Seasonal pathways of organic matter within the Avilés submarine canyon: Food web implications

Sonia Romero-Romero, Axayacatl Molina-Ramírez, Juan Höfer, Gerard Duineveld, Aitor Rumín-Caparrós, Anna Sanchez-Vidal, Miquel Canals, José Luis Acuña

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The transport and fate of organic matter (OM) sources within the Avilés submarine canyon (Cantabrian Sea, Southern Bay of Biscay) were studied using carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios. The isotopic composition of settling particles and deep bottom sediments closely resembled that of surface particulate OM, and there were no marked differences in the isotopic composition of settling particles inside and outside of the AC. This indicates that the Avilés Canyon (AC) receives inputs of sinking OM mostly from the upper water column and less through advective near-bottom down-canyon transport. Sinking OM fluxes are of marine and terrestrial origin in proportions which vary seasonally. Analysis of δ13C in the canyon fauna indicates a dependence on OM mainly produced by marine phytoplankton. A tight coupling of isotopic signatures between pelagic organisms and benthic suspension feeders reflects an active biological vertical transport of OM from the surface to the deep-sea. The food web presented seasonal variations in the trophic niche width and the amplitude of the primary carbon sources, reflecting seasonality in the availability of fresh particulate OM. Those seasonal changes are larger for benthic organisms of lower trophic levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Benthos
  • Food web
  • Nekton
  • Stable isotopes
  • Submarine canyon
  • Vertical flux


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