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Dietary carbon sources of mussels and tubeworms from Galápagos hydrothermal vents determined from tissue 14C activity

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The large quantities of reduced carbon that are required to support the filter-feeding mytilid mussels (Mytilus sp.), vesi-comyid clams (Calyptogena sp.) and various other animals in the Galápagos hydrothermal vent systems are thought to be derived from either the in situ synthesis of particulate organic matter by chemoautotrophic, sulphide-oxidizing bacteria1,2 or by the advection of sedimentary organic carbon into the vent environment from surrounding areas3,4. In contrast, the dense populations of vestimentiferan tubeworms (Riftia pachyptila), which lack mouth organs and digestive tracts, apparently utilize organic carbon synthesized by symbiotic chemoautotrophs5. We present evidence here, based on 14C activities and 13C/12C ratios, that the principal source of dietary carbon for mussels and tubeworms is derived from the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIOC) in the vent effluent waters. © 1981 Nature Publishing Group.

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