Skip to main content

A study of a marine benthic community with special reference to the micro-organisms

  • Molly F. Mare (a1)

An attempt has been made to deal briefly but quantitatively with all size groups of the fauna and flora in a marine mud deposit.

It has been necessary to propose the following new terminology: the Macrobenthos, which is here equivalent to the macrofauna, the Meiobenthos, under which term are included copepods, nematodes, foraminifera, etc., and the Microbenthos, comprising the rest of the protozoa, bacteria, bottom diatoms and other algae; planktonic diatoms and coloured flagellates also occur on the bottom in the region investigated but are not regarded as true microbenthos.

A quantitative ecological study of the microbenthos has been started and the habitat is first described, stress being laid on points of importance to the microorganisms.

The census method for bacteria was an agar-plate method and that for the protozoa and diatoms was a dilution culture method modified from that used by soil microbiologists.

These methods give minimal values for the total population and may safely be used for comparative purposes. The results are still tentative.

Typical figures for the minimal numbers and volumes of living protoplasm per gram of dry mud in the top ½ cm. layer are given in Tables I-IV.

The surface layer is much richer in all types of organisms than is the mud deeper in the cores. There is considerable local horizontal variation in numbers of bacteria and protozoa, suggesting dense aggregations.

Diatoms contribute by far the greatest bulk to the total volume of living micro-organisms; planktonic diatoms, particularly during the summer, completely outweigh the true microbenthos.

Hide All
Anderson, D. Q., 1939. Distribution of organic matter in marine sediments and its availability to further decomposition. Journ. Mar. Research, Vol. II, p. 225–35.
Baier, C. R., 1935. Studien zur Hydrobakteriologie stehender Binnengewässer. Archiv Hydrobiol., Bd. XXIX, pp. 183264.
Blegvad, H., 1914. Food and conditions of nourishment among the communities of invertebrate animals found on or in the sea bottom in Danish waters. Rep. Dan. Biol. Stat., Vol. XXII, pp. 4178.
Bornebusch, C. H., 1930. The fauna of forest soils. Forstliche Versuchswesen in Dänemark, Bd. XI.
Boysen, Jensen P., 1914. Studies concerning the organic matter of the sea bottom. Rep. Dan. Biol. Stat., Vol. XXII, pp. 139.
Boysen, Jensen P., 1919. Valuation of the Limfjord I. Rep. Dan. Biol. Stat., Vol. XXVI, pp. 144.
Cook, R. P. & Haldane, J. B. S., 1931. The respiration of B. coli communis. Biochem. Journ., Vol. XXV, pp. 880–7.
Cutler, D. W., 1920. A method for estimating the numbers of active protozoa in the soil. Journ. Agric. Sci., Vol. X, pp. 135–43.
Cutler, D. W. & Crump, L. M., 1924. The rate of reproduction in artificial culture of Colpidium colpoda. Part III. Biochem. Journ., Vol. XVIII, pp. 905–12.
Cutler, D. W., 1929. Carbon dioxide production in sands and soils in the presence and absence of amoebae. Ann. Appl. Biol., Vol. XVI, pp. 472–82.
Cutler, D. W., Crump, L. M. & Sandon, H., 1922. A quantitative investigation of the bacterial and protozoan population of the soil with an account of the protozoan fauna. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc., B, Vol. 211, pp. 317–50.
Deevey, E. S. Jr, 1941. Limnological studies in Connecticut. VI. The quantity and composition of the bottom fauna of thirty-six Connecticut and New York Lakes. Ecol. Monogr., Vol. 11, pp. 413–55.
Ford, E., 1923. Animal communities of the level sea bottom in the waters adjacent to Plymouth. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XIII, pp. 164224.
Fox, D. L., 1937. Carotenoids and other lipoid soluble pigments in the sea and deep marine muds. Proc. Nation. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., Vol. 23, pp. 295301.
Gardiner, A. C., 1937. Phosphate production by planktonic animals. Journ. Cons. Int. Explor. Mer., Vol. XII, pp. 144–6.
Gause, G. F., 1934. The Struggle for Existence.
Griessmann, K., 1914. Über marine Flagellaten. Archiv f. Protistenk., Bd. 33, pp. 178.
Gross, F., 1937. Notes on the culture of some marine plankton organisms. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XXI, pp. 753–68.
Harvey, H. W., 1939. Substances controlling the growth of a diatom. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XXIII, pp. 499520.
Harvey, H. W., 1940. Nitrogen and phosphorus required for the growth of phytoplankton. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XXIV, pp. 115–24.
Harvey, H. W., 1942. Production of life in the sea. Biol. Rev., Vol. 17, pp. 221–46.
Harvey, H. W., Cooper, L. H. N., Lebour, M. V. and Russell, F. S., 1935. Plankton production and its control. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XX, pp. 407–41.
Heilbrunn, L. V., 1937. An Outline of General Physiology.
Hunt, O. D., 1925. The food of the bottom fauna of the Plymouth fishing grounds. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XIII, pp. 560–99.
Hunt, O. D., 1926. A new method for quantitative sampling of the sea bottom. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XIV, pp. 529–34.
Jenkin, P. M., 1937. Oxygen production by the diatom Coscinodiscus excentricus Ehr. in relation to submarine illumination in the English Channel. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XXII, pp. 301–43.
Juday, C., 1940. The annual energy budget of an inland lake. Ecology, Vol. 21, pp. 438–50.
Kahl, A., 1935. Die Tierwelt Deutschlands. Protozoa. I. Wimpertiere oder Ciliata (Infusoria), pp. 1886.
Krogh, A., 1916. The Respiratory Exchange of Animals and Man. Monographs in Biochemistry.
Krogh, A. & Spärck, R., 1936. On a new bottom sampler for investigation of the microfauna of the sea bottom—with remarks on the quantity and significance of the benthonic microfauna. K. danske vidensk. Selsk. Biol. Medd., Vol. XIII, 4, pp. 312.
Lackey, J. B., 1936. Occurrence and distribution of the marine protozoan species in the Woods Hole area. Biol. Bull., Vol. LXX, pp. 264–78.
Lebour, M. V., 1922. The food of plankton organisms. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XII, pp. 644–77.
Lebour, M. V. 1930. The Planktonic Diatoms of Northern Seas. Ray Society, London.
Lemmermann, E., 1914. Die Süsswasser-flora Deutschlands, Österreichs und der Schweiz. Heft I. Flagellatae I. Pantostomatinae, Protomastiginae, Distomatinae.
Lloyd, B., 1931. Muds ofthe Clyde Sea area. II. Bacterial Content. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XVII, pp. 751–66.
Lohmann, H., 1908. Untersuchungen zur Feststellung des vollständigen Gehalts des Meeres an Plankton. Wiss. Meeresuntersuch. Abt. Kiel, N.F., Bd. X, pp. 131370.
Lohmann, H., 1911. Über das Nannoplankton und die Zentrifugierung kleinster Wasserproben zur Gewinnung desselben im lebendem Zustande. Int. Rev. Hydrobiol., Bd. IV, pp. 138.
Macginitie, G. E., 1932. The rôle of bacteria as food for bottom animals. Science, Vol. 76, p. 490.
Mare, M. F., 1940. Plankton production off Plymouth and the mouth of the English Channel in 1939. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XXIV, pp. 461–82.
Mare, M. F., The Significance of Micro-organisms and Organic Detritus in the Food Chains of a Marine Benthic Community. Unpublished thesis.
Marine Biological Association, 1931. Plymouth Marine Fauna (2nd edition).
Meiklejohn, J., 1930. The relation between the numbers of a soil bacterium and the ammonia produced by it in peptone solutions; with some reference to the effect on this process of the presence of amoebae. Ann. App. Biol., Vol. XVIL, pp. 614–37.
Meiklejohn, J., 1932. The effect of Colpidium on ammonia production by soil bacteria. Ann. App. Biol., Vol. XIX, pp. 584608.
Moore, G. M., 1939. A limnological investigation of the microscopic benthic fauna of Douglas Lake, Michigan. Ecol. Monogr., Vol. 9, pp. 537–82.
Moore, H. B., 1931. Muds of the Clyde Sea area. III. Chemical and physical conditions; Rate and nature of sedimentation; and Fauna. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XVII, pp. 325–58.
Moore, H. B. & Neill, R. G., 1930. An instrument for sampling marine muds. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XVI, pp. 589–94.
Orton, J. H., 1914. On some Plymouth holothurians. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. X, pp. 211–35.
Pennak, R. W., 1940. Ecology of the microscopic metazoa inhabiting the sandy beaches of some Wisconsin Lakes. Ecol. Monogr., Vol. 10, pp. 537615.
Petersen, C. G. J., 1915. A preliminary result of the investigations on the valuation of the sea. Rep. Dan. Biol. Stat., Vol. XXIII, pp. 2932.
Petersen, C. G. J., 1918. The sea bottom and its production of fish food. Rep. Dan. Biol. Stat., Vol. XXV, pp. 162.
Petersen, C. G. J. & Boysen Jensen, P., 1911. Valuation of the sea. I. Animal life on the sea-bottom, its food and quantity. Rep. Dan. Biol. Stat., Vol. XX, pp. 379
Picken, L. E. R., 1937. The structure of some protozoan communities. Journ. Ecol., Vol. XXV, pp. 368–84.
Poole, H. H. & Atkins, W. R. G., 1929. Photo-electric measurements of submarine illumination throughout the year. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XVI, pp. 297324.
RAWSON, D. S., 1930. The bottom fauna of Lake Simcoe and its role in the ecology of the lake. Univ. Toronto Stud. Biol. Ser. XXXIV. Pub. Ontario Fish Res. Lab., Vol. 40, pp. 1183.
Rees, C. B., 1940. A preliminary study of the ecology of a mud-flat. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XXIV, pp. 185–99.
Remane, A., 1933. Verteilung und Organisation der benthonischen Mikrofauna der Kieler Bucht. Wiss. Meeresuntersuch., Abt. Kiel, N.F., Bd. XXI, pp. 161222.
Reuszer, H. W., 1933. Marine bacteria and their rôle in the cycle of life in the sea. III. Distribution of bacteria in the ocean waters and muds about Cape Cod. Biol. Bull., Vol. 65, pp. 480–97.
Sandon, H., 1932. The Food of Protozoa. Pub. Faculty of Science, Egyptian Univ., Cairo.
Singh, B. N., 1941. Selectivity in bacterial food by soil amoebae in pure mixed culture and in sterilized soil. Ann. App. Biol., Vol. 28, pp. 5264.
Smith, J. E., 1932. The shell gravel deposits and infauna of the Eddystone grounds. Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc., Vol. XVIII, pp. 243–78.
Sparrow, F. K. Jr, 1937. The occurrence of saprophytic fungi in marine muds. Biol. Bull., Vol. 73, pp. 242–8.
Thamdrup, H. M., 1935. Beiträge zur Ökologie der Wattenfauna auf experimenteller Grundlage. Medd. Komm. Havundersog. Kbh. Serie Fisk., Bd. X, pp. 1125.
Trask, P. D. 1932. The Origin and Environment of Source Sediments of Petroleum. Pub. Amer. Assoc. Petrol. Geol.
Waksman, S. A., 1933. On the distribution of organic matter in the sea bottom and the chemical nature and origin of marine humus. Soil Science, Vol. 36, pp. 125–47.
Waksman, S. A. & Carey, C. L., 1935. Decomposition of organic matter in sea water. I, Bacterial multiplication in stored sea water. Journ. Bact., Vol. 29, pp. 531–43.
Waksman, S. A. & Hotchkiss, M., 1937. Viability of bacteria in sea water. Journ. Bact., Vol. 33, pp. 389400.
Waksman, S. A. 1938. On the oxidation of organic matter in marine sediments by bacteria. Journ. Mar. Research, Vol. 1, pp. 101–18.
Waksman, S. A., Reuszer, H. W., Carey, C. L., Hotchkiss, M. & Renn, C. E., 1933. Studies on the biology and chemistry of the Gulf of Maine. III. Bacteriological investigations of the sea water and marine bottoms. Biol. Bull., Vol. 64, pp. 183205.
Zobell, C. E., 1939. Occurrence and activity of bacteria in marine sediments. In Recent Marine Sediments. Pub. Amer. Assoc. Petrol. Geol.
Zobell, C. E. & Anderson, D. Q., 1936. Vertical distribution of bacteria in marine sediments. Bull. Amer. Assoc. Petrol. Geol., Vol. 20, pp. 258–69.
Zobell, C. E. & Feltham, C. B., 1938. Bacteria as food for certain marine invertebrates. Journ. Mar. Research, Vol. I, pp. 312–27.
Zobell, C. E. 1942. The bacterial flora of a marine mud flat as an ecological factor. Ecology, Vol. 23, pp. 6978.
Zobell, C. E. & Rittenberg, S. C., 1938. The occurrence and characteristics of chitinoclastic bacteria in the sea. Journ. Bact., Vol. XXXV, pp. 275–87.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed