Fecal Pellets: Role in Sedimentation of Pelagic Diatoms

Science  01 Oct 1971:
Vol. 174, Issue 4004, pp. 55-57
DOI: 10.1126/science.174.4004.55


Membrane-enclosed fecal pellets of planktonic herbivores were sampled at several depths in the Baltic Sea (459 meters deep) and off Portugal (4000 meters deep) by means of a Simonsen multinet. Pellets contained mainly empty shells of planktonic diatoms and silicoflagellates. Two kinds of fecal pellets were found, those with the remains of one species (for example, Thalassiosira baltica) and those with the remains of several species (for example, Chaetoceros, Achnanthes, and Thalassiosira). Siliceous skeletons were protected from dissolution during settling by a membrane around the pellet.