Water Current and Plume Dispersal
A final consideration in the ICT ecosystem model is that of fluid topographies or landscapes. The tidally driven (bottom) water currents that disperse larvae and organisms over varying distances are constrained by ridge-crest topography, and the volatility of water flows caused by hydrothermal eruptions. Since the currents are variable, the timing of the release oflarvae and the duration of the planktonic phase (incubation) can greatly affect transport and direction in a linear field. This can be compared to new product launches in highly volatile technology markets where predictions of future directions are prevented by such issues as network effects and the ‘chicken and egg problem’ (Choudary 2015), barriers to entry (Porter 1979) and macro-environmental turbulence. Timing is also critical in these markets in order to exploit network externalities.
Although bottom currents, plumes and megaplumes disperse larvae, they also dilute and mix them (Lupton et al. 1985). An additional phenomenon known as mesoscale plume vortices have been observed in the field (Speer & Rona 1989) and also in laboratory demonstrations by Helfrich and Battisti (1991). These sources demonstrate the systems biology of the HTV ecosystems and their potential to aggregate and retain or transport pools of larvae over long distances (see Fig. 5.7). Vorticity in a hydrothermal vent plume occurs when cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies form above an axial valley hydrothermal vent on a mid-ocean ridge. Entrainment brings larvae into the anticyclonic plume vortex, from which they may sink and be carried back into the plume vortex, together with newly produced larvae (see Fig. 5.7). As vortices periodically shed from the plume, they may transport larvae as concentrated patches downstream.
Dispersal is not confined to the larval stage; on the East Pacific Rise, postlarvae species have been found to have dispersed to vent sites. For example, adult crabs have been found to scavenge their way for long distances over the sea floor from one vent field to another. These and other organisms that can walk or swim between vent sites are all from the post-larvae stage and include (see Table 5.2) Blind Crabs, Galatheid Crabs, Zoarcid fish and highly mobile
Fig. 5.7 Vortex eddying and the dispersal of larvae (Adapted from Van Dover: 2000) shrimp. These are often classed as marauders, who scavenge or behave in a predatory fashion. In the ICT ecosystem, those firms that are not able to incubate their own product innovations in-house or in an open-source manner might resort to equivalent predatory and scavenger strategies such as mergers and acquisitions (M&A) or what has also been referred to as external corporate venturing (Keil 2002). A recent term used to explain these types of strategy are ‘shoot-out’ acquisitions to purchase start-ups (newly incubated post-larvae organisms) with the aim of eliminating a potential rival (The Economist 2016: 13). Facebook’s purchase of Instagram and What’s App and its failed attempt to acquire Snapchat are examples of this form of predation.