Metazoan meiobenthos along continental margins: a review

tsoltwedel [ at ]


The sediment-inhabiting meiofauna is a major component of benthic ecosystems, particularly in the deep sea. Knowledge on the deep-sea meiobenthos has increased considerably during recent decades, and attempts have been made to relate standing stocks with various environmental factors. The flux of organic matter from surface productivity to the seafloor has been proven to exert considerable control on benthic standing stocks. The energy content of sedimentating organic matter generally decreases with water depth due to degradation processes within the water column. Consequently, benthic standing stocks decrease with increasing water depth. Generally enhanced densities of benthic animals are to be expected in areas of increased surface production and subsequently enhanced flux of organic matter to the seafloor. Thus, meiobenthic densities and biomasses should show perceptible differences not only with water depth, but also between areas with different primary productivity in surface layers. The objective of this paper is to condense current information focusing on the abundance of metazoan meiofauna along continental margins, and to compare meiofauna stocks from various climatic regions of the world, representing areas of diverse productivity in the water column. Results clearly demonstrate regional differences on global scale: richer communities were generally found in areas with increased productivity and enhanced input of organic matter to the seafloor.

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Soltwedel, T. (2000): Metazoan meiobenthos along continental margins: a review , Progress in oceanography, 46 (1), pp. 59-84 .

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