Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Rapidly sinking fecal pellets are an important component of the vertical flux of particulate organic matter (POM) from the surface to the ocean's interior; however, few studies have examined the role fish play in this export. We determined abundance, size, prey composition, particulate organic carbon/nitrogen (POC/PON), and sinking rates of fecal pellets produced by a forage fish, likely the northern anchovy, in the Santa Barbara Channel. Pellet abundance ranged from 0.1-5.9 pellets m(-3). POC and PON contents averaged 21.7 mu g C pellet(-1) and 2.7 mu g N pellet(-1). The sinking rate averaged 787 m d(-1); thus pellets produced at the surface would reach the benthos (similar to 500 m) in m(-2) d(-1). This is equal to or exceeds previous measurements of sediment trap POM flux, and thus may transport significant amounts of repackaged surface material to depth.
ORGANIC-MATTER TRANSPORT; COPEPOD ACARTIA-TONSA; MARINE SNOW; CARBON FLUX; DOMOIC ACID; SOUTHERN-CALIFORNIA; REEF COMMUNITIES; MESOPELAGIC ZONE; NORTH PACIFIC; WATER COLUMN
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We thank Deborah Bronk, and the captain and crew of the R.V. Point Sur for field assistance, Evan Tyler at Monterey Bay Aquarium for collecting anchovy fecal pellets, Kevin Hill at National Marine Fisheries Service for sharing anchovy data, and Walker Smith for the use of his Elemental Combustion Analyzer to measure carbon and nitrogen content. The research was supported by the Biocomplexity Program of the U. S. National Science Foundation (OCE-0221825) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowship Program. EPA has not officially endorsed this publication and the views expressed herein may not reflect the views of the EPA. This manuscript is Contribution No. 3247 of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The College of William and Mary.
Saba, G.K. & Steinberg, D.K. Abundance, Composition, and Sinking Rates of Fish Fecal Pellets in the Santa Barbara Channel. Sci. Rep. 2, 716; DOI:10.1038/srep00716 (2012).