Behaviour and habitat of <i>Neohela monstrosa</i> (Boeck, 1861) (Amphipoda: Corophiida) in Norwegian Sea deep water

<div><p>ABSTRACT</p><p>There are few in situ observations of deep-sea macrofauna, due to the remoteness of this ecosystem. Visual surveys conducted for marine management by MAREANO, (marine area database for Norwegian waters) and the petroleum industry (by SERPENTS, scientific and environmental remotely operated vehicle partnership using existing industrial technology) have provided unique material of visual information from large areas in the Norwegian Sea. The distribution, density and behaviour of the deep-sea amphipod <i>Neohela monstrosa</i> (Boeck, 1861) is described based on videos and samples from the Norwegian Sea. This amphipod is common on mud bottoms at 200–2181 m depth in the area. Dense communities were found in stands of the arctic sea pen <i>Umbellula encrinus</i> at more than 1000 m depth where temperatures were below 0° C. The mean density of <i>N. monstrosa</i> observed for larger areas was 4/100 m<sup>2</sup> but densities of 15–36 individuals per m<sup>2</sup> were found in local patches. It is domicolous which is characteristic of the superfamily Corophiida and digs burrows in soft muddy bottoms primarily by using large shovel-like gnathopods to scoop the sediment out. The amphipod was observed pushing and rolling sediment balls out of its burrow, which were probably held together with amphipod silk. It digs out an upper 3 to 4 cm wide burrow with a horizontal side burrow a couple of centimetres down. <i>Neohela monstrosa</i> appears to feeds on newly settled detritus that it collects from the surface sediment through the use of its long antennae while the burrow is mainly used for protection against predators such as demersal fish. Newly released juveniles are probably kept in the burrow for protection. Based on the local high density of <i>N. monstrosa</i> together with its habit of making long burrows, we suggest that there is significant bioturbation associated with the presence of <i>N. monstrosa</i> in deep sedimentary habitats of the Norwegian Sea, which likely provides an important ecosystem function.</p></div>