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The ecology of marine microbenthos: 4. Structure and function of the benthic ecosystem, its chemical and physical factors and the microfauna communities with special reference to the ciliated Protoza
Fenchel, T. (1969). The ecology of marine microbenthos: 4. Structure and function of the benthic ecosystem, its chemical and physical factors and the microfauna communities with special reference to the ciliated Protoza. Ophelia 6: 1-182
In: Ophelia: International Journal of Marine Biology. Ophelia Publications: Helsingør. ISSN 0078-5326, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Benthos; Ecosystems; Marine ecology; Marine

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Abstract
    The paper describes the ecosystem constituted by marine sediments and their microflora and fauna but with special emphasis on the ecology of ciliated protozoa. This description is based on quantitative studies of the vertical and horizontal distribution of the fauna, the physicochemical factors (O2 H2 S, Eh, pH, grain size, organic matter, salinity) and the microflora, and on model experiments with artificial and natural sediments. Factors controlling the oxidation-reduction properties of sediments, the O2-uptake of reduced sediments and the respiration and photosynthesis of undisturbed sediments were studied. Among other things it is demonstrated that the microfaunal communities can be correlated with the oxidation-reduction properties of sediments and with their mechanical composition and that the end products of anaerobic decomposition (notably H2S) are of large trophic significance to the sediment ecosystem through the activity of chemo- and photoautotrophic bacteria. The energetic role of the microfauna in sediments is estimated; mostly, the respiration of the microfauna exceeds that of the macrofauna. In fine and medium sands the ciliates constitute the most important group among the microfauna.

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