benthic fauna

Simple study advances seafloor ecological modelling

Seabed community biomass seems to increase continuously with individual body weight

A new study carried out at the National Oceanography Centre challenges a long accepted theory about how the biomass of animals living at the seafloor increases as animal size increases.

Results show that the complex trends detected by conventional sampling methods may be artefacts, and that the true relationship may be much simpler – and therefore easier to predict.

Seabed biodiversity in oxygen minimum zones

Spider Crabs and Jelly Fish (credit: NOC/NERC)

Some regions of the deep ocean floor support abundant populations of organisms, despite being overlain by water that contains very little oxygen, according to an international study led by scientists at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. But global warming is likely to exacerbate oxygen depletion and thereby reduce biodiversity in these regions, they warn.

Deep sedimentation of acantharian cysts – a reproductive strategy?

Acantharian cyst (Patrick Martin SOES/NOCS)

Spore-like reproductive cysts of enigmatic organisms called acantharians rapidly sink from surface waters to the deep ocean in certain regions, according to new research.

Scientists suspect that this is part of an extraordinary reproductive strategy, which allows juveniles to exploit a seasonal food bonanza.

Echinoderms contribute to global carbon sink

Echinoderms such as brittle stars bury significant amounts of carbon at the seabed when they die and decay (credit: SERPENT Project)

The impact on levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere by the decaying remains of a group of marine creatures that includes starfish and sea urchin has been significantly underestimated, conclude scientists.