The deep sea typically has a sparse fauna dominated by tiny worms and crustaceans, with an even sparser distribution of larger animals. However, near hydrothermal vents, areas of the ocean where warm water emerges from subterranean sources, live remarkable densities of huge clams, blind crabs, and fish.
Most deep-sea faunas rely for food on particulate matter ultimately derived from photosynthesis, falling from above. The food supplies necessary to sustain the large vent communities, however, must be many times the ordinary fallout. The first reports describing vent faunas proposed two possible sources of nutrition: bacterial chemosynthesis, production of food by bacteria using energy derived from chemical changes, and advection, the drifting of food materials from surrounding regions. Later, evidence in support of the idea of intense local chemosynthesis was accumulated: hydrogen sulfide was found in vent water; many vent-site bacteria were found to be capable of chemosynthesis; and extremely large concentrations of bacteria were found in samples of vent water thought to be pure. This final observation seemed decisive. If such astonishing concentrations of bacteria were typical of vent outflow, then food within the vent would dwarf any contribution from advection. Hence, the widely quoted conclusion was reached that bacterial chemosynthesis provides the foundation ,for hydrothermal-vent food chains - an exciting prospect because no other communities on Earth are independent of photosynthesis.
There are, however, certain difficulties with this interpretation. For example, some of the large sedentary organisms associated with vents are also found at ordinary deep-sea temperatures many meters from the nearest hydrothermal sources. This suggests that bacterial chemosynthesis is not a sufficient source of nutrition for these creatures. Another difficulty is that similarly dense populations of large deep-sea animals have been found in the proximity of "smokers" -vents where water emerges at temperatures up to 350° C. No bacteria can survive such heat, and no bacteria were found there Unless smokers are consistently located near more hospitable warm-water vents, chemosynthesis can account for only a fraction of the vent faunas. It is conceivable, however, that these large, sedentary organisms do in fact feed on bacteria that grow in warm-water vents, rise in the vent water, and then rain in peripheral areas to nourish animals living some distance from the warm-water vents.
Nonetheless, advection is a more likely alternative food source. Research has demonstrated that advective flow, which originates near the surface of the ocean where suspended particulate matter accumulates, transports some of that matter and water to the vents. Estimates suggest that for every cubic meter of vent discharge, 350 milligrams of particulate organic material would be advected into the vent area. Thus, for an average-sized vent, advection could provide more than 30 kilograms of potential food per day. In addition, it is likely that small live animals in the advected water might be killed or stunned by thermal and/or chemical shock thereby contributing to the food supply of vents.
16. The passage provides information for answering WhICh of the following questions?
(A) What causes warm-water vents to form?
(B) Do vent faunas consume more than do deep-sea faunas of similar size?
(C) Do bacteria live in the vent water of smokers?
(D) What role does hydrogen sulfide play in chemosynthesis?
(E) What accounts for the locations of deep-sea smokers?
17. The information in the passage suggests that the majority of deep-sea faunas that live in nonvent habitats have which of the following characteristics?
(A) They do not normally feed on particles of food in the water.
(B) They are smaller than many vent faunas.
(C) They are predators.
(D) They derive nutrition from a chemosynthetic food source.
(E) They congregate around a single main food source.
18. The primary purpose of the passage is to
(A) describe a previously unknown natural phenomenon
(B) reconstruct the evolution of a natural phenomenon
(C) establish unequivocally the accuracy of a hypothesis
(D) survey explanations for a natural phenomenon and determine which is best supported by evidence
(E) entertain criticism of the author's research and provide an effective response
19. Which of the following does the author cite as a weakness in the argument that bacterial chemosynthesis provides the foundation for the food chains at deep-sea vents?
(A) Vents are colonized by some of the same animals found in other areas of the ocean floor.
(B) Vent water does not contain sufficient quantities of hydrogen sulfide.
(C) Bacteria cannot produce large quantities of food quickly enough.
(D) Large concentrations of minerals are found in vent water.
(E) Some bacteria found in the vents are incapable of chemosynthesis.
20. Which of the following is information supplied in the passage that would support the statement that the food supplies necessary to sustain vent communities must be many times that of ordinary fallout?
I. Large vent faunas move from vent to vent in search of food.
II. Vent faunas are not able to consume food produced by photosynthesis.
III. Vents are more densely populated than are other deep-sea areas.
(A) I only
(B) III only
(C) I and II only
(D) II and III only
(E) I, II, and III
21. The author refers to "smokers" most probably in order to
(A) show how thermal shock can provide food for some vent faunas by stunning small animals
(B) prove that the habitat of most deep-sea animals is limited to warm-water vents
(C) explain how bacteria carry out chemosynthesis
(D) demonstrate how advection compensates for the lack of food sources on the seafloor
(E) present evidence that bacterial chemosynthesis may be an inadequate source of food for some vent faunas
22. Which of the following can be inferred from the passage about the particulate matter that is carried down from the surface of the ocean?
(A) It is the basis of bacterial chemosynthesis in the vents.
(B) It may provide an important source of nutrition for vent faunas.
(C) It may cause the internal temperature of the vents to change significantly.
(D) It is transported as large aggregates of particles.
(E) It contains hydrogen sulfide