McClain said, "The part that really excites and puzzles me is that not all the wood falls were colonized at the same time. At the end of the experiment some wood was not bored or bored very little. This didn't reflect the placement, size, cut, or surface area of the logs. Basically it appears that the recruitment of larval clams into the wood fall was a nearly random process, even for logs that were just a few meters from one another."
The rate at which a wood fall is colonized makes a big difference to deep-sea organisms living nearby. The faster that a piece of wood is colonized, the more rapidly its organic matter is made available to non-wood-eating animals. Thus, hard woods or woods containing clam-repellent compounds, might last much longer than soft woods, and might provide less food for animals on the nearby seafloor.
Whatever the reason, these differences in colonization from one wood fall to another created a wide variety of habitats and animal communities over a relatively small patch of seafloor. Thus, this study adds to the growing body of evidence that, although the deep seafloor may look flat and uniform, its animal communities often vary considerably over both space and time.
|Contact: Kim Fulton-Bennett|
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute