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and with biomarkers for some taxa. Archaeology through analysis of Indian middens has contributed to dissection of the sea otter-urchin-kelp interaction in the Aleutian Island chain (Estes et al., 1998). Where could additional effort by ocean ecologists produce the greatest extension and resolution back in time? The successes noted under functional ecology give reason to expect dramatic progress soon in understanding form and function in marine microfossils through understanding of form and function in today's fossilizable organisms. As the costs and benefits of simple shapes yield to analysis (e.g., Dusenbery 1998b), costs and benefits of more complex morphologies seem less daunting to study. Body form, spination, and mechanical properties of phytoplankton and protist individuals and chains certainly contain environmental information to be read. Continued development of "biomarker" compounds also certainly will be repaid. More conjecturally, establishing the extent to which buried bacterial communities reflect the conditions above and on the seafloor at some previous time (i.e., while the surface mixed layer of sediments was in contact with the overlying water) versus their environmental conditions at present may allow extraction of other paleoenvironmental information. At issue is the length of time that bacteria can survive in inactive state and be interrogated by molecular means in this biochemically messy medium.


I thank John Cullen and Dick Barber for constructive criticism of earlier drafts of this paper and Thomas Kiørboe and David Karl for sharing their unpublished manuscripts.


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