Chemical ecology of deep-sea animals: Searching for food in the dark

Mario Tamburri, Ph.D.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Wednesday, July 14, 1999
3:00 p.m.—Pacific Forum

Tamburri.jpg (3195 bytes)While we are beginning to understand some of the mechanisms that regulate basic biological and ecological processes in many marine environments, little is known about animals living in the deep sea. As with all organisms, however, the ability to obtain nutrition will determine in large part the success and distributions of    deep-sea species.

During my postdoctoral fellowship at MBARI, I have begun to explore how chemosensory systems control the identification and location of food, and predator-prey interactions, in these vast, dark environments. I will discuss the results from a series of laboratory and in situ studies that examined adaptations of ecologically important consumers inhabiting both midwater (predatory planktonic cnidarians) and benthic (scavenging amphipods, gastropods, and fishes) deep-sea environments. These studies illustrate the critical role chemical signals play in mediating animal behavior and community dynamics within the largest habitats on earth.

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Last updated: December 19, 2000