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Trends Ecol Evol. 2006 Dec;21(12):688-95. Epub 2006 Aug 9.

Bioturbation: a fresh look at Darwin's last idea.

Author information

1
Centre for Estuarine en Marine Ecology (CEME), The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Korringaweg 7, 4401 NT Yerseke, The Netherlands. f.meysman@nioo.knaw.nl

Abstract

Bioturbation refers to the biological reworking of soils and sediments, and its importance for soil processes and geomorphology was first realised by Charles Darwin, who devoted his last scientific book to the subject. Here, we review some new insights into the evolutionary and ecological role of bioturbation that would have probably amazed Darwin. In modern ecological theory, bioturbation is now recognised as an archetypal example of 'ecosystem engineering', modifying geochemical gradients, redistributing food resources, viruses, bacteria, resting stages and eggs. From an evolutionary perspective, recent investigations provide evidence that bioturbation had a key role in the evolution of metazoan life at the end of the Precambrian Era.

PMID:
16901581
DOI:
10.1016/j.tree.2006.08.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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