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Responses by Benthic Organisms to Inputs of Organic Material to the Ocean Floor: A Review [and Discussion}

A. J. Gooday, Carol M. Turley and J. A. Allen
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Vol. 331, No. 1616, The Deep Sea Bed: Its Physics, Chemistry and Biology (Jun. 19, 1990), pp. 119-138
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/53657
Page Count: 20
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Responses by Benthic Organisms to Inputs of Organic Material to the Ocean Floor: A Review [and Discussion}
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Abstract

Most of the photosynthetically produced organic material reaching the ocean-floor is transported as settling particles, among which larger particles such as faecal pellets and macroaggregates (marine snow) are particularly important. Recent studies in the northeastern Atlantic have demonstrated that macroaggregates originating from the euphotic zone settle at a rate of approximately 100-150 m d-1 to form a deposit (phytodetritus) on the sediment surface. Bacteria and protozoa (flagellates and foraminifers) rapidly colonize and multiply on phytodetritus, while large deposit feeding animals ingest it. Other inputs, for example Sargassum, wood and vertebrate carcasses, also evoke a rapid response by benthic organisms. However, the taxa that respond depend on the form of the organic material. The intermittent or seasonally pulsed nature of phytodetritus and many other inputs regulate the population dynamics and reproductive cycles of some responding species. These are often opportunists that are able to utilize ephemeral food resources and, therefore, undergo rapid fluctuations in population density. In addition, the patchy distribution of much of the organic material deposited on the ocean-floor probably plays a major role in structuring deep-sea benthic ecosystems.

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