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Lecture 20

01:460:120 Lecture 20: Lecture 20 - Benthic Communities

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Geological Sciences

Benthic Communities Key Concepts  Benthic organisms spend nearly all their lived on or in the ocean floor  Nearshore temperature habitats often include seaweeds, multicellular marine algae; unlike true plants, seaweed lacks vessels to conduct sap  Though among Earth's most rigorous habitats, high-energy rocky and sandy shores are heavily populated by diverse organisms able to take advantage of the abundant resources found there  The distributions of plants and animals living on rocky shores are strongly affected by physical and biological processes; these processes are less intense on sandy shores  The deep-sea floor is the ocean's most uniform habitat; it is populated by mostly small animals adapted to the low amounts of organic matter that settles through the water column  Animal communities found at hydrothermal vents on divergent plate boundaries are drastically different from typical deep-sea communities; geothermal energy at hydrothermal vents fuels an ecosystem based on chemosynthesis rather than photosynthesis Seaweed and Plants  Most benthic marine plants are multicellular algae  They are more related to phytoplankton than to land plants  >7,000 species Kelp  A brown alga; no leaf, stem, or root (why?)  One of the fastest growing plants on Earth o  Kelp forests provide habitat for other organisms o Like sea urchins  In some places, land plants (vascular plants) have re-colonized oceanic habitats  They all live in shallow, coastal water (why?) o They still need light to perform photosynthesis  Sea grasses and mangroves are the most conspicuous Mangroves  Prop roots provide anchorage for mangroves and habitat for animals  Distribution of kelp forests and mangroves varies with latitude Salt Marshes and Estuaries  An estuary is where fresh water and salt water mix  Muddy bottom, lower energy setting  Highest biomass per surface area of any marine community; high nutrients, high light levels  Estuaries are "nurseries," important for juvenile stages of many fish Biomass of benthic animals is greatest on continental shelves Benthic animal bio mass in the deep sea is generally low Although the rocky shore appears to be a difficult place for organisms to make a living, the intertidal zone - the band between the hi
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