Additional Participants


Michael Bock

Graduate Student

Ian Voparil

Technician, Programmer

Linda Schick

Organizational Partners

University of Washington
State University of New York at Stony Brook

Other Collaborators or Contacts

Peter Jumars
Glenn Lopez

Project Period

April 1, 1997-May 31, 2002

Level of Access

Open-Access Report

Grant Number


Submission Date



Deposit feeders play several important roles in determining whether organic material is demineralized or buried. These animals function to make surfaces available for microbial growth and move particles both horizontally and vertically within the seabed at a pace that far exceeds sedimentation. The central problem in understanding deposit feeders is to identify the materials that they utilize and to determine the sources of those materials. The interdisciplinary approach of this project is to combine a chemical reactor theory of digestion with measurements of the processing of enzymatically available amino acids, focusing on rates of hydrolysis in, and absorption from, the gut. In vitro and in vivo fluorometric methods will be developed to assay enzyme activity in the guts of small deposit feeders; these methods that will be applicable to planktonic animals as well. Chemical analyses and deposit-feeder bioassays will be conducted to test whether methionine or other essential amino acids become more limiting in laboratory simulations of diagenesis. In a shallow subtidal site the hypothesis that the holothuroid Parastichopus californicus is limited to feeding during times of relatively high methionine concentration will be tested. At a 200-m site the hypothesis that the burrowing urchin Brisaster latifrons will show greater hydrolytic and absorptive capacity for amino acids after the spring bloom than during winter will be tested.