Methods of Environmental Variability and Change

These types of environmentl variability patterns can be interpreted from a series of field and lab studies discussed earlier.  Examples of changes in an ecosystem can be divided into three groups:

- short term; seasonal, repetitive variability;
- long-term variability/change;
- non-cyclic change.

(agglutinated forminifera close-up - below)

Example of short-term seasonal variability:

Perhaps the most important discovery is the deep sea experiencing seasonality.

Until recently it was commonly believed that the deep sea was a very stable environment with no signs of environmental variability.

However, bottom photography has shown that there is quite often a large amount of bioturbation creating microhabitats. This provides a scope forpatchiness in  meiofaunal distribution.

The following conclusions were determined after observing short-term seasonality:

- There is considerable variability from one season to the next.
- The pattern of variability does not necessarily repeat itself precisely from year to year.
- Variability  affects the dominant species, and also species diversity.

Therefore, studies in this area provide a baseline from which to evaluate long-term environmental change.