Novel use of burrow casting as a research tool in deep-sea ecology

Koji Seike*, Robert G. Jenkins, Hiromi Watanabe, Hidetaka Nomaki, Kei Sato

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Although the deep sea is the largest ecosystem on Earth, its infaunal ecology remains poorly understood because of the logistical challenges. Here we report the morphology of relatively large burrows obtained by in situ burrow casting at a hydrocarbon-seep site and a non-seep site at water depths of 1173 and 1455 m, respectively. Deep and complex burrows are abundant at both sites, indicating that the burrows introduce oxygen-rich sea water into the deep reducing substrate, thereby influencing benthic metabolism and nutrient fluxes, and providing an oxic microhabitat for small organisms. Burrow castings reveal that the solemyid bivalve Acharax johnsoni mines sulphide from the sediment, as documented for related shallow-water species. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine in situ burrow morphology in the deep sea by means of burrow casting, providing detailed information on burrow structure which will aid the interpretation of seabed processes in the deep sea. This journal is

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)648-651
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Aug 23


  • Acharax
  • Benthos
  • Bioirrigation
  • Bioturbation
  • Ichnology
  • Resin casting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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