The benthos is the area at the bottom of the sea (or a lake) and the term is often used to mean all the plants and animals living there.
Ecosystems of the benthic environment are a sensitive index to ecological change and as such demand long-term and effective monitoring, all the more important in these days of rapid climate changes. There is an ever-increasing demand for more detailed information on bottom-living communities. This demand stems from several sources, not least the requirement around the world for environmental impact statements in the context of major developments in the marine environment. Pollution assessments (for example the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill) also continue to call for knowledge of bottom-living communities, while the current focus on ecosystem management of fisheries depends on a much greater understanding of the inter-relationships between fish and their benthic prey.
Keywords: Aquaculture, Methods for Study of Marine Benthos, The Benthic Environment, The International Biological Programme, Marine Benthos, Bottom-Living Communities, Fisheries Ecology, Fisheries Management, Fisheries Science, Marine Ecology