Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wood: Is It What's For Dinner?

Scientists Craig McClain and James Barry are researching the carbon sequestration that occurs when trees fall into the ocean (called a wood fall). This involves studying the marine creatures that eat the wood. McClain describes the experiment you see in this video.
In 2006, Jim Barry (Monterey Bay Aquarium) and I chunked 36 logs overboard to begin to examine wood fall communities. Chunked may be a strong verb for sending them down on a benthic elevator. Once on the bottom, a remotely operated vehicle dispersed them over a 1600 square foot area now affectionately referred to as Deadwood. In 2011 and 2013, we retrieved these wood falls. On the surface, I and others picked through the once solid but now bore-riddled and crumbling logs for Xylophaga, limpets, worms, snails, and other wee beasties. As we picked through the rotting wood carcasses, my level of excitement was only matched by the sulfidic, rotten egg, stench of decomposition.
The process is presented here in a souped-up musical video that is as entertaining as it is informative. McClain and Barry’s future plans involve a collaboration with David Hong of Duke University to analyze isotope compositions of the marine life that eats wood to construct a “food web” of the wood fall community.(via Metafilter)

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