a1 Department of Zoology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2RD
One of the more recent aims of deep-sea biological investigations has been to assess the rates and processes involved in the recolonisation of deep-sea sediments by the in situ fauna (Grassle, 1977; Desbruyères etal., 1980, 1985; Levin & Smith, 1984). The spur to such initiatives has been the prospect of deep-sea mineral exploitation and the dumping of radioactive and other chemical wastes (Desbruyères etal., 1 985), in addition to the testing of hypotheses about deep-sea community regulation (Levin & Smith, 1984; Smith, 1986). These experiments have shown that perturbated or defaunated sediments incubated for periods of several months are readily recolonised by deep-sea animals, although the process is much slower than in comparable shallow-water situations (e.g. Levin, 1984; Zajac & Whitlach, 1982a, b). Furthermore, the resulting community of colonists may be quantitatively and qualitatively different from the ‘background’ fauna (Grassle, 1977; Levin & Smith, 1984). Similar experiments have examined the effect of large ‘food-parcels’ on the in situ sediments and fauna (Smith, 1986), and a review of the responses of benthic faunas to disturbed sediments has been published by Thistle (1981).