Biology and Ecological Functioning
The relatively recent advent of SCUBA diving and underwater video as
research techniques means that our understanding of the ecology of subtidal communities
lags far behind that gained in the far more accessible intertidal zone. This is especially
true for the biotopes considered here, in which many of the principal species live a
cryptic existence within the bottom sediments. There are still many gaps in our knowledge
of the basic biology of many of the most important megafaunal burrowers, while the British
sea pens have hardly been studied at all in the field. The community ecology of subtidal
sediment biotopes - the interactions between the different species, and between the
animals and their environment - is still barely known, and there is no body of data
comparable to those relating to intensively-studied environments such as rocky shores.
This chapter will review and summarize what is known of the ecological functioning of this
biotope complex. The burrow form and basic feeding biology of the megafauna have been
described briefly elsewhere.
Biology of the major characterizing species
Community ecology: interactions between species