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Aggregation of Organic Matter by Pelagic Tunicates

Lawrence R. Pomeroy and Don Deibel
Limnology and Oceanography
Vol. 25, No. 4 (Jul., 1980), pp. 643-652
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2835752
Page Count: 10
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Aggregation of Organic Matter by Pelagic Tunicates
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Abstract

Three genera of pelagic tunicates were fed concentrates of natural seston and an axenic diatom culture. Fresh and up to 4-day-old feces resemble flocculent organic aggregates containing populations of microorganisms, as described from highly productive parts of the ocean, and older feces resemble the nearly sterile flocculent aggregates which are ubiquitous in surface waters. Fresh feces consist of partially digested phytoplankton and other inclusions in an amorphous gelatinous matrix. After 18-36 h, a population of large bacteria develops in the matrix and in some of the remains of phytoplankton contained in the feces. From 48-96 h, protozoan populations arise which consume the bacteria and sometimes the remains of the phytoplankton in the feces. Thereafter only a sparse population of microorganisms remains, and the particles begin to fragment. Water samples taken in or below dense populations of salps and doliolids contained greater numbers of flocculent aggregates than did samples from adjacent stations.

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