Is the Deep Sea on a Diet?

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Science  14 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5417, pp. 1139-1140
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5417.1139

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The survival of sea creatures depends on a delicate balance between food supply and food demand. In a Perspective, Druffel and Robison discuss a 7-year study, involving meticulous sampling of the deep ocean in the Northeastern Pacific, reported in this issue by Smith and Kaufmann. They posit reasons for a paradox revealed by the data: Although the food supply clearly declined, there did not seem to be a concomitant decrease in food demand. This suggests that deep-sea animal communities have not been affected so far by a reduction in nutrients. The Perspective also explores the implications of this food imbalance for the long-term survival of deep-sea animal communities.