A Review of the Effects of Seamounts on Biological Processes

  1. Barbara H. Keating,
  2. Patricia Fryer,
  3. Rodey Batiza and
  4. George W. Boehlert
  1. George W. Boehlert1 and
  2. Amatzia Genin2

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM043p0319

Seamounts, Islands, and Atolls

Seamounts, Islands, and Atolls

How to Cite

Boehlert, G. W. and Genin, A. (1987) A Review of the Effects of Seamounts on Biological Processes, in Seamounts, Islands, and Atolls (eds B. H. Keating, P. Fryer, R. Batiza and G. W. Boehlert), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM043p0319

Author Information

  1. 1

    Southwest Fisheries Center Honolulu Laboratory, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 2570 Dole St., Honolulu, HI 96822-2396

  2. 2

    Scripps Institution of Oceanography, A-008, University of California, La Jolla, CA 92093

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1987

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900681

Online ISBN: 9781118664209



  • Seamounts;
  • Coral reefs and islands


Seamounts interacting with oceanic currents create flow complexities which depend upon current speed, stratification, latitude, and seamount morphology. Seamount effects, which include internal wave generation, eddy formation, local upwelling, and closed circulation patterns called Taylor columns, have important effects upon pelagic and benthic ecosystems over seamounts. The biological effects of these current-topography interactions are poorly understood. Flow acceleration on upper flanks of seamounts may lead to low sedimentation but areas of high standing stocks of benthic fauna, particularly filter feeders. Other effects extend into the water column; nutrient enrichment and enhanced primary productivity occur over some seamounts. Longer observational periods will be necessary to understand the time-varying nature of such enhanced productivity and the extent to which it remains at the seamount or is advected away. At higher trophic levels, unusual patterns of distribution and abundance occur at some seamounts. Maintenance of high standing stocks of seamount-associated micronekton and demersal fishes suggests that seamounts are locations for high rates of energy transfer. The energy driving this biological productivity may either be generated from in situ processes or be advected from elsewhere and concentrated at the seamount; interdisciplinary studies will be necessary to better understand these ecosystems.