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