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Climate, Food and Deep Sea Life
Changes in climate and food supply from the ocean surface can influence ecosystems on the deep sea floor, new findings suggest in the 23 July 2004 issue of the journal Science.
Henry Ruhl and colleagues monitored a community of sea cucumbers and other bottom-dwelling creatures in the northeast Pacific Ocean over a 14-year period that included a major El Niņo/La Niņa event from 1997 to 1999. The study site experiences seasonal pulses of organic particles sinking from the surface waters.
The authors found a correlation between food supply and the relative abundance of different species over this time period, suggesting that some taxa become more abundant when food supply increases, while other may be favored during deficits.
A major change in the sea cucumber community structure occurred in sync with the El Niņo/La Niņa event. Thus, animals "even in the most remote marine areas appear to be impacted by contemporary climatic fluctuations," authors write.
23 July 2004