Advances in Microbial Ecology by T. M. Fenchel, B. Barker Jørgensen (auth.), M. Alexander

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By T. M. Fenchel, B. Barker Jørgensen (auth.), M. Alexander (eds.)

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While these observations do not prove a mutualistic relationship, they are certainly suggestive. More recently, Detritus Food Chains of Aquatic Ecosystems 43 Prim and Lawrence (1975) have confirmed the presence of a bacterial flora of echinoids which attacks a number of algal polysaccharides. Since sea urchins are more handy than cows as experimental animals, they seem to be promising objects for further studies. The general absence of evidence like the one described for sea urchins for other, smaller herbivorous invertebrates may, as already indicated, be due to the lack of adequate studies, but it may also be real.

In planktonic systems, Detritus Food Chains of Aquatic Ecosystems 37 very little is known about the importance of protozoan grazing of bacteria; some planktonic protozoans are known to be bacterivorous, but their quantitative importance is totally unknown. 2. Meiofauna By meiofauna is meant benthic metazoa measuring less than 1 or 2 mm, and it includes groups such as rotifers, turbellarians, nematodes, gastrotrichs, tardigrades, harpacticoid copepods, and (small) oligochaetes. This heterogeneous assemblage of organisms undoubtedly plays a large role as a consumer of bacteria in nature.

In ruminants, the rumen system can roughly be compared to a chemostat with a turnover of about 24 hr. , 1975) and cannot, therefore, sustain an intestinal microflora in a similar way. The presence of mutualistic bacteria in aquatic vertebrates feeding on seagrasses (sea turtles, some fish, and manatees) could be predicted, but to our knowledge this has not yet been investigated. 6. 1. Measurements of Heterotrophic Bacterial Activity The increase in our quantitative knowledge of detritus food chains during the last years has been closely connected to the development of new experimental techniques.

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