance from the shore. Vertical exaggeration is 50‐fold. Copyright © Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen, UK.

Figure 2.

Example of trench formation at convergence boundaries. As the Pacific Plate convergences and subducts beneath the Philippine Plate the Marianas Trench and Volcanic arc are formed. Copyright © Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen, UK.

Figure 3.

Examples of hadal fauna. (a) The decapod Benthesicymus crenatus at 6945 m, (b) unidentified snailfish (liparid) at 7049 m, (c) the holothurian Elpidia atakama at 8065 m, (d) unidentified Ophiuroid at 6500 m, (e) the amphipod Eurythenes gryllus from 7049 m and (f) the gastropod Tacita zenkevitchi from 6500 m. Copyright © Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen, UK.

close

References

Agassiz A and Mayer AG (1902) Reports on the scientific results of the expedition to the tropical Pacific in charge of Alexander Agassiz by the U.S. Fish Commission steamer ‘Albatross’ from August 1899 to March 1900. III. The Medusae, Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College 26: 139–176.

Angel MV (1982) Ocean Trench Conservation. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. The Environmentalist 2: 1–17.

Belyaev GM (1989) Deep‐Sea Ocean Trenches and their Fauna. Moscow: Naika Publishing House, 385pp.

Billett DSM, Bett BJ, Rice AL et al. (2001) Long‐term change in the megabenthos of the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (NE Atlantic). Progress in Oceanography 50: 325–348.

Blankenship LE and Levin LA (2007) Extreme food webs: Foraging strategies and diets of scavenging amphipods from the ocean's deepest 5 kilometres. Limnology and Oceanography 52(4): 1685–1697.

Blankenship LE, Yayanos AA, Cadien DB et al. (2006) Vertical zonation patterns of scavenging amphipods from the hadal zone of the Tonga and Kermadec Trenches. Deep‐Sea Research 53: 48–61.

Bowen AD, Yoerger DR and Taylor C (2008) The Nereus Hybrid Underwater Robotic Vehicle for Global Ocean Science Operations to 11 000 m Depth. OCEANS '08, IEEE/MTS Conference Proceedings, Quebec.

Bruun AF (1956) Animal life of the deep‐sea bottom. In: Bruun AF (ed.) The Galathea Deep Sea Expedition 1950–1952, pp. 149–195. London: George Allen and Unwin.

Danovaro R, Della Croce N, Dell'Anno A et al. (2003) A depocenter of organic matter at 7800 m depth in SE Pacific Ocean. Deep‐Sea Research I 50: 1411–1420.

De La Rocha CL and Passow U (2007) Factors influencing the sinking of POC and the efficiency of the biological carbon pump. Deep‐Sea Research II 54: 639–658.

Fisher RL (1954) On the sounding of trenches. Deep‐Sea Research 2: 48–58.

Forbes E (1844) Report on the Mollusca and Radiata of the Aegean Sea, and their distribution, Considered as Bearing on Geology. Report to the 13th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, pp. 30–193.

France SC (1993) Geographic variation among three isolated populations of the hadal amphipod Hirondellea gigas (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Lysianassoidea). Marine Ecology Progress Series 92: 277–287.

Fujii T, Jamieson AJ, Solan M et al. (2010) A large aggregation of liparids at 7703 m depth and a reappraisal of the abundance and diversity of hadal fish. BioScience 60(7): 506–515.

Fujikura K, Kojima S, Tamaki K et al. (1999) The deepest chemosynthesis‐based community yet discovered from the hadal zone, 7326 m deep, in the Japan Trench. Marine Ecology Press Series 190: 17–26.

Fujioka K, Takeuchi A, Horiuchi K et al. (1993) Constrated nature between landward and seaward slopes of the Japan Trench off Miyako, Northern Japan. Proceedings of JAMSTEC Symposium of Deep‐Sea Research 9: 1–26.

Gage JD and Tyler PA (1991) Deep‐Sea Biology: A Natural History of Organisms at the Deep‐Sea Floor. UK: Cambridge University Press.

Gebruk AV (1993) New records of elasipodid holothurians in the Atlantic sector of Antarctic and Subantarctic. Trudy Institute Okeanologii, USSSR 127: 228–244.

Hansen B (1957) Holothurioidea from depths exceeding 6000 metres. Galathea Report 2: 33–54.

Hessler RR, Ingram CL, Yayanos AA et al. (1978) Scavenging amphipods from the floor of the Philippine Trench. Deep Sea Research 25: 1029–1047.

Honjo S, Manganini SJ, Krishfield RA et al. (2008) Particulate organic carbon fluxes to the ocean interior and factors controlling the biological pump: A synthesis of global sediment trap programs since 1983. Progress in Oceanography 76: 217–285.

Itou M, Matsumura I and Noriki S (2000) A large flux of particulate matter in the deep Japan Trench observed just after the 1994 Sanriku‐Oki earthquake. Deep‐Sea Research I 47: 1987–1998.

Jamieson AJ, Fujii T, Mayor DJ et al. (2010) Hadal trenches: the ecology of the deepest places on Earth. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 25(3): 190–197.

Jamieson AJ, Fujii T, Solan M et al. (2009a) HADEEP: free‐falling landers to the deepest places on Earth. Marine Technology Society Journal 43(5): 151–159.

Jamieson AJ, Fujii T, Solan M et al. (2009b) Liparid and Macrourid fishes of the hadal zone: in situ observations of activity and feeding behaviour. Proceedings of the Royal Society Part B 276: 1037–1045.

Jamieson AJ, Fujii T, Solan M et al. (2009c) First findings of decapod crustacea in the hadal‐zone. Deep‐Sea Research I 56: 641–647.

Jamieson AJ, Kilgallen NM, Rowden AA et al. (2011) Bait‐attending fauna of the Kermadec Trench, SW Pacific Ocean: evidence for an ecotone across the abyssal‐hadal transition zone. Deep‐Sea Research I 58: 49–62.

Jamieson AJ, Lörz A‐N, Fujii T et al. (in press) In situ observations of trophic behaviour and locomotion of Princaxelia amphipods (Crustacea, Pardaliscidae) at hadal depths in four West Pacific Trenches. Journal of the Marine Biology Association of the United Kingdom.

Kato C, Li L, Nogi Y et al. (1998) Extremely barophilic bacteria isolated from the Mariana Trench, Challenger Deep, at a depth of 11 000 meters. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 64: 1510–1513.

Kaufmann RS and Smith KL (1997) Activity patterns of mobile epibenthic megafauna at an abyssal site in the eastern North Pacific: results from a 17‐month time‐lapse photographic study. Deep‐Sea Research 44: 559–579.

Kelly RH and Yancey PH (1999) High contents of trimethylamine oxide correlating with depth in deep‐sea teleost fishes, skates, and decapod crustaceans. Biology Bulletin 196: 18–25.

Longhurst A, Sathyendranath S, Patt T et al. (1995) An estimate of global primary production in the ocean from satellite radiometer data. Journal of Plankton Research 17(6): 1245–1271.

Madsen FJ (1956) Echinoidea, Asteroidea and Ophiuroidea from depths exceeding 6000 meters. Galathea Report 2: 23–32.

Momma H, Watanbe M, Hashimoto K et al. (2004) Loss of the full ocean depth ROV Kaiko, part 1: ROV Kaiko, a review. Proceedings of the 14th International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference 2: 191–193.

Nybelin O (1951) Introduction and station list. Reports of the Swedish Deep‐Sea Expedition. Vol. II. Zoology 1: 1–28.

Oji T, Ogawa Y, Hunter AW et al. (2009) Discovery of dense aggregations of stalked crinoids in Izu‐Ogasawara Trench, Japan. Zoological Science 26: 406–408.

Romankevich EA, Vetrov AA and Peresypkin VI (2009) Organic matter of the World Ocean. Russian Geology and Geophysics 50: 299–307.

Sabbatini A, Morigi C, Negri A et al. (2002) Soft‐shelled benthic foraminifera from a hadal site (7800 m water depth) in the Atacama Trench (SE Pacific): preliminary observations. Journal of Micropalaeontology 21: 131–135.

Seibel BA and Drazen JC (2007) The rate of metabolism in marine animals: environmental constraints, ecological demands and energetic opportunities. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 362: 2061–2078.

Smith CR and Demopoulos A (2003) Ecology of the deep Pacific Ocean floor. In: Tyler PA (ed.) Ecosystems of the World, Volume 28: Ecosystems of the Deep Ocean, 569pp. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Somero GN (1992) Adaptations to high hydrostatic pressure. Annual Review of Physiology 54: 557–577.

Stern RJ (2002) Subduction zones. Reviews of Geophysics 40: 3‐1–3‐38.

Todo Y, Kitazato H, Hashimoto J et al. (2005) Simple foraminifera flourish at the ocean's deepest point. Science 307: 689.

Vierros M, Cresswell I, Escobar Briones E et al. (2009) Global Open Oceans and Deep Seabed (GOODS) Biogeographic Classification. Paris: UNESCO‐IOC. Technical Series 84, 77pp.

Vinogradova NG, Gebruk AV and Romanov VN (1993) Some new data on the ultraabyssal fauna of the Orkney Trench. In: Klekowski RZ and Opalinski KW (eds) The Second Polish‐Soviet Antarctic Symposium, Arctowski' 91, pp. 213–221. Moscow: Institute of Ecology.

Wolff T (1960) The hadal community, an introduction. Deep Sea Research 6: 95–124.

Wolff T (1970) The concept of the hadal or ultra‐abyssal fauna. Deep Sea Research 17: 983–1003.

Yoshida H, Ishibashi S, Watanabe Y et al. (2009) The ABISMO mud and water sampling ROV for surveys at 10 000 m depth. Marine Technology Society Journal 43(5): 87–96.

Zenkevitch LA, Birstein YA and Beliaev GM (1955) Studies of Kuril‐Kamchatka Basin Benthic Fauna. Trudy Institute Okeanologii, USSSR 12: 345–381.

Further Reading

Bruun AF, Greve SV, Mielche H and Spärk R (1956) The Galathea Deep Sea Expedition. London: George Allen and Unwin.

Herring PJ (2002) The Biology of the Deep Ocean. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kunzig R (1999) Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science. London: Sort of Books.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Jamieson, Alan J(Oct 2011) Ecology of Deep Oceans: Hadal Trenches. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023606]