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Sinking rates and dissolution of midwater fish fecal matter

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The sinking rates of fecal matter from 7 southern California midwater fish species were investigated. Feces were obtained from 162 specimens of Stenobrachius leucopsarus, Triphoturus mexicanus, Leuroglossus stilbius, Lampanyctus ritteri, Argyropelecus affinis and Parvilux ingens, which were collected in the Santa Barbara and San Clemente Basins between 1977 and 1979. In addition, feces obtained from 6 laboratory-maintained specimens of the midwater zoarcid Melanostigma pammelas were used for repeated sinking-rate measurements. The mean of the measured sinking rates for all species was 1.19 cm s-1 (1 028 m d-1), which is much higher than the known descent rates of euphausiid and copepod fecal pellets and of most other particulate organic detritus. Dissolution characteristics were also investigated for fecal matter from 4 species collected by the same series of net hauls: S. leucopsarus, T. mexicanus, A. affinis, and Sternoptyx obscura. The release of dissolved organic compounds from this material is low and does not represent a significant output during the relatively short time required to sink through the water column. These findings suggest that midwater fish fecal matter may represent a major source of organic transfer between the pelagic community and the benthos.

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Communicated by N.D. Holland, La Jolla

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Robison, B.H., Bailey, T.G. Sinking rates and dissolution of midwater fish fecal matter. Mar. Biol. 65, 135–142 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00397077

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  • Organic Compound
  • Water Column
  • Fish Species
  • Detritus
  • Fecal Pellet