Authors: Suárez-Mozo, N.Y., Vidal-Martínez, V.M., Aguirre-Macedo, M.L., Pech, D., Guerra-Castro, E. y Simões, N.



Mollusk diversity in coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) has been studied extensively,
but this is not the case for deep-water habitats. We present the first quantitative characterization of
mollusks in shallow and deep waters of the Perdido Fold Belt. The data came from two research
cruises completed in 2017. Sediment samples were collected from 56 sites using a 0.25-m2 box corer.
We tested hypotheses about spatial patterns of α, β, and γ-diversity of bivalves in two water-depth
zones, the continental shelf (43–200 m) and bathyal zone (375–3563 m). A total of 301 bivalves
belonging to 39 species were identified. The two zones display similar levels of γ-diversity, but host
different bivalve assemblages. In general, α-diversity was higher on the continental shelf, whereas
β-diversity was higher in the bathyal zone. These patterns can be explained by the higher input
of carbon (energy) to the near-coast shelf zone, as well as by the greater topographic complexity
of habitats in the bathyal zone. These results enabled us to propose redirection of sampling efforts
for environmental characterization from continental zones to the deep-water zone, especially in the
context of environmental assessments during oil and gas exploration and production.

Keywords: bivalves, deep-sea fauna, species diversity, shelf and bathyal habitats, Gulf of Mexico