Interactions between metazoans and large, agglutinating protozoans: implications for the community structure of deep-sea benthos

Citation:
Levin, LA.  1991.  Interactions between metazoans and large, agglutinating protozoans: implications for the community structure of deep-sea benthos. American Zoologist. 31:886-900.

Keywords:

abyssal ne atlantic, animal tubes, central north pacific, Foraminifera, harpacticoid copepod, hydrodynamic processes, infaunal xenophyophore, scale natural disturbance, sediment stability, xenophyophores protista

Abstract:

Large, agglutinating protozoans belonging to the Foraminiferida (suborder Astrorhizina) and the Xenophyophorea are conspicuous, often dominant faunal elements in the deep sea. A review of known and suspected interactions between these forms and metazoans reveals a potentially significant role for the protozoans in structuring deep-sea metazoan assemblages. Direct interactions include provision to metazoans of (a) hard or stable substratum, (b) refuge from predators or physical disturbance, and (c) access to enhanced dietary resources. In some instances, rhizopod tests may provide a nursery function. Xenophyophore modification of flow regimes, particle flux, bottom skin friction and sediment characteristics appear likely and are believed to account for altered composition and abundance of meiofauna and macrofauna in the vicinity of rhizopod tests. Some analogous interactions are observed between metazoans and biogenic sediment structures in shallow water. However, metazoan-rhizopod associations are hypothesized to be more highly developed and complex in the deep sea than are comparable shallow-water associations, due to rhizopod abilities to enhance scarce food resources and to low rates of disturbance in much of the deep sea. Agglutinating rhizopods appear to be a significant source of heterogeneity on the deep-sea floor and large tests often represent 'hotspots' of metazoan activity. As such, they are hypothesized to have contributed to the origin and maintenance of metazoan diversity in the deep sea by providing distinct microenvironments in which species can specialize.

Notes:

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