Marine Snow: What It Is and How It Affects Ecosystem Functioning
Particulate “snow” is a common feature of marine and fresh waters. Formed by both biological and physical processes, it is a short-lived home for pelagic and substrate-adapted organisms. Snow communities are often dense, serving as important foraging centers for small consumers. The particle matrix is a chemically distinctive microenvironment and a site of intense photosynthesis and mineralization. Sinking snow may also transport its associated populations to depth. The distinctive benthic-like nature of the snow habitat appears to have promoted the evolution of a fauna that adds species diversity to pelagic communities.
KeywordsBiomass Respiration Photosynthesis Advection Detritus
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