We choose to define detritivory operationally as the relatively frequent ingestion of particulate food whose bulk generally is not composed of animal, plant or bacterial protoplasm. Our definition does not preclude the possibility that a major fraction of a detritivore’s requirements for specific nutrients may be met from bacterial, plant or animal constituents (e.g. Anderson, 1976). We consider it largely an open and exciting question whether particular detritivores or the majority of detritivores under our rather inclusive definition meet their metabolic needs by (1) digesting and assimilating non-living detritus directly, (2) employing bacteria in external “gardening” or internal “rumination” to digest detritus, (3) digesting the normal bacterial component of detritus, (4) digesting plant (e.g. benthic diatom or fragmented macroalgal) protoplasm, (5) digesting the living or recently dead faunal components of detritus, or (6) utilizing some combination of these food sources. Within this potential continuum, are there “adaptive peaks” that allow natural functional grouping of detritivores for further investigation and generalization?
KeywordsSedimentation Radionuclide Assimilation Advection Bivalve
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