Some Ecological Perspectives in the Study of the Nutrition of Deposit Feeders

  • Kenneth R. Tenore
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes on Coastal and Estuarine Studies book series (COASTAL, volume 31)


Even after several decades of research on the ecology of marine deposit feeders we are still unsure about what are the food resources that are exploited and still debate what one regulatory mechanism controls distribution and abundance. Two observations, neither new nor startling, might help us to understand why we need knowledge of the nutritional needs of, and resources available to deposit feeders:
  1. 1.

    We have usually searched for a single limiting factor that controls all species’ distribution, abundance, and production rather than delineate the “interactive hierarchy” of several regulatory mechanisms.

  2. 2.

    We have often correlated and modeled point-in-time-specific, “snapshot” data of biotic units (individuals, populations, communities) with concomitant environmental physical/chemical controls; we have only played lip service to the varying time sequencing over which regulatory mechanisms exert influence, i.e., the density at which a population of a deposit feeder exists at a given point in time has been caused by conditions of different environmental factors at varying previous points in time. Although I believe that these observations are generic problems in ecological research, they are particularly relevant to questions about nutritional sources available to, and exploited by, deposit feeders. In this Chapter, I would like to explore the hierarchy of the regulatory mechanisms that, interactively, result in observed distributions, abundances, and production of a population of a deposit feeder. Specifically, where are, and are not, feedback regulatory mechanisms between levels of hierarchical controls and how should this affect our designing of experiments studying the ecology of deposit feeders.



Deposit Feeder Dead Organic Matter Feedback Regulatory Mechanism Potential Food Item Detritus Pool 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth R. Tenore
    • 1
  1. 1.Chesapeake Biological LaboratoryCenter for Environmental and Estuarine StudiesSolomonsUSA

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