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15.1: Marine Communities in Benthic Environments

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    Marine Communities in Benthic Environments

    This chapter focuses on animals that are grouped as lower-level organisms in the benthic environment, specifically invertebrates —most of which are benthic animals that live attached on or near the seabed in the open ocean or coastal marine environments. The next Chapter 16 focuses on vertebrates and life in the pelagic environment.

    Review: General classifications of Living Things

    Taxonomy is the system of classifying and naming organisms (reviewed in Chapter 2). Carolus Linnaeus was first to development of a hierarchical system of classification of nature (biological organisms, present and past) .

    Today, this system includes seven taxa: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. (These are constantly being split into additional taxa levels as discoveries are made. Look at the example of humans.

    Taxa

    Example: Taxonomy of Humans

    kingdom kingdom: Animalia
    phylum phylum: Chordata
    (subphylum: vertebrata)
    class class: Mammalia
    (subclass: Theria)
    (Infraclass: Eutheria)
    order order: Primates
    (suborder: Anthropoidea)
    family (superfamily: Hominidae)
    family: Hominidae
    genus Homo
    species sapiens
    Domains of life
    Figure 16.1. Bioscientists are constantly reclassifying life forms as discoveries and new information becomes available. The term domain has been added to apply to super kingdoms subdivision status based largely on modern discoveries in microbiology - still under debate!This figure shows one of the more complex diagrams showing all the current know domains and lineages of life forms on Earth.

    Kingdoms of Life

    KINGDOMS Examples
    Monera Bacteria/algae (more complex classification of monera is illustrated in Figure 16.1)
    Protista Forams/amoebas
    Fungi Mushrooms, molds
    Plantea Ferns, mosses, flowering plants (all are Autotrophs, photosynthetic)
    Animalia

    includes Invertebrates and invertebrates (all are Heterotrophs)

    What is a Benthic Community?

    • A benthic community is an area where a group of marine organisms live and interact with each other on, near, or within the seafloor (or in any water setting including lakes and rivers).

    Benthic or benthos means “relating to, or occurring at the bottom of a body of water (oceans, lakes).“

    Benthic environments include:
    littoral (includes shore or nearshore)
    neritic (seabed in shallow ocean/continental shelf)
    limnetic (pertaining to lakes)
    estuarine (pertaining to transition from river to ocean settings)
    sub-littoral (Below the littoral zone to a depth of 200 meters)
    sub-neritic (below 200 meters, include continental slope, continental rise, abyssal plain and trench settings).

    Common shells from the New York City region
    Figure 15.1. Shells collections from shorelines reveal information about benthic communities.

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