Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Gerardia: Bristlecone pine of the deep-sea?

  • Author(s): Druffel, ERM;
  • Griffin, S;
  • Witter, A;
  • Nelson, E;
  • Southon, J;
  • Kashgarian, M;
  • Vogel, J
  • et al.
Abstract

We measured carbon isotope abundances in the layered, proteinaceous skeleton of a zoanthid Gerardia collected from 620 m depth off the Little Bahama Bank (27°N, 79°W). The δ 14C values decreased from -76% in the outer growth edge to an average of -267% in the center of three portions of the skeleton. These δ 14C data suggest an age for this living organism of 1800 ± 300 years. The possibility that the large decrease in δ 14C reflects the gradual input of bomb 14C over the entire growth of the organism is inconsistent with the post-bomb δ 14C values obtained for the most recent growth tips. If the age estimate of two millennia is correct, it may be the longest-lived animal yet observed in the ocean. Gerardia may serve as a long-lived recorder of ocean chemistry, similar to the Bristlecone pine tree that has served as a millennial-timescale recorder for atmospheric 14CO2 (Suess, 1980) and climate. In particular, there is potential for Gerardia to serve as a millennial-scale integrator of upper ocean particle flux, and possibly reveal past changes in the productivity of the surface ocean. © 1995.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View