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Sample records for reef benthic communities

  1. Benthic community composition on submerged reefs in the central Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Roberts, T. E.; Moloney, J. M.; Sweatman, H. P. A.; Bridge, T. C. L.

    2015-06-01

    Community dynamics on coral reefs are often examined only in relatively shallow waters, which are most vulnerable to many disturbances. The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) includes extensive submerged reefs that do not approach sea level and are within depths that support many coral reef taxa that also occur in shallow water. However, the composition of benthic communities on submerged reefs in the GBRWHA is virtually unknown. We examined spatial patterns in benthic community composition on 13 submerged reefs in the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR) at depths of 10-30 m. We show that benthic communities on submerged reefs include similar species groups to those on neighbouring emergent reefs. The spatial distribution of species groups was well explained by depth and cross-shelf gradients that are well-known determinants of community composition on emergent reefs. Many equivalent species groups occurred at greater depths on submerged reefs, likely due to variability in the hydrodynamic environment among reef morphologies. Hard coral cover and species richness were lowest at the shallowest depth (6 m) on emergent reefs and were consistently higher on submerged reefs for any given depth. These results suggest that disturbances are less frequent on submerged reefs, but evidence that a severe tropical cyclone in 2011 caused significant damage to shallow regions of more exposed submerged reefs demonstrates that they are not immune. Our results confirm that submerged reefs in the central GBR support extensive and diverse coral assemblages that deserve greater attention in ecosystem assessments and management decisions.

  2. Fish-derived nutrient hotspots shape coral reef benthic communities.

    PubMed

    Shantz, Andrew A; Ladd, Mark C; Schrack, Elizabeth; Burkepile, Deron E

    2015-12-01

    Animal-derived nutrients play an important role in structuring nutrient regimes within and between ecosystems. When animals undergo repetitive, aggregating behavior through time, they can create nutrient hotspots where rates of biogeochemical activity are higher than those found in the surrounding environment. In turn, these hotspots can influence ecosystem processes and community structure. We examined the potential for reef fishes from the family Haemulidae (grunts) to create nutrient hotspots and the potential impact of these hotspots on reef communities. To do so, we tracked the schooling locations of diurnally migrating grunts, which shelter at reef sites during the day but forage off reef each night, and measured the impact of these fish schools on benthic communities. We found that grunt schools showed a high degree of site fidelity, repeatedly returning to the same coral heads. These aggregations created nutrient hotspots around coral heads where nitrogen and phosphorus delivery was roughly 10 and 7 times the respective rates of delivery to structurally similar sites that lacked schools of these fishes. In turn, grazing rates of herbivorous fishes at grunt-derived hotspots were approximately 3 times those of sites where grunts were rare. These differences in nutrient delivery and grazing led to distinct benthic communities with higher cover of crustose coralline algae and less total algal abundance at grunt aggregation sites. Importantly, coral growth was roughly 1.5 times greater at grunt hotspots, likely due to the important nutrient subsidy. Our results suggest that schooling reef fish and their nutrient subsidies play an important role in mediating community structure on coral reefs and that overfishing may have important negative consequences on ecosystem functions. As such, management strategies must consider mesopredatory fishes in addition to current protection often offered to herbivores and top-tier predators. Furthermore, our results suggest that

  3. Measuring coral reef community metabolism using new benthic chamber technology

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Yates, K.K.; Halley, R.B.

    2003-01-01

    Accurate measurement of coral reef community metabolism is a necessity for process monitoring and in situ experimentation on coral reef health. Traditional methodologies used for these measurements are effective but limited by location and scale constraints. We present field trial results for a new benthic chamber system called the Submersible Habitat for Analyzing Reef Quality (SHARQ). This large, portable incubation system enables in situ measurement and experimentation on community- scale metabolism. Rates of photosynthesis, respiration, and calcification were measured using the SHARQ for a variety of coral reef substrate types on the reef flat of South Molokai, Hawaii, and in Biscayne National Park, Florida. Values for daily gross production, 24-h respiration, and net calcification ranged from 0.26 to 6.45 g O2 m-2 day-1, 1.96 to 8.10 g O2 m-2 24 h-1, and 0.02 to 2.0 g CaCO3 m -2 day-1, respectively, for all substrate types. Field trials indicate that the SHARQ incubation chamber is an effective tool for in situ isolation of a water mass over a variety of benthic substrate types for process monitoring, experimentation, and other applications.

  4. Benthic communities at two remote Pacific coral reefs: effects of reef habitat, depth, and wave energy gradients on spatial patterns.

    PubMed

    Williams, Gareth J; Smith, Jennifer E; Conklin, Eric J; Gove, Jamison M; Sala, Enric; Sandin, Stuart A

    2013-01-01

    Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll in the central Pacific are among the most remote coral reefs on the planet. Here we describe spatial patterns in their benthic communities across reef habitats and depths, and consider these in the context of oceanographic gradients. Benthic communities at both locations were dominated by calcifying organisms (54-86% cover), namely hard corals (20-74%) and crustose coralline algae (CCA) (10-36%). While turf algae were relatively common at both locations (8-22%), larger fleshy macroalgae were virtually absent at Kingman (<1%) and rare at Palmyra (0.7-9.3%). Hard coral cover was higher, but with low diversity, in more sheltered habitats such as Palmyra's backreef and Kingman's patch reefs. Almost exclusive dominance by slow-growing Porites on Kingman's patch reefs provides indirect evidence of competitive exclusion, probably late in a successional sequence. In contrast, the more exposed forereef habitats at both Kingman and Palmyra had higher coral diversity and were characterized by fast-growing corals (e.g., Acropora and Pocillopora), indicative of more dynamic environments. In general at both locations, soft coral cover increased with depth, likely reflecting increasingly efficient heterotrophic abilities. CCA and fleshy macroalgae cover decreased with depth, likely due to reduced light. Cover of other calcified macroalgae, predominantly Halimeda, increased with depth. This likely reflects the ability of many calcifying macroalgae to efficiently harvest light at deeper depths, in combination with an increased nutrient supply from upwelling promoting growth. At Palmyra, patterns of hard coral cover with depth were inconsistent, but cover peaked at mid-depths at Kingman. On Kingman's forereef, benthic community composition was strongly related to wave energy, with hard coral cover decreasing and becoming more spatially clustered with increased wave energy, likely as a result of physical damage leading to patches of coral in localized

  5. Benthic communities at two remote Pacific coral reefs: effects of reef habitat, depth, and wave energy gradients on spatial patterns

    PubMed Central

    Conklin, Eric J.; Gove, Jamison M.; Sala, Enric; Sandin, Stuart A.

    2013-01-01

    Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll in the central Pacific are among the most remote coral reefs on the planet. Here we describe spatial patterns in their benthic communities across reef habitats and depths, and consider these in the context of oceanographic gradients. Benthic communities at both locations were dominated by calcifying organisms (54–86% cover), namely hard corals (20–74%) and crustose coralline algae (CCA) (10–36%). While turf algae were relatively common at both locations (8–22%), larger fleshy macroalgae were virtually absent at Kingman (<1%) and rare at Palmyra (0.7–9.3%). Hard coral cover was higher, but with low diversity, in more sheltered habitats such as Palmyra’s backreef and Kingman’s patch reefs. Almost exclusive dominance by slow-growing Porites on Kingman’s patch reefs provides indirect evidence of competitive exclusion, probably late in a successional sequence. In contrast, the more exposed forereef habitats at both Kingman and Palmyra had higher coral diversity and were characterized by fast-growing corals (e.g., Acropora and Pocillopora), indicative of more dynamic environments. In general at both locations, soft coral cover increased with depth, likely reflecting increasingly efficient heterotrophic abilities. CCA and fleshy macroalgae cover decreased with depth, likely due to reduced light. Cover of other calcified macroalgae, predominantly Halimeda, increased with depth. This likely reflects the ability of many calcifying macroalgae to efficiently harvest light at deeper depths, in combination with an increased nutrient supply from upwelling promoting growth. At Palmyra, patterns of hard coral cover with depth were inconsistent, but cover peaked at mid-depths at Kingman. On Kingman’s forereef, benthic community composition was strongly related to wave energy, with hard coral cover decreasing and becoming more spatially clustered with increased wave energy, likely as a result of physical damage leading to patches of

  6. Incorporating benthic community changes into hydrochemical-based projections of coral reef calcium carbonate production under ocean acidification

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shaw, Emily C.; Hamylton, Sarah M.; Phinn, Stuart R.

    2016-06-01

    The existence of coral reefs is dependent on the production and maintenance of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) framework that is produced through calcification. The net production of CaCO3 will likely decline in the future, from both declining net calcification rates (decreasing calcification and increasing dissolution) and shifts in benthic community composition from calcifying organisms to non-calcifying organisms. Here, we present a framework for hydrochemical studies that allows both declining net calcification rates and changes in benthic community composition to be incorporated into projections of coral reef CaCO3 production. The framework involves upscaling net calcification rates for each benthic community type using mapped proportional cover of the benthic communities. This upscaling process was applied to the reef flats at One Tree and Lady Elliot reefs (Great Barrier Reef) and Shiraho Reef (Okinawa), and compared to existing data. Future CaCO3 budgets were projected for Lady Elliot Reef, predicting a decline of 53 % from the present value by end-century (800 ppm CO2) without any changes to benthic community composition. A further 5.7 % decline in net CaCO3 production is expected for each 10 % decline in calcifier cover, and net dissolution is predicted by end-century if calcifier cover drops below 18 % of the present extent. These results show the combined negative effect of both declining net calcification rates and changing benthic community composition on reefs and the importance of considering both processes for determining future reef CaCO3 production.

  7. Fringing reefs exposed to different levels of eutrophication and sedimentation can support similar benthic communities.

    PubMed

    Rouzé, H; Lecellier, G; Langlade, M J; Planes, S; Berteaux-Lecellier, V

    2015-03-15

    Benthic communities are sensitive to anthropogenic disturbances which can result in changes in species assemblages. A spatio-temporal survey of environmental parameters was conducted over an 18-month period on four different fringing reefs of Moorea, French Polynesia, with unusual vs. frequent human pressures. This survey included assessment of biological, chemical, and physical parameters. First, the results showed a surprising lack of a seasonal trend, which was likely obscured by short-term variability in lagoons. More frequent sampling periods would likely improve the evaluation of a seasonal effect on biological and ecological processes. Second, the three reef habitats studied that were dominated by corals were highly stable, despite displaying antagonistic environmental conditions through eutrophication and sedimentation gradients, whereas the reef dominated by macroalgae was relatively unstable. Altogether, our data challenge the paradigm of labelling environmental parameters such as turbidity, sedimentation, and nutrient-richness as stress indicators. PMID:25586642

  8. Benthic diatom community composition in three regions of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gottschalk, S.; Uthicke, S.; Heimann, K.

    2007-06-01

    Despite their ecological importance, very little is known about the taxonomy and ecology of benthic diatoms in coral-reef ecosystems. Diatom densities and community compositions were investigated in three distinct regions of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR): (a) Wet Tropics (WT), (b) Princess Charlotte Bay (PCB), and (c) the Outer Shelf (OS). About 209 taxa were observed in the GBR sediments studied, with an average abundance of 2.55 × 106 cells ml-1 in the upper 1 cm of sediment. Total diatom abundances were about twice as high in inshore reefs of PCB and WT compared with OS reefs. A redundancy analysis (RDA) of diatom composition clearly grouped the three regions separately but showed little influence of grain size, nitrogen and organic carbon content of the sediments. The only distinct correlates were inorganic carbon and the distance to the mainland associated with OS communities. Analysis of similarity (ANOSIM) of diatom community composition revealed significant differences between all three regions. Indicator values showed that most highly abundant taxa occurred in all regions. However, several taxa were clearly identified as characteristic of particular regions. It is hypothesised that variations in nutrient and light availability are the most likely explanation for the observed differences in community composition.

  9. Diel Variability in Seawater pH Relates to Calcification and Benthic Community Structure on Coral Reefs

    PubMed Central

    Martz, Todd R.; Brainard, Russell E.

    2012-01-01

    Community structure and assembly are determined in part by environmental heterogeneity. While reef-building corals respond negatively to warming (i.e. bleaching events) and ocean acidification (OA), the extent of present-day natural variability in pH on shallow reefs and ecological consequences for benthic assemblages is unknown. We documented high resolution temporal patterns in temperature and pH from three reefs in the central Pacific and examined how these data relate to community development and net accretion rates of early successional benthic organisms. These reefs experienced substantial diel fluctuations in temperature (0.78°C) and pH (>0.2) similar to the magnitude of ‘warming’ and ‘acidification’ expected over the next century. Where daily pH within the benthic boundary layer failed to exceed pelagic climatological seasonal lows, net accretion was slower and fleshy, non-calcifying benthic organisms dominated space. Thus, key aspects of coral reef ecosystem structure and function are presently related to natural diurnal variability in pH. PMID:22952785

  10. Spatial heterogeneity of benthic community assemblages with an emphasis on reef algae at French Frigate Shoals, Northwestern Hawai`ian Islands

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vroom, Peter S.; Page, Kimberly N.; Peyton, Kimberly A.; Kukea-Shultz, J. Kanekoa

    2005-12-01

    Reefs in tropical atoll systems have historically been described on a geomorphic basis, and segregated into loosely defined fore-reef, back-reef, and lagoonal reef zones. However, recent oceanographic monitoring data have shown that physical factors within a single geomorphic zone can vary significantly, calling into question whether benthic communities within a single zone are biologically similar. To determine the amount of benthic variability that may occur in a geomorphic zone, percent cover of benthic organisms was determined at the species level for 28 sites in three geomorphic zones at French Frigate Shoals, Northwestern Hawai‘ian Islands. Multivariate statistical analyses found most windward fore-reef and back-reef sites to be statistically similar, but considerable variation to exist among sites within calmer lagoonal areas. Surveys revealed macroalgae to dominate over scleractinian coral species at the majority of sites in this healthy, subtropical reef system, although select lagoonal areas were dominated by dense coral communities.

  11. Spatial patterns in benthic communities and the dynamics of a mosaic ecosystem on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ninio, R.; Meekan, M.

    2002-04-01

    The benthic communities of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) have been characterized as a mosaic with patches at scales of tens to hundreds of kilometres formed by clusters of reefs with comparable environmental settings and histories of disturbance. We use data sets of changes in cover of abundant benthic organisms to examine the relationship between community composition and the dynamics of this mosaic. Our data were compiled from seven annual video surveys of permanent transects on the north-east flanks of up to 52 reefs at different shelf positions throughout most of the GBR. Classification analysis of these data sets identified three distinct groups of reefs, the first dominated by poritid hard corals and alcyoniid soft corals, the second by hard corals of the genus Acropora, and the third by xeniid soft corals. These groups underwent different amounts of change in cover during the period of our study. As acroporan corals are fast growing but susceptible to mortality due to predators and wave action, the group of reefs dominated by this genus displayed rapid rates of growth and loss of cover. In contrast, cover in the remaining groups changed very slowly or remained stable. Some evidence suggests that competition for space may limit growth of acroporan corals and thus rates of change in the group dominated by xeniid soft corals. These contrasting patterns imply that susceptibility to, and recovery from, disturbances such as cyclones, predators, and bleaching events will differ among these groups of reefs.

  12. Benthic infaunal communities around two artificial reefs in Mamala Bay, Oahu, Hawaii.

    PubMed

    Fukunaga, Atsuko; Bailey-Brock, Julie H

    2008-04-01

    Non-fishery use of artificial reefs has been given attention in recent years. The primary concern associated with non-fishery artificial reefs is their effects to the surrounding ecosystems. This study examined the infaunal communities around two non-fishery artificial reefs (the sunken vessels YO257 and Sea Tiger) in Mamala Bay, Hawaii. Infaunal community structures at these artificial reefs were relatively similar to one at a nearly natural patch reef. A large amount of basalt gravel around YO257 associated with its deployment operation possibly had an effect on the surrounding community by increasing pore space. Polychaete assemblages were compared with existing data throughout the bay, and this revealed that the variation in sediment grain sizes and depths seemed to play some role in structuring the polychaete communities. Nevertheless, the infaunal communities around the artificial reefs were typical and within the range of natural variation in Mamala Bay, supporting their beneficial uses in ecotourism. PMID:18158181

  13. Carbonate Production by Benthic Communities on Shallow Coralgal Reefs of Abrolhos Bank, Brazil.

    PubMed

    Reis, Vanessa Moura Dos; Karez, Cláudia Santiago; Mariath, Rodrigo; de Moraes, Fernando Coreixas; de Carvalho, Rodrigo Tomazetto; Brasileiro, Poliana Silva; Bahia, Ricardo da Gama; Lotufo, Tito Monteiro da Cruz; Ramalho, Laís Vieira; de Moura, Rodrigo Leão; Francini-Filho, Ronaldo Bastos; Pereira-Filho, Guilherme Henrique; Thompson, Fabiano Lopes; Bastos, Alex Cardoso; Salgado, Leonardo Tavares; Amado-Filho, Gilberto Menezes

    2016-01-01

    The abundance of reef builders, non-builders and the calcium carbonate produced by communities established in Calcification Accretion Units (CAUs) were determined in three Abrolhos Bank shallow reefs during the period from 2012 to 2014. In addition, the seawater temperature, the irradiance, and the amount and composition of the sediments were determined. The inner and outer reef arcs were compared. CAUs located on the inner reef shelf were under the influence of terrigenous sediments. On the outer reefs, the sediments were composed primarily of marine biogenic carbonates. The mean carbonate production in shallow reefs of Abrolhos was 579 ± 98 g m-2 y-1. The builder community was dominated by crustose coralline algae, while the non-builder community was dominated by turf. A marine heat wave was detected during the summer of 2013-2014, and the number of consecutive days with a temperature above or below the summer mean was positively correlated with the turf cover increase. The mean carbonate production of the shallow reefs of Abrolhos Bank was greater than the estimated carbonate production measured for artificial structures on several other shallow reefs of the world. The calcimass was higher than the non-calcareous mass, suggesting that the Abrolhos reefs are still in a positive carbonate production balance. Given that marine heat waves produce an increase of turf cover on the shallow reefs of the Abrolhos, a decrease in the cover represented by reef builders and shifting carbonate production are expected in the near future. PMID:27119151

  14. Carbonate Production by Benthic Communities on Shallow Coralgal Reefs of Abrolhos Bank, Brazil

    PubMed Central

    dos Reis, Vanessa Moura; Karez, Cláudia Santiago; Mariath, Rodrigo; de Moraes, Fernando Coreixas; de Carvalho, Rodrigo Tomazetto; Brasileiro, Poliana Silva; Bahia, Ricardo da Gama; Lotufo, Tito Monteiro da Cruz; Ramalho, Laís Vieira; de Moura, Rodrigo Leão; Francini-Filho, Ronaldo Bastos; Pereira-Filho, Guilherme Henrique; Thompson, Fabiano Lopes; Bastos, Alex Cardoso; Salgado, Leonardo Tavares; Amado-Filho, Gilberto Menezes

    2016-01-01

    The abundance of reef builders, non-builders and the calcium carbonate produced by communities established in Calcification Accretion Units (CAUs) were determined in three Abrolhos Bank shallow reefs during the period from 2012 to 2014. In addition, the seawater temperature, the irradiance, and the amount and composition of the sediments were determined. The inner and outer reef arcs were compared. CAUs located on the inner reef shelf were under the influence of terrigenous sediments. On the outer reefs, the sediments were composed primarily of marine biogenic carbonates. The mean carbonate production in shallow reefs of Abrolhos was 579 ± 98 g m-2 y-1. The builder community was dominated by crustose coralline algae, while the non-builder community was dominated by turf. A marine heat wave was detected during the summer of 2013–2014, and the number of consecutive days with a temperature above or below the summer mean was positively correlated with the turf cover increase. The mean carbonate production of the shallow reefs of Abrolhos Bank was greater than the estimated carbonate production measured for artificial structures on several other shallow reefs of the world. The calcimass was higher than the non-calcareous mass, suggesting that the Abrolhos reefs are still in a positive carbonate production balance. Given that marine heat waves produce an increase of turf cover on the shallow reefs of the Abrolhos, a decrease in the cover represented by reef builders and shifting carbonate production are expected in the near future. PMID:27119151

  15. Variable responses of benthic communities to anomalously warm sea temperatures on a high-latitude coral reef.

    PubMed

    Bridge, Tom C L; Ferrari, Renata; Bryson, Mitch; Hovey, Renae; Figueira, Will F; Williams, Stefan B; Pizarro, Oscar; Harborne, Alastair R; Byrne, Maria

    2014-01-01

    High-latitude reefs support unique ecological communities occurring at the biogeographic boundaries between tropical and temperate marine ecosystems. Due to their lower ambient temperatures, they are regarded as potential refugia for tropical species shifting poleward due to rising sea temperatures. However, acute warming events can cause rapid shifts in the composition of high-latitude reef communities, including range contractions of temperate macroalgae and bleaching-induced mortality in corals. While bleaching has been reported on numerous high-latitude reefs, post-bleaching trajectories of benthic communities are poorly described. Consequently, the longer-term effects of thermal anomalies on high-latitude reefs are difficult to predict. Here, we use an autonomous underwater vehicle to conduct repeated surveys of three 625 m(2) plots on a coral-dominated high-latitude reef in the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia, over a four-year period spanning a large-magnitude thermal anomaly. Quantification of benthic communities revealed high coral cover (>70%, comprising three main morphospecies) prior to the bleaching event. Plating Montipora was most susceptible to bleaching, but in the plot where it was most abundant, coral cover did not change significantly because of post-bleaching increases in branching Acropora. In the other two plots, coral cover decreased while macroalgal cover increased markedly. Overall, coral cover declined from 73% to 59% over the course of the study, while macroalgal cover increased from 11% to 24%. The significant differences in impacts and post-bleaching trajectories among plots underline the importance of understanding the underlying causes of such variation to improve predictions of how climate change will affect reefs, especially at high-latitudes. PMID:25426718

  16. Variable Responses of Benthic Communities to Anomalously Warm Sea Temperatures on a High-Latitude Coral Reef

    PubMed Central

    Bryson, Mitch; Hovey, Renae; Figueira, Will F.; Williams, Stefan B.; Pizarro, Oscar; Harborne, Alastair R.; Byrne, Maria

    2014-01-01

    High-latitude reefs support unique ecological communities occurring at the biogeographic boundaries between tropical and temperate marine ecosystems. Due to their lower ambient temperatures, they are regarded as potential refugia for tropical species shifting poleward due to rising sea temperatures. However, acute warming events can cause rapid shifts in the composition of high-latitude reef communities, including range contractions of temperate macroalgae and bleaching-induced mortality in corals. While bleaching has been reported on numerous high-latitude reefs, post-bleaching trajectories of benthic communities are poorly described. Consequently, the longer-term effects of thermal anomalies on high-latitude reefs are difficult to predict. Here, we use an autonomous underwater vehicle to conduct repeated surveys of three 625 m2 plots on a coral-dominated high-latitude reef in the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia, over a four-year period spanning a large-magnitude thermal anomaly. Quantification of benthic communities revealed high coral cover (>70%, comprising three main morphospecies) prior to the bleaching event. Plating Montipora was most susceptible to bleaching, but in the plot where it was most abundant, coral cover did not change significantly because of post-bleaching increases in branching Acropora. In the other two plots, coral cover decreased while macroalgal cover increased markedly. Overall, coral cover declined from 73% to 59% over the course of the study, while macroalgal cover increased from 11% to 24%. The significant differences in impacts and post-bleaching trajectories among plots underline the importance of understanding the underlying causes of such variation to improve predictions of how climate change will affect reefs, especially at high-latitudes. PMID:25426718

  17. Linking benthic community structure to terrestrial runoff and upwelling in the coral reefs of northeastern Hainan Island

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Li, Xiubao; Wang, Daoru; Huang, Hui; Zhang, Jing; Lian, Jiansheng; Yuan, Xiangcheng; Yang, Jianhui; Zhang, Guoseng

    2015-04-01

    Near-shore coral reefs in northeastern Hainan Island are close to river mouths and aquaculture ponds, and also located at the center of the Qiongdong Upwelling (QDU). However, it is still unclear how terrestrial runoff and upwelling influence the community composition and spatial distribution of the benthos. During three cruises in 2010 and 2011 in Wenchang, northeastern Hainan Island, we determined a subset of environmental parameters in seawater (e.g. temperature, salinity, DO, dissolved inorganic nutrient (DIN), turbidity and transparency) and macroalgal δ15N and investigated the benthic communities (e.g. live coral cover, coral species richness, juvenile coral density, macroalgal cover and coverage of calcified algae) by video transect and visual census techniques at 10 stations (i.e. 1S-6D). The results showed that the QDU has influenced the reef waters in Wenchang. In 2011, the upwelling started in early May, peaked in July and disappeared in September and most upwelling events lasted for 1-2 weeks between May and July. The results also demonstrated that the reef water was nutrient enriched. Stations close to the river mouth and aquaculture ponds had higher levels of DIN and a higher percentage of ammonia in DIN, and there was consistently lower live coral cover, juvenile coral density and higher macroalgal cover. At some stations in this study, live coral cover was negatively correlated with macroalgal cover (i.e. 2S-6D). Live coral cover, species richness, and juvenile coral density all increased with the distance away from the river outlet and decreased with the rise of DIN. These results suggest that terrestrial runoff and upwelling stimulate nutrient enrichment, and that overgrowing macroalgae has an important influence on the coral communities in northeastern Hainan Island.

  18. Predator Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (Acanthaster planci) Outbreak, Mass Mortality of Corals, and Cascading Effects on Reef Fish and Benthic Communities

    PubMed Central

    Kayal, Mohsen; Vercelloni, Julie; Lison de Loma, Thierry; Bosserelle, Pauline; Chancerelle, Yannick; Geoffroy, Sylvie; Stievenart, Céline; Michonneau, François; Penin, Lucie; Planes, Serge; Adjeroud, Mehdi

    2012-01-01

    Outbreaks of the coral-killing seastar Acanthaster planci are intense disturbances that can decimate coral reefs. These events consist of the emergence of large swarms of the predatory seastar that feed on reef-building corals, often leading to widespread devastation of coral populations. While cyclic occurrences of such outbreaks are reported from many tropical reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific, their causes are hotly debated, and the spatio-temporal dynamics of the outbreaks and impacts to reef communities remain unclear. Based on observations of a recent event around the island of Moorea, French Polynesia, we show that Acanthaster outbreaks are methodic, slow-paced, and diffusive biological disturbances. Acanthaster outbreaks on insular reef systems like Moorea's appear to originate from restricted areas confined to the ocean-exposed base of reefs. Elevated Acanthaster densities then progressively spread to adjacent and shallower locations by migrations of seastars in aggregative waves that eventually affect the entire reef system. The directional migration across reefs appears to be a search for prey as reef portions affected by dense seastar aggregations are rapidly depleted of living corals and subsequently left behind. Coral decline on impacted reefs occurs by the sequential consumption of species in the order of Acanthaster feeding preferences. Acanthaster outbreaks thus result in predictable alteration of the coral community structure. The outbreak we report here is among the most intense and devastating ever reported. Using a hierarchical, multi-scale approach, we also show how sessile benthic communities and resident coral-feeding fish assemblages were subsequently affected by the decline of corals. By elucidating the processes involved in an Acanthaster outbreak, our study contributes to comprehending this widespread disturbance and should thus benefit targeted management actions for coral reef ecosystems. PMID:23056635

  19. Dynamics in benthic community composition and influencing factors in an upwelling-exposed coral reef on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica

    PubMed Central

    Sánchez-Noguera, Celeste; Roth, Florian; Jiménez, Carlos; Rixen, Tim; Cortés, Jorge; Wild, Christian

    2015-01-01

    Seasonal upwelling at the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica offers the opportunity to investigate the effects of pronounced changes in key water parameters on fine-scale dynamics of local coral reef communities. This study monitored benthic community composition at Matapalo reef (10.539°N, 85.766°W) by weekly observations of permanent benthic quadrats from April 2013 to April 2014. Monitoring was accompanied by surveys of herbivore abundance and biomass and measurements of water temperature and inorganic nutrient concentrations. Findings revealed that the reef-building corals Pocillopora spp. exhibited an exceptional rapid increase from 22 to 51% relative benthic cover. By contrast, turf algae cover decreased from 63 to 24%, resulting in a corresponding increase in crustose coralline algae cover. The macroalga Caulerpa sertularioides covered up to 15% of the reef in April 2013, disappeared after synchronized gamete release in May, and subsequently exhibited slow regrowth. Parallel monitoring of influencing factors suggest that C. sertularioides cover was mainly regulated by their reproductive cycle, while that of turf algae was likely controlled by high abundances of herbivores. Upwelling events in February and March 2014 decreased mean daily seawater temperatures by up to 7 °C and increased nutrient concentrations up to 5- (phosphate) and 16-fold (nitrate) compared to mean values during the rest of the year. Changes in benthic community composition did not appear to correspond to the strong environmental changes, but rather shifted from turf algae to hard coral dominance over the entire year of observation. The exceptional high dynamic over the annual observation period encourages further research on the adaptation potential of coral reefs to environmental variability. PMID:26623190

  20. Dynamics in benthic community composition and influencing factors in an upwelling-exposed coral reef on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

    PubMed

    Stuhldreier, Ines; Sánchez-Noguera, Celeste; Roth, Florian; Jiménez, Carlos; Rixen, Tim; Cortés, Jorge; Wild, Christian

    2015-01-01

    Seasonal upwelling at the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica offers the opportunity to investigate the effects of pronounced changes in key water parameters on fine-scale dynamics of local coral reef communities. This study monitored benthic community composition at Matapalo reef (10.539°N, 85.766°W) by weekly observations of permanent benthic quadrats from April 2013 to April 2014. Monitoring was accompanied by surveys of herbivore abundance and biomass and measurements of water temperature and inorganic nutrient concentrations. Findings revealed that the reef-building corals Pocillopora spp. exhibited an exceptional rapid increase from 22 to 51% relative benthic cover. By contrast, turf algae cover decreased from 63 to 24%, resulting in a corresponding increase in crustose coralline algae cover. The macroalga Caulerpa sertularioides covered up to 15% of the reef in April 2013, disappeared after synchronized gamete release in May, and subsequently exhibited slow regrowth. Parallel monitoring of influencing factors suggest that C. sertularioides cover was mainly regulated by their reproductive cycle, while that of turf algae was likely controlled by high abundances of herbivores. Upwelling events in February and March 2014 decreased mean daily seawater temperatures by up to 7 °C and increased nutrient concentrations up to 5- (phosphate) and 16-fold (nitrate) compared to mean values during the rest of the year. Changes in benthic community composition did not appear to correspond to the strong environmental changes, but rather shifted from turf algae to hard coral dominance over the entire year of observation. The exceptional high dynamic over the annual observation period encourages further research on the adaptation potential of coral reefs to environmental variability. PMID:26623190

  1. Monitoring of coastal coral reefs near Dahab (Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea) indicates local eutrophication as potential cause for change in benthic communities.

    PubMed

    Naumann, Malik S; Bednarz, Vanessa N; Ferse, Sebastian C A; Niggl, Wolfgang; Wild, Christian

    2015-02-01

    Coral reef ecosystems fringing the coastline of Dahab (South Sinai, Egypt) have experienced increasing anthropogenic disturbance as an emergent international tourism destination. Previous reports covering tourism-related impacts on coastal environments, particularly mechanical damage and destructive fishing, have highlighted the vital necessity for regular ecosystem monitoring of coral reefs near Dahab. However, a continuous scientific monitoring programme of permanent survey sites has not been established to date. Thus, this study conducted in situ monitoring surveys to investigate spatio-temporal variability of benthic reef communities and selected reef-associated herbivores along with reef health indicator organisms by revisiting three of the locally most frequented dive sites during expeditions in March 2010, September 2011 and February 2013. In addition, inorganic nutrient concentrations in reef-surrounding waters were determined to evaluate bottom-up effects of key environmental parameters on benthic reef community shifts in relation to grazer-induced top-down control. Findings revealed that from 2010 to 2013, live hard coral cover declined significantly by 12 % at the current-sheltered site Three Pools (TP), while showing negative trends for the Blue Hole (BH) and Lighthouse (LH) sites. Hard coral cover decline was significantly and highly correlated to a substantial increase in turf algae cover (up to 57 % at TP) at all sites, replacing hard corals as dominant benthic space occupiers in 2013. These changes were correlated to ambient phosphate and ammonium concentrations that exhibited highest values (0.64 ± 0.07 μmol PO4 (3-) l(-1), 1.05 ± 0.07 μmol NH4 (+) l(-1)) at the degraded site TP. While macroalgae appeared to respond to both bottom-up and top-down factors, change in turf algae was consistent with expected indications for bottom-up control. Temporal variability measured in herbivorous reef fish stocks reflected seasonal impacts by

  2. Floating and fixed artificial habitats: Spatial and temporal patterns of benthic communities in a coral reef environment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perkol-Finkel, S.; Zilman, G.; Sella, I.; Miloh, T.; Benayahu, Y.

    2008-04-01

    While natural marine habitats with motion capabilities, e.g., kelps and seaweeds, have been studied alongside their associated fouling communities, little is known of the effect of motion on the communities of floating artificial habitats such as buoys, rafts, and pontoons, particularly in tropical systems. Hydrodynamic features greatly differ between floating and fixed artificial substrata, which in turn affect the structure of their associated communities. This study tested the hypothesis that floating and fixed artificial installations in a tropical reef system (Eilat, Red Sea) would support different benthic communities throughout space and time. Specifically, we examined differences in communities recruited onto settlement plates between floating and fixed installations deployed at three different sites, along a two-year monitoring period. The three sites exhibited distinct differences in species assemblages between the monitoring dates (6, 12, 18 and 24 months post deployment), mainly between the first and the last two dates. The average level of dissimilarity between floating and fixed installations increased over time at all sites. Over 50% of the dissimilarity between the floating and fixed installations resulted from five taxonomic groups i.e., bryozoans, bivalves, barnacles, sponges, including the amount of bare space on the settlement plates. The contribution of these groups to the dissimilarity changed both temporally within each site, and spatially among sites. The observed differences were related to the hydrodynamic characteristics of floating and fixed habitats, interacting with biotic features such as predation, successional processes and seasonality; and abiotic features including small-scale spatial changes, light, and position in the water column.

  3. Continued post-bleaching decline and changed benthic community of a Kenyan coral reef.

    PubMed

    Lambo, A L; Ormond, R F G

    2006-12-01

    During the global coral bleaching event of 1997/1998 Kenyan reefs experienced between 50% and 90% coral mortality, with coral cover at Malindi being reduced from 35-45% (pre-bleaching) to 10-20%. Even before this event there was concern that these reefs were being impacted by increased sediment loads from the nearby Sabaki River. Here we report that since 1998 coral cover has declined yet further with, in 2004, means of 5.1% being recorded at North Reef (within the non-fished Malindi Marine National Park) and 2.3% on Leopard Reef (within the fished Marine Reserve). Prior to bleaching 55 coral genera were recorded from the area, currently we find only 23. Meanwhile algal cover, especially the calcareous green alga Halimeda, has increased, and on Leopard Reef is twice that on North Reef. Taken with the evidence of previous studies, these data suggest a combined impact of coral bleaching with sedimentation and fishing. PMID:16962145

  4. Coastal Benthic Communities

    EPA Science Inventory

    This indicator describes the species diversity of benthic communities in U.S. estuarine waters during the period 1997–2000. Benthic organisms — animals that inhabit the bottom substrate of a water body — play an important role in maintaining sediment and water qual...

  5. Benthic buffers and boosters of ocean acidification on coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Anthony, K. R. N.; Diaz-Pulido, G.; Verlinden, N.; Tilbrook, B.; Andersson, A. J.

    2013-02-01

    Ocean acidification is a threat to marine ecosystems globally. In shallow-water systems, however, ocean acidification can be masked by benthic carbon fluxes, depending on community composition, seawater residence time, and the magnitude and balance of net community production (pn) and calcification (gn). Here, we examine how six benthic groups from a coral reef environment on Heron Reef (Great Barrier Reef, Australia) contribute to changes in seawater aragonite saturation state (Ωa). Results of flume studies showed a hierarchy of responses across groups, depending on CO2 level, time of day and water flow. At low CO2 (350-450 μatm), macroalgae (Chnoospora implexa), turfs and sand elevated Ωa of the flume water by around 0.10 to 1.20 h-1 - normalised to contributions from 1 m2 of benthos to a 1 m deep water column. The rate of Ωa increase in these groups was doubled under acidification (560-700 μatm) and high flow (35 compared to 8 cm s-1). In contrast, branching corals (Acropora aspera) increased Ωa by 0.25 h-1 at ambient CO2 (350-450 μatm) during the day, but reduced Ωa under acidification and high flow. Nighttime changes in Ωa by corals were highly negative (0.6-0.8 h-1) and exacerbated by acidification. Calcifying macroalgae (Halimeda spp.) raised Ωa by day (by around 0.13 h-1), but lowered Ωa by a similar or higher amount at night. Analyses of carbon flux contributions from four different benthic compositions to the reef water carbon chemistry across Heron Reef flat and lagoon indicated that the net lowering of Ωa by coral-dominated areas can to some extent be countered by long water residence times in neighbouring areas dominated by turfs, macroalgae and potentially sand.

  6. Northern Florida reef tract benthic metabolism scaled by remote sensing

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Brock, J.C.; Yates, K.K.; Halley, R.B.; Kuffner, I.B.; Wright, C.W.; Hatcher, B.G.

    2006-01-01

    Holistic rates of excess organic carbon production (E) and calcification for a 0.5 km2 segment of the backreef platform of the northern Florida reef tract (NFRT) were estimated by combining biotope mapping using remote sensing with community metabolic rates determined with a benthic incubation system. The use of ASTER multispectral satellite imaging for the spatial scaling of benthic metabolic processes resulted in errors in E and net calcification (G) of 48 and 431% respectively, relative to estimates obtained using AISA hyperspectral airborne scanning. At 19 and 125%, the E and G errors relative to the AISA-based estimates were less pronounced for an analysis that used IKONOS multispectral satellite imagery to spatially extrapolate the chamber process measurements. Our scaling analysis indicates that the holistic calcification rate of the backreef platform of the northern Florida reef tract is negligible at 0.07 g CaCO3 m-2 d-1. All of the mapped biotopes in this reef zone are net heterotrophic, resulting in an estimated holistic excess production rate of -0.56 g C m-2 d-1, and an overall gross primary production to respiration ratio of 0.85. Based on our finding of ubiquitous heterotrophy, we infer that the backreef platform of the NFRT is a sink for external inputs of suspended particulate organic matter. Further, our results suggest that the inward advection of inorganic nutrients is not a dominant forcing mechanism for benthic biogeochemical function in the NFRT. We suggest that the degradation of the northern Florida reef tract may parallel the community phase shifts documented within other reef systems polluted by organic detritus.

  7. Microbial to reef scale interactions between the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and benthic algae.

    PubMed

    Barott, Katie L; Rodriguez-Mueller, Beltran; Youle, Merry; Marhaver, Kristen L; Vermeij, Mark J A; Smith, Jennifer E; Rohwer, Forest L

    2012-04-22

    Competition between reef-building corals and benthic algae is of key importance for reef dynamics. These interactions occur on many spatial scales, ranging from chemical to regional. Using microprobes, 16S rDNA pyrosequencing and underwater surveys, we examined the interactions between the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and four types of benthic algae. The macroalgae Dictyota bartayresiana and Halimeda opuntia, as well as a mixed consortium of turf algae, caused hypoxia on the adjacent coral tissue. Turf algae were also associated with major shifts in the bacterial communities at the interaction zones, including more pathogens and virulence genes. In contrast to turf algae, interactions with crustose coralline algae (CCA) and M. annularis did not appear to be antagonistic at any scale. These zones were not hypoxic, the microbes were not pathogen-like and the abundance of coral-CCA interactions was positively correlated with per cent coral cover. We propose a model in which fleshy algae (i.e. some species of turf and fleshy macroalgae) alter benthic competition dynamics by stimulating bacterial respiration and promoting invasion of virulent bacteria on corals. This gives fleshy algae a competitive advantage over corals when human activities, such as overfishing and eutrophication, remove controls on algal abundance. Together, these results demonstrate the intricate connections and mechanisms that structure coral reefs. PMID:22090385

  8. Microbial to reef scale interactions between the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and benthic algae

    PubMed Central

    Barott, Katie L.; Rodriguez-Mueller, Beltran; Youle, Merry; Marhaver, Kristen L.; Vermeij, Mark J. A.; Smith, Jennifer E.; Rohwer, Forest L.

    2012-01-01

    Competition between reef-building corals and benthic algae is of key importance for reef dynamics. These interactions occur on many spatial scales, ranging from chemical to regional. Using microprobes, 16S rDNA pyrosequencing and underwater surveys, we examined the interactions between the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and four types of benthic algae. The macroalgae Dictyota bartayresiana and Halimeda opuntia, as well as a mixed consortium of turf algae, caused hypoxia on the adjacent coral tissue. Turf algae were also associated with major shifts in the bacterial communities at the interaction zones, including more pathogens and virulence genes. In contrast to turf algae, interactions with crustose coralline algae (CCA) and M. annularis did not appear to be antagonistic at any scale. These zones were not hypoxic, the microbes were not pathogen-like and the abundance of coral–CCA interactions was positively correlated with per cent coral cover. We propose a model in which fleshy algae (i.e. some species of turf and fleshy macroalgae) alter benthic competition dynamics by stimulating bacterial respiration and promoting invasion of virulent bacteria on corals. This gives fleshy algae a competitive advantage over corals when human activities, such as overfishing and eutrophication, remove controls on algal abundance. Together, these results demonstrate the intricate connections and mechanisms that structure coral reefs. PMID:22090385

  9. Oyster reef restoration in the Northern Gulf of Mexico: effect of artificial substrate and sge on nekton and benthic macroinvertebrate assemblage use

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Brown, Laura A.; Furlong, Jessica N.; Brown, Kenneth M.; LaPeyre, Megan K.

    2013-01-01

    In the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM), reefs built by eastern oysters, Crassostrea virginica, provide critical habitat within shallow estuaries, and recent efforts have focused on restoring reefs to benefit nekton and benthic macroinvertebrates. We compared nekton and benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages at historic, newly created (<5years) and old (>6years) shell and rock substrate reefs. Using crab traps, gill-nets, otter trawls, cast nets, and benthic macroinvertebrate collectors, 20 shallow reefs (<5m) in the northern GOM were sampled throughout the summer of 2011. We compared nekton and benthic assemblage abundance, diversity and composition across reef types. Except for benthic macroinvertebrate abundance, which was significantly higher on old rock reefs as compared to historic reefs, all reefs were similar to historic reefs, suggesting created reefs provide similar support of nekton and benthic assemblages as historic reefs. To determine refuge value of oyster structure for benthic macroinvertebrates compared to bare bottom, we tested preferences of juvenile crabs across depth and refuge complexity in the presence and absence of adult blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus). Juveniles were more likely to use deep water with predators present only when provided oyster structure. Provision of structural material to support and sustain development of benthic and mobile reef communities may be the most important factor in determining reef value to these assemblages, with biophysical characteristics related to reef location influencing assemblage patterns in areas with structure; if so, appropriately locating created reefs is critical.

  10. The Influence of Coral Reef Benthic Condition on Associated Fish Assemblages

    PubMed Central

    Chong-Seng, Karen M.; Mannering, Thomas D.; Pratchett, Morgan S.; Bellwood, David R.; Graham, Nicholas A. J.

    2012-01-01

    Accumulative disturbances can erode a coral reef’s resilience, often leading to replacement of scleractinian corals by macroalgae or other non-coral organisms. These degraded reef systems have been mostly described based on changes in the composition of the reef benthos, and there is little understanding of how such changes are influenced by, and in turn influence, other components of the reef ecosystem. This study investigated the spatial variation in benthic communities on fringing reefs around the inner Seychelles islands. Specifically, relationships between benthic composition and the underlying substrata, as well as the associated fish assemblages were assessed. High variability in benthic composition was found among reefs, with a gradient from high coral cover (up to 58%) and high structural complexity to high macroalgae cover (up to 95%) and low structural complexity at the extremes. This gradient was associated with declining species richness of fishes, reduced diversity of fish functional groups, and lower abundance of corallivorous fishes. There were no reciprocal increases in herbivorous fish abundances, and relationships with other fish functional groups and total fish abundance were weak. Reefs grouping at the extremes of complex coral habitats or low-complexity macroalgal habitats displayed markedly different fish communities, with only two species of benthic invertebrate feeding fishes in greater abundance in the macroalgal habitat. These results have negative implications for the continuation of many coral reef ecosystem processes and services if more reefs shift to extreme degraded conditions dominated by macroalgae. PMID:22870294

  11. Benthic buffers and boosters of ocean acidification on coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Anthony, K. R. N.; Diaz-Pulido, G.; Verlinden, N.; Tilbrook, B.; Andersson, A. J.

    2013-07-01

    Ocean acidification is a threat to marine ecosystems globally. In shallow-water systems, however, ocean acidification can be masked by benthic carbon fluxes, depending on community composition, seawater residence time, and the magnitude and balance of net community production (NCP) and calcification (NCC). Here, we examine how six benthic groups from a coral reef environment on Heron Reef (Great Barrier Reef, Australia) contribute to changes in the seawater aragonite saturation state (Ωa). Results of flume studies using intact reef habitats (1.2 m by 0.4 m), showed a hierarchy of responses across groups, depending on CO2 level, time of day and water flow. At low CO2 (350-450 μatm), macroalgae (Chnoospora implexa), turfs and sand elevated Ωa of the flume water by around 0.10 to 1.20 h-1 - normalised to contributions from 1 m2 of benthos to a 1 m deep water column. The rate of Ωa increase in these groups was doubled under acidification (560-700 μatm) and high flow (35 compared to 8 cm s-1). In contrast, branching corals (Acropora aspera) increased Ωa by 0.25 h-1 at ambient CO2 (350-450 μatm) during the day, but reduced Ωa under acidification and high flow. Nighttime changes in Ωa by corals were highly negative (0.6-0.8 h-1) and exacerbated by acidification. Calcifying macroalgae (Halimeda spp.) raised Ωa by day (by around 0.13 h-1), but lowered Ωa by a similar or higher amount at night. Analyses of carbon flux contributions from benthic communities with four different compositions to the reef water carbon chemistry across Heron Reef flat and lagoon indicated that the net lowering of Ωa by coral-dominated areas can to some extent be countered by long water-residence times in neighbouring areas dominated by turfs, macroalgae and carbonate sand.

  12. Effects of coral reef benthic primary producers on dissolved organic carbon and microbial activity.

    PubMed

    Haas, Andreas F; Nelson, Craig E; Wegley Kelly, Linda; Carlson, Craig A; Rohwer, Forest; Leichter, James J; Wyatt, Alex; Smith, Jennifer E

    2011-01-01

    Benthic primary producers in marine ecosystems may significantly alter biogeochemical cycling and microbial processes in their surrounding environment. To examine these interactions, we studied dissolved organic matter release by dominant benthic taxa and subsequent microbial remineralization in the lagoonal reefs of Moorea, French Polynesia. Rates of photosynthesis, respiration, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) release were assessed for several common benthic reef organisms from the backreef habitat. We assessed microbial community response to dissolved exudates of each benthic producer by measuring bacterioplankton growth, respiration, and DOC drawdown in two-day dark dilution culture incubations. Experiments were conducted for six benthic producers: three species of macroalgae (each representing a different algal phylum: Turbinaria ornata--Ochrophyta; Amansia rhodantha--Rhodophyta; Halimeda opuntia--Chlorophyta), a mixed assemblage of turf algae, a species of crustose coralline algae (Hydrolithon reinboldii) and a dominant hermatypic coral (Porites lobata). Our results show that all five types of algae, but not the coral, exuded significant amounts of labile DOC into their surrounding environment. In general, primary producers with the highest rates of photosynthesis released the most DOC and yielded the greatest bacterioplankton growth; turf algae produced nearly twice as much DOC per unit surface area than the other benthic producers (14.0±2.8 µmol h⁻¹ dm⁻²), stimulating rapid bacterioplankton growth (0.044±0.002 log10 cells h⁻¹) and concomitant oxygen drawdown (0.16±0.05 µmol L⁻¹ h⁻¹ dm⁻²). Our results demonstrate that benthic reef algae can release a significant fraction of their photosynthetically-fixed carbon as DOC, these release rates vary by species, and this DOC is available to and consumed by reef associated microbes. These data provide compelling evidence that benthic primary producers differentially influence reef microbial

  13. Effects of Coral Reef Benthic Primary Producers on Dissolved Organic Carbon and Microbial Activity

    PubMed Central

    Haas, Andreas F.; Nelson, Craig E.; Wegley Kelly, Linda; Carlson, Craig A.; Rohwer, Forest; Leichter, James J.; Wyatt, Alex; Smith, Jennifer E.

    2011-01-01

    Benthic primary producers in marine ecosystems may significantly alter biogeochemical cycling and microbial processes in their surrounding environment. To examine these interactions, we studied dissolved organic matter release by dominant benthic taxa and subsequent microbial remineralization in the lagoonal reefs of Moorea, French Polynesia. Rates of photosynthesis, respiration, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) release were assessed for several common benthic reef organisms from the backreef habitat. We assessed microbial community response to dissolved exudates of each benthic producer by measuring bacterioplankton growth, respiration, and DOC drawdown in two-day dark dilution culture incubations. Experiments were conducted for six benthic producers: three species of macroalgae (each representing a different algal phylum: Turbinaria ornata – Ochrophyta; Amansia rhodantha – Rhodophyta; Halimeda opuntia – Chlorophyta), a mixed assemblage of turf algae, a species of crustose coralline algae (Hydrolithon reinboldii) and a dominant hermatypic coral (Porites lobata). Our results show that all five types of algae, but not the coral, exuded significant amounts of labile DOC into their surrounding environment. In general, primary producers with the highest rates of photosynthesis released the most DOC and yielded the greatest bacterioplankton growth; turf algae produced nearly twice as much DOC per unit surface area than the other benthic producers (14.0±2.8 µmol h−1 dm−2), stimulating rapid bacterioplankton growth (0.044±0.002 log10 cells h−1) and concomitant oxygen drawdown (0.16±0.05 µmol L−1 h−1 dm−2). Our results demonstrate that benthic reef algae can release a significant fraction of their photosynthetically-fixed carbon as DOC, these release rates vary by species, and this DOC is available to and consumed by reef associated microbes. These data provide compelling evidence that benthic primary producers differentially influence reef

  14. Coral Reefs at the Northernmost Tip of Borneo: An Assessment of Scleractinian Species Richness Patterns and Benthic Reef Assemblages

    PubMed Central

    Waheed, Zarinah; van Mil, Harald G. J.; Syed Hussein, Muhammad Ali; Jumin, Robecca; Golam Ahad, Bobita; Hoeksema, Bert W.

    2015-01-01

    The coral reefs at the northernmost tip of Sabah, Borneo will be established under a marine protected area: the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) by the end of 2015. This area is a passage where the Sulu Sea meets the South China Sea and it is situated at the border of the area of maximum marine biodiversity, the Coral Triangle. The TMP includes fringing and patch reefs established on a relatively shallow sea floor. Surveys were carried out to examine features of the coral reefs in terms of scleractinian species richness, and benthic reef assemblages following the Reef Check substrate categories, with emphasis on hard coral cover. Variation in scleractinian diversity was based on the species composition of coral families Fungiidae (n = 39), Agariciidae (n = 30) and Euphylliidae (n = 15). The number of coral species was highest at reefs with a larger depth gradient i.e. at the periphery of the study area and in the deep South Banggi Channel. Average live hard coral cover across the sites was 49%. Only 7% of the examined reefs had > 75% hard coral cover, while the majority of the reef sites were rated fair (51%) and good (38%). Sites with low coral cover and high rubble fragments are evidence of blast fishing, although the observed damage appeared old. Depth was a dominant factor in influencing the coral species composition and benthic reef communities in the TMP. Besides filling in the information gaps regarding species richness and benthic cover for reef areas that were previously without any data, the results of this study together with information that is already available on the coral reefs of TMP will be used to make informed decisions on zoning plans for conservation priorities in the proposed park. PMID:26719987

  15. Benthic N2 fixation in coral reefs and the potential effects of human-induced environmental change

    PubMed Central

    Cardini, Ulisse; Bednarz, Vanessa N; Foster, Rachel A; Wild, Christian

    2014-01-01

    Tropical coral reefs are among the most productive and diverse ecosystems, despite being surrounded by ocean waters where nutrients are in short supply. Benthic dinitrogen (N2) fixation is a significant internal source of “new” nitrogen (N) in reef ecosystems, but related information appears to be sparse. Here, we review the current state (and gaps) of knowledge on N2 fixation associated with coral reef organisms and their ecosystems. By summarizing the existing literature, we show that benthic N2 fixation is an omnipresent process in tropical reef environments. Highest N2 fixation rates are detected in reef-associated cyanobacterial mats and sea grass meadows, clearly showing the significance of these functional groups, if present, to the input of new N in reef ecosystems. Nonetheless, key benthic organisms such as hard corals also importantly contribute to benthic N2 fixation in the reef. Given the usually high coral coverage of healthy reef systems, these results indicate that benthic symbiotic associations may be more important than previously thought. In fact, mutualisms between carbon (C) and N2 fixers have likely evolved that may enable reef communities to mitigate N limitation. We then explore the potential effects of the increasing human interferences on the process of benthic reef N2 fixation via changes in diazotrophic populations, enzymatic activities, or availability of benthic substrates favorable to these microorganisms. Current knowledge indicates positive effects of ocean acidification, warming, and deoxygenation and negative effects of increased ultraviolet radiation on the amount of N fixed in coral reefs. Eutrophication may either boost or suppress N2 fixation, depending on the nutrient becoming limiting. As N2 fixation appears to play a fundamental role in nutrient-limited reef ecosystems, these assumptions need to be expanded and confirmed by future research efforts addressing the knowledge gaps identified in this review. PMID:24967086

  16. Benthic N2 fixation in coral reefs and the potential effects of human-induced environmental change.

    PubMed

    Cardini, Ulisse; Bednarz, Vanessa N; Foster, Rachel A; Wild, Christian

    2014-05-01

    Tropical coral reefs are among the most productive and diverse ecosystems, despite being surrounded by ocean waters where nutrients are in short supply. Benthic dinitrogen (N2) fixation is a significant internal source of "new" nitrogen (N) in reef ecosystems, but related information appears to be sparse. Here, we review the current state (and gaps) of knowledge on N2 fixation associated with coral reef organisms and their ecosystems. By summarizing the existing literature, we show that benthic N2 fixation is an omnipresent process in tropical reef environments. Highest N2 fixation rates are detected in reef-associated cyanobacterial mats and sea grass meadows, clearly showing the significance of these functional groups, if present, to the input of new N in reef ecosystems. Nonetheless, key benthic organisms such as hard corals also importantly contribute to benthic N2 fixation in the reef. Given the usually high coral coverage of healthy reef systems, these results indicate that benthic symbiotic associations may be more important than previously thought. In fact, mutualisms between carbon (C) and N2 fixers have likely evolved that may enable reef communities to mitigate N limitation. We then explore the potential effects of the increasing human interferences on the process of benthic reef N2 fixation via changes in diazotrophic populations, enzymatic activities, or availability of benthic substrates favorable to these microorganisms. Current knowledge indicates positive effects of ocean acidification, warming, and deoxygenation and negative effects of increased ultraviolet radiation on the amount of N fixed in coral reefs. Eutrophication may either boost or suppress N2 fixation, depending on the nutrient becoming limiting. As N2 fixation appears to play a fundamental role in nutrient-limited reef ecosystems, these assumptions need to be expanded and confirmed by future research efforts addressing the knowledge gaps identified in this review. PMID:24967086

  17. Community dynamics of Pleistocene coral reefs during alternative climatic regimes.

    PubMed

    Tager, Danika; Webster, Jody M; Potts, Donald C; Renema, Willem; Braga, Juan C; Pandolfi, John M

    2010-01-01

    Reef ecosystems built during successive periods of Pleistocene sea level rise have shown remarkable persistence in coral community structure, but little is known of the ecological characteristics of reef communities during periods of low sea stands or sea level falls. We sampled the relative species abundance of coral, benthic foraminifera, and calcareous red algae communities from eight submerged coral reefs in the Huon Gulf, Papua New Guinea, which formed during successive sea level fall and lowstand periods over the past approximately kyr. We found that dissimilarity in coral species composition increased significantly with increasing time between reef-building events. However, neither coral diversity nor the taxonomic composition of benthic foraminifera and calcareous red algae assemblages varied significantly over time. The taxonomic composition of coral communities from lowstand reefs was significantly different from that of highstand reefs previously reported from the nearby Huon Peninsula. We interpret the community composition and temporal dynamics of lowstand reefs as a result of shifting energy regimes in the Huon Gulf, and differences between low and highstand reefs as a result of differences in the interaction between biotic and environmental factors between the Huon Gulf and Huon Peninsula. Regardless of the exact processes driving these trends, our study represents the first glimpse into the ecological dynamics of coral reefs during low sea level stands when climatic conditions for reef growth were much different and less optimal than during previously studied highstand periods. PMID:20380208

  18. Benthic foraminifera baseline assemblages from a coastal nearshore reef complex on the central Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Johnson, Jamie; Perry, Chris; Smithers, Scott; Morgan, Kyle

    2016-04-01

    Declining water quality due to river catchment modification since European settlement (c. 1850 A.D.) represents a major threat to the health of coral reefs on Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR), particularly for those located in the coastal waters of the GBR's inner-shelf. These nearshore reefs are widely perceived to be most susceptible to declining water quality owing to their close proximity to river point sources. Despite this, nearshore reefs have been relatively poorly studied with the impacts and magnitudes of environmental degradation still remaining unclear. This is largely due to ongoing debates concerning the significance of increased sediment yields against naturally high background sedimentary regimes. Benthic foraminifera are increasingly used as tools for monitoring environmental and ecological change on coral reefs. On the GBR, the majority of studies have focussed on the spatial distributions of contemporary benthic foraminiferal assemblages. While baseline assemblages from other environments (e.g. inshore reefs and mangroves) have been described, very few records exist for nearshore reefs. Here, we present preliminary results from the first palaeoecological study of foraminiferal assemblages of nearshore reefs on the central GBR. Cores were recovered from the nearshore reef complex at Paluma Shoals using percussion techniques. Recovery was 100%, capturing the entire Holocene reef sequence of the selected reef structures. Radiocarbon dating and subsequent age-depth modelling techniques were used to identify reef sequences pre-dating European settlement. Benthic foraminifera assemblages were reconstructed from the identified sequences to establish pre-European ecological baselines with the aim of providing a record of foraminiferal distribution during vertical reef accretion and against which contemporary ecological change may be assessed.

  19. Homogeneity of coral reef communities across 8 degrees of latitude in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea.

    PubMed

    Roberts, May B; Jones, Geoffrey P; McCormick, Mark I; Munday, Philip L; Neale, Stephen; Thorrold, Simon; Robitzch, Vanessa S N; Berumen, Michael L

    2016-04-30

    Coral reef communities between 26.8 °N and 18.6 °N latitude in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea were surveyed to provide baseline data and an assessment of fine-scale biogeography of communities in this region. Forty reefs along 1100 km of coastline were surveyed using depth-stratified visual transects of fish and benthic communities. Fish abundance and benthic cover data were analyzed using multivariate approaches to investigate whether coral reef communities differed with latitude. A total of 215 fish species and 90 benthic categories were recorded on the surveys. There were no significant differences among locations in fish abundance, species richness, or among several diversity indices. Despite known environmental gradients within the Red Sea, the communities remained surprisingly similar. The communities do, however, exhibit subtle changes across this span of reefs that likely reflect the constrained distributions of several species of reef fish and benthic fauna. PMID:26608504

  20. The evolution of reef communities

    SciTech Connect

    Fagerstrom, J.A.

    1987-01-01

    This book discusses the composition, structure, occurrence, and changes in reefs during the past 2 billion years. It emphasizes the functional roles of major groups (guilds) of reef-building, reef-destroying, and reed-dwelling organisms in the most complex of all marine communities. A structural model, based on modern reef guilds, is developed. Then the functional roles of each major reef-building higher biologic taxon (algae, sponges, coral, etc.) is determined, and, on this basis, each such taxon is assigned to a reef community guild. Next, the authors traces the geologic history and guild assignment of each major taxon through geologic time. The final chapter establishes a succession of ten major reef community types, and considers their extinction and recovery in the light of modern theories of cosmic and earthly events.

  1. Structure of Benthic Communities along the Taiwan Latitudinal Gradient.

    PubMed

    Ribas-Deulofeu, Lauriane; Denis, Vianney; De Palmas, Stéphane; Kuo, Chao-Yang; Hsieh, Hernyi Justin; Chen, Chaolun Allen

    2016-01-01

    The distribution and the structure of benthic assemblages vary with latitude. However, few studies have described benthic communities along large latitudinal gradients, and patterns of variation are not fully understood. Taiwan, lying between 21.90°N and 25.30°N, is located at the center of the Philippine-Japan arc and lies at the northern margin of coral reef development. A wide range of habitats is distributed along this latitudinal gradient, from extensive fringing coral reefs at the southern coast to non-reefal communities at the north. In this study, we examined the structure of benthic communities around Taiwan, by comparing its assemblages in four regions, analyzing the effects of the latitudinal gradient, and highlighting regional characteristics. A total of 25 sites, 125 transects, and 2,625 photographs were used to analyze the benthic communities. Scleractinian corals present an obvious gradient of increasing diversity from north to south, whereas macro-algae diversity is higher on the north-eastern coast. At the country scale, Taiwanese coral communities were dominated by turf algae (49%). At the regional scale, we observed an important heterogeneity that may be caused by local disturbances and habitat degradation that smooths out regional differences. In this context, our observations highlight the importance of managing local stressors responsible for reef degradation. Overall, this study provides an important baseline upon which future changes in benthic assemblages around Taiwan can be assessed. PMID:27513665

  2. Structure of Benthic Communities along the Taiwan Latitudinal Gradient

    PubMed Central

    De Palmas, Stéphane; Kuo, Chao-Yang; Hsieh, Hernyi Justin; Chen, Chaolun Allen

    2016-01-01

    The distribution and the structure of benthic assemblages vary with latitude. However, few studies have described benthic communities along large latitudinal gradients, and patterns of variation are not fully understood. Taiwan, lying between 21.90°N and 25.30°N, is located at the center of the Philippine-Japan arc and lies at the northern margin of coral reef development. A wide range of habitats is distributed along this latitudinal gradient, from extensive fringing coral reefs at the southern coast to non-reefal communities at the north. In this study, we examined the structure of benthic communities around Taiwan, by comparing its assemblages in four regions, analyzing the effects of the latitudinal gradient, and highlighting regional characteristics. A total of 25 sites, 125 transects, and 2,625 photographs were used to analyze the benthic communities. Scleractinian corals present an obvious gradient of increasing diversity from north to south, whereas macro-algae diversity is higher on the north-eastern coast. At the country scale, Taiwanese coral communities were dominated by turf algae (49%). At the regional scale, we observed an important heterogeneity that may be caused by local disturbances and habitat degradation that smooths out regional differences. In this context, our observations highlight the importance of managing local stressors responsible for reef degradation. Overall, this study provides an important baseline upon which future changes in benthic assemblages around Taiwan can be assessed. PMID:27513665

  3. Biogenic reefs affect multiple components of intertidal soft-bottom benthic assemblages: the Lanice conchilega case study

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    De Smet, Bart; D'Hondt, An-Sofie; Verhelst, Pieterjan; Fournier, Jérôme; Godet, Laurent; Desroy, Nicolas; Rabaut, Marijn; Vincx, Magda; Vanaverbeke, Jan

    2015-01-01

    Biogenic reefs composed of the tube-building polychaete Lanice conchilega are important from a conservation point of view because they noticeably increase the biodiversity in otherwise species poor environments. However, up to now, little or no attention has been paid to the intertidal epi- and hyperbenthic communities associated with the reefs. Therefore, this is the first study which focuses on the effect of L. conchilega reefs on the entire bentho-pelagic community at two different locations. Environmental variables were measured and macro-, epi- and hyperbenthic communities were sampled within a L. conchilega reef and a control area at two locations in France: the bay of the Mont Saint-Michel (BMSM) and Boulogne-sur-Mer (Boulogne). The effect of the reef presence on the benthic community was studied with a 3-factor (Reef, Location and Period) Permanova. In addition, the relationship between the benthic community and the environmental variables was investigated using Distance-based linear models (DistLM). Most collected organisms were sampled in the reef area (macrobenthos: 91%, epibenthos: 81% and hyperbenthos: 78.5%) indicating that, independent of the location, the L. conchilega reefs positively affect all three associated benthic communities. However, the extent of the effect seems to be most pronounced for the macrobenthos and less distinct in case of the hyperbenthos. The macro-, and epibenthos are mainly structured by biotic variables (L. conchilega density and macrobenthic food availability respectively), while the hyperbenthos is rather structured by environmental variables. In general, L. conchilega reefs do not only affect abundances and diversity but they substantially steer the structure of the intertidal benthic sandy beach ecosystem.

  4. Microbial diversity associated with four functional groups of benthic reef algae and the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis.

    PubMed

    Barott, Katie L; Rodriguez-Brito, Beltran; Janouškovec, Jan; Marhaver, Kristen L; Smith, Jennifer E; Keeling, Patrick; Rohwer, Forest L

    2011-05-01

    The coral reef benthos is primarily colonized by corals and algae, which are often in direct competition with one another for space. Numerous studies have shown that coral-associated Bacteria are different from the surrounding seawater and are at least partially species specific (i.e. the same bacterial species on the same coral species). Here we extend these microbial studies to four of the major ecological functional groups of algae found on coral reefs: upright and encrusting calcifying algae, fleshy algae, and turf algae, and compare the results to the communities found on the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis. It was found using 16S rDNA tag pyrosequencing that the different algal genera harbour characteristic bacterial communities, and these communities were generally more diverse than those found on corals. While the majority of coral-associated Bacteria were related to known heterotrophs, primarily consuming carbon-rich coral mucus, algal-associated communities harboured a high percentage of autotrophs. The majority of algal-associated autotrophic Bacteria were Cyanobacteria and may be important for nitrogen cycling on the algae. There was also a rich diversity of photosynthetic eukaryotes associated with the algae, including protists, diatoms, and other groups of microalgae. Together, these observations support the hypothesis that coral reefs are a vast landscape of distinctive microbial communities and extend the holobiont concept to benthic algae. PMID:21272183

  5. Extensive metazoan reefs from the Ediacaran Nama Group, Namibia: the rise of benthic suspension feeding.

    PubMed

    Wood, R; Curtis, A

    2015-03-01

    We describe new, ecologically complex reef types from the Ediacaran Nama Group, Namibia, dated at ~548 million years ago (Ma), where the earliest known skeletal metazoans, Cloudina riemkeae and Namacalathus, formed extensive reefs up to 20 m in height and width. C. riemkeae formed densely aggregating assemblages associated with microbialite and thrombolite, each from 30 to 100 mm high, which successively colonised former generations to create stacked laminar or columnar reef frameworks. C. riemkeae individuals show budding, multiple, radiating attachment sites and cementation between individuals. Isolated Namacalathus either intergrew with C. riemkeae or formed dense, monospecific aggregations succeeding C. riemkeae frameworks, providing a potential example of environmentally mediated ecological succession. Cloudina and Namacalathus also grow cryptically, either as pendent aggregations from laminar crypt ceilings in microbial framework reefs or as clusters associated with thrombolite attached to neptunian dyke walls. These reefs are notable for their size, exceeding that of the succeeding Lower Cambrian archaeocyath-microbial communities. The repeated colonisation shown by C. riemkeae of former assemblages implies philopatric larval aggregation to colonise limited favourable substrates. As such, not only were skeletal metazoans more important contributors to reef building in the Ediacaran, but there were also more variable reef types with more complex ecologies, than previously thought. Such an abundance of inferred suspension feeders with biomineralised skeletons indicates the efficient exploitation of new resources, more active carbon removal with a strengthened energy flow between planktic and benthic realms, and the rise of biological control over benthic carbonate production. These mark the prelude to the Cambrian Explosion and the modernisation of the global carbon cycle. PMID:25556318

  6. Reefs, sand and reef-like sand: A comparison of the benthic biodiversity of habitats in the Dutch Borkum Reef Grounds

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Coolen, Joop W. P.; Bos, Oscar G.; Glorius, Sander; Lengkeek, Wouter; Cuperus, Joël; van der Weide, Babeth; Agüera, Antonio

    2015-09-01

    Reefs play an important role in the distribution of species associated with hard substrates and are of value for biodiversity conservation. High densities of the habitat building annelid Lanice conchilega also increase local biodiversity. This study describes the benthic biodiversity of a rocky reef and its surrounding sand bottom with dense L. conchilega beds in the Borkum Reef Grounds, north of the island of Schiermonnikoog in the Dutch North Sea. A side-scan sonar survey revealed distinct seabed areas with high acoustic reflections, indicating the presence of hard substrate on the sandy seafloor. To ground truth the side-scan sonar data and make an inventory of the biodiversity of the observed habitats, a multi-method sampling approach (box corer, SCUBA airlift sampler and visual transects, drop-down camera) was used. This revealed (1) rocky reefs: a combination of gravel, stones and rocks; (2) individual rocks in a sandy environment; (3) sand with dense L. conchilega beds (> 1500 ind·m- 2) and (4) sand bottom habitat. A total of 193 taxa were found with many unique species per habitat. Species richness was significantly higher on sand when compared to the rocky reef (NB-GLM; p = 0.006), caused by the presence of dense L. conchilega beds (Poisson GLM; p < 0.001). Including dense L. conchilega beds as an additional habitat showed that these held a higher species richness than the rocky reefs (NB-GLM; p = 0.002), while sand without dense L. conchilega beds did not (NB-GLM; p = 0.14). Since the rocky reefs were present on a sandy bottom, the local biodiversity more than doubled with the presence of rocky reefs. The nMDS plot clearly separated the sand and rocky reef communities and also showed a clustering of dense L. conchilega beds within the sand samples. Each method detected unique species, demonstrating the value of a multi-method approach compared to e.g. box coring alone. This study identified several species previously unknown to the Borkum Reefs Grounds

  7. Dynamics of coral reef benthic assemblages of the Abrolhos Bank, eastern Brazil: inferences on natural and anthropogenic drivers.

    PubMed

    Francini-Filho, Ronaldo B; Coni, Ericka O C; Meirelles, Pedro M; Amado-Filho, Gilberto M; Thompson, Fabiano L; Pereira-Filho, Guilherme H; Bastos, Alex C; Abrantes, Douglas P; Ferreira, Camilo M; Gibran, Fernando Z; Güth, Arthur Z; Sumida, Paulo Y G; Oliveira, Nara L; Kaufman, Les; Minte-Vera, Carolina V; Moura, Rodrigo L

    2013-01-01

    The Abrolhos Bank (eastern Brazil) encompasses the largest and richest coral reefs of the South Atlantic. Coral reef benthic assemblages of the region were monitored from 2003 to 2008. Two habitats (pinnacles' tops and walls) were sampled per site with 3-10 sites sampled within different reef areas. Different methodologies were applied in two distinct sampling periods: 2003-2005 and 2006-2008. Spatial coverage and taxonomic resolution were lower in the former than in the latter period. Benthic assemblages differed markedly in the smallest spatial scale, with greater differences recorded between habitats. Management regimes and biomass of fish functional groups (roving and territorial herbivores) had minor influences on benthic assemblages. These results suggest that local environmental factors such as light, depth and substrate inclination exert a stronger influence on the structure of benthic assemblages than protection from fishing. Reef walls of unprotected coastal reefs showed highest coral cover values, with a major contribution of Montastraea cavernosa (a sediment resistant species that may benefit from low light levels). An overall negative relationship between fleshy macroalgae and slow-growing reef-building organisms (i.e. scleractinians and crustose calcareous algae) was recorded, suggesting competition between these organisms. The opposite trend (i.e. positive relationships) was recorded for turf algae and the two reef-building organisms, suggesting beneficial interactions and/or co-occurrence mediated by unexplored factors. Turf algae cover increased across the region between 2006 and 2008, while scleractinian cover showed no change. The need of a continued and standardized monitoring program, aimed at understanding drivers of change in community patterns, as well as to subsidize sound adaptive conservation and management measures, is highlighted. PMID:23365655

  8. Dynamics of Coral Reef Benthic Assemblages of the Abrolhos Bank, Eastern Brazil: Inferences on Natural and Anthropogenic Drivers

    PubMed Central

    Francini-Filho, Ronaldo B.; Coni, Ericka O. C.; Meirelles, Pedro M.; Amado-Filho, Gilberto M.; Thompson, Fabiano L.; Pereira-Filho, Guilherme H.; Bastos, Alex C.; Abrantes, Douglas P.; Ferreira, Camilo M.; Gibran, Fernando Z.; Güth, Arthur Z.; Sumida, Paulo Y. G.; Oliveira, Nara L.; Kaufman, Les; Minte-Vera, Carolina V.; Moura, Rodrigo L.

    2013-01-01

    The Abrolhos Bank (eastern Brazil) encompasses the largest and richest coral reefs of the South Atlantic. Coral reef benthic assemblages of the region were monitored from 2003 to 2008. Two habitats (pinnacles' tops and walls) were sampled per site with 3–10 sites sampled within different reef areas. Different methodologies were applied in two distinct sampling periods: 2003–2005 and 2006–2008. Spatial coverage and taxonomic resolution were lower in the former than in the latter period. Benthic assemblages differed markedly in the smallest spatial scale, with greater differences recorded between habitats. Management regimes and biomass of fish functional groups (roving and territorial herbivores) had minor influences on benthic assemblages. These results suggest that local environmental factors such as light, depth and substrate inclination exert a stronger influence on the structure of benthic assemblages than protection from fishing. Reef walls of unprotected coastal reefs showed highest coral cover values, with a major contribution of Montastraea cavernosa (a sediment resistant species that may benefit from low light levels). An overall negative relationship between fleshy macroalgae and slow-growing reef-building organisms (i.e. scleractinians and crustose calcareous algae) was recorded, suggesting competition between these organisms. The opposite trend (i.e. positive relationships) was recorded for turf algae and the two reef-building organisms, suggesting beneficial interactions and/or co-occurrence mediated by unexplored factors. Turf algae cover increased across the region between 2006 and 2008, while scleractinian cover showed no change. The need of a continued and standardized monitoring program, aimed at understanding drivers of change in community patterns, as well as to subsidize sound adaptive conservation and management measures, is highlighted. PMID:23365655

  9. Benthic metabolic feedbacks to carbonate chemistry on coral reefs:implications for ocean acidification

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Price, N.; Rohwer, F. L.; Stuart, S. A.; Andersson, A.; Smith, J.

    2012-12-01

    The metabolic activity of resident organisms can cause spatio-temporal variability in carbonate chemistry within the benthic boundary layer, and thus potentially buffer the global impacts of ocean acidification. But, little is known about the capacity for particular species assemblages to contribute to natural daily variability in carbonate chemistry. We encapsulated replicate areas (~3m2) of reef across six Northern Line Islands in the central Pacific for 24 hrs to quantify feedbacks to carbonate chemistry within the benthic boundary layer from community metabolism. Underneath each 'tent', we quantified relative abundance and biomass of each species of corals and algae. We coupled high temporal resolution time series data on the natural diurnal variability in pH, dissolved oxygen, salinity, and temperature (using autonomous sensors) with resident organisms' net community calcification and productivity rates (using change in total dissolved carbon and total alkalinity over time) to examine feedbacks from reef metabolism to boundary layer carbonate chemistry. These reefs experienced large ranges in pH (> 0.2 amplitude) each day, similar to the magnitude of 'acidification' expected over the next century. Daily benthic pH, pCO2, and aragonite saturation state (Ωaragonite) were contrasted with seasonal threshold values estimated from open ocean climatological data extrapolated at each island to determine relative inter-island feedbacks. Diurnal amplitude in pH, pCO2, and Ωaragonite at each island was dependent upon the resident species assemblage of the benthos and was particularly reliant upon the biomass, productivity, and calcification rate of Halimeda. Net primary productivity of fleshy algae (algal turfs and Lobophora spp.) predominated on degraded, inhabited islands where net community calcification was negligible. In contrast, the chemistry over reefs on 'pristine', uninhabited islands was driven largely by net calcification of calcareous algae and stony

  10. Topography, substratum and benthic macrofaunal relationships on a tropical mesophotic shelf margin, central Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bridge, T. C. L.; Done, T. J.; Beaman, R. J.; Friedman, A.; Williams, S. B.; Pizarro, O.; Webster, J. M.

    2011-03-01

    Habitats and ecological communities occurring in the mesophotic region of the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia, were investigated using autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) from 51 to 145 m. High-resolution multibeam bathymetry of the outer-shelf at Hydrographers Passage in the central GBR revealed submerged linear reefs with tops at 50, 55, 80, 90, 100 and 130 m separated by flat, sandy inter-reefal areas punctuated by limestone pinnacles. Cluster analysis of AUV images yielded five distinct site groups based on their benthic macrofauna, with rugosity and the presence of limestone reef identified as the most significant abiotic factors explaining the distribution of macrofaunal communities. Reef-associated macrofaunal communities occurred in three distinct depth zones: (1) a shallow (<60 m) community dominated by photosynthetic taxa, notably scleractinian corals, zooxanthellate octocorals and photosynthetic sponges; (2) a transitional community (60-75 m) comprising both zooxanthellate taxa and azooxanthellate taxa (notably gorgonians and antipatharians); and (3) an entirely azooxanthellate community (>75 m). The effects of depth and microhabitat topography on irradiance most likely play a critical role in controlling vertical zonation on reef substrates. The lower depth limits of zooxanthellate corals are significantly shallower than that observed in many other mesophotic coral ecosystems. This may be a result of resuspension of sediments from the sand sheets by strong currents and/or a consequence of cold water upwelling.

  11. Geomorphology and community structure of Middle Reef, central Great Barrier Reef, Australia: an inner-shelf turbid zone reef subject to episodic mortality events

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Browne, N. K.; Smithers, S. G.; Perry, C. T.

    2010-09-01

    Middle Reef is an inshore turbid zone reef located 4 km offshore from Townsville, Queensland, Australia. The reef consists of four current-aligned, interconnected reef patches that have reached sea level and formed reef flats. It is regularly exposed to high turbidity (up to 50 mg l-1) generated by wave-driven sediment resuspension or by episodic flood plumes. Middle Reef has a high mean hard coral cover (>39%), relatively low mean macro-algal cover (<15%) and a coral community comprising at least 81 hard coral species. Cluster analysis differentiated six benthic communities which were mapped onto the geomorphological structure of the reef to reveal a spatially patchy community mosaic that reflects hydrodynamic and sediment redistribution processes. Coral cover data collected annually from windward slope transects since 1993 show that coral cover has increased over the last ~15 years despite a history of episodic mortality events. Although episodic mortality may be interpreted as an indication of marginality, over decadal timescales, Middle Reef has recovered rapidly following mortality events and is clearly a resilient coral reef.

  12. Biogeochemical responses following coral mass spawning on the Great Barrier Reef: pelagic-benthic coupling

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wild, C.; Jantzen, C.; Struck, U.; Hoegh-Guldberg, O.; Huettel, M.

    2008-03-01

    This study quantified how the pulse of organic matter from the release of coral gametes triggered a chain of pelagic and benthic processes during an annual mass spawning event on the Australian Great Barrier Reef. Particulate organic matter (POM) concentrations in reef waters increased by threefold to 11-fold the day after spawning and resulted in a stimulation of pelagic oxygen consumption rates that lasted for at least 1 week. Water column microbial communities degraded the organic carbon of gametes of the broadcast-spawning coral Acropora millepora at a rate of >15% h-1, which is about three times faster than the degradation rate measured for larvae of the brooding coral Stylophora pistillata. Stable isotope signatures of POM in the water column reflected the fast transfer of organic matter from coral gametes into higher levels of the food chain, and the amount of POM reaching the seafloor immediately increased after coral spawning and then tailed-off in the next 2 weeks. Short-lasting phytoplankton blooms developed within a few days after the spawning event, indicating a prompt recycling of nutrients released through the degradation of spawning products. These data show the profound effects of coral mass spawning on the reef community and demonstrate the tight recycling of nutrients in this oligotrophic ecosystem.

  13. Unseen players shape benthic competition on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Barott, Katie L; Rohwer, Forest L

    2012-12-01

    Recent work has shown that hydrophilic and hydrophobic organic matter (OM) from algae disrupts the function of the coral holobiont and promotes the invasion of opportunistic pathogens, leading to coral morbidity and mortality. Here we refer to these dynamics as the (3)DAM [dissolved organic matter (DOM), direct contact, disease, algae and microbes] model. There is considerable complexity in coral-algae interactions; turf algae and macroalgae promote heterotrophic microbial overgrowth of coral, macroalgae also directly harm the corals via hydrophobic OM, whereas crustose coralline algae generally encourage benign microbial communities. In addition, complex flow patterns transport OM and pathogens from algae to downstream corals, and direct algal contact enhances their delivery. These invisible players (microbes, viruses, and OM) are important drivers of coral reefs because they have non-linear responses to disturbances and are the first to change in response to perturbations, providing near real-time trajectories for a coral reef, a vital metric for conservation and restoration. PMID:22944243

  14. Benthic primary production in an upwelling-influenced coral reef, Colombian Caribbean

    PubMed Central

    Bayraktarov, Elisa; Hauffe, Torsten; Pizarro, Valeria; Wilke, Thomas; Wild, Christian

    2014-01-01

    In Tayrona National Natural Park (Colombian Caribbean), abiotic factors such as light intensity, water temperature, and nutrient availability are subjected to high temporal variability due to seasonal coastal upwelling. These factors are the major drivers controlling coral reef primary production as one of the key ecosystem services. This offers the opportunity to assess the effects of abiotic factors on reef productivity. We therefore quantified primary net (Pn) and gross production (Pg) of the dominant local primary producers (scleractinian corals, macroalgae, algal turfs, crustose coralline algae, and microphytobenthos) at a water current/wave-exposed and-sheltered site in an exemplary bay of Tayrona National Natural Park. A series of short-term incubations was conducted to quantify O2 fluxes of the different primary producers during non-upwelling and the upwelling event 2011/2012, and generalized linear models were used to analyze group-specific O2 production, their contribution to benthic O2 fluxes, and total daily benthic O2 production. At the organism level, scleractinian corals showed highest Pn and Pg rates during non-upwelling (16 and 19 mmol O2 m−2 specimen area h−1), and corals and algal turfs dominated the primary production during upwelling (12 and 19 mmol O2 m−2 specimen area h−1, respectively). At the ecosystem level, corals contributed most to total Pn and Pg during non-upwelling, while during upwelling, corals contributed most to Pn and Pg only at the exposed site and macroalgae at the sheltered site, respectively. Despite the significant spatial and temporal differences in individual productivity of the investigated groups and their different contribution to reef productivity, differences for daily ecosystem productivity were only present for Pg at exposed with higher O2 fluxes during non-upwelling compared to upwelling. Our findings therefore indicate that total benthic primary productivity of local autotrophic reef communities is

  15. Relationships between benthic cover, current strength, herbivory, and a fisheries closure in Glovers Reef Atoll, Belize

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McClanahan, T.; Karnauskas, M.

    2011-03-01

    Benthic cover, current strengths, and fish abundance and diversity were examined on 150 lagoonal patch reefs and mapped to determine their distribution, inter-relationships, and relationship to the fisheries closure in Glovers Reef Atoll. Current strength was highest at both the northern and southern ends of the atoll and largely controlled by local wind and weakly by tidal forcing. Benthic functional group distributions varied throughout the atoll and had distinct areas of dominance. In contrast, dominance of coral species was weaker, reflecting the lost cover and zonation of Acropora, Porites, and Montastraea that were reported in the 1970s. Hard and soft corals dominated the windward rim, while the central and leeward lagoon had lower current strengths and sea grass and fleshy green algae were relatively more abundant. Brown erect algae were relatively more common in the north and calcifying green and red algae the southern ends of the atoll. Only Montastraea- Agaricia agaricites distributions were similar to reports from the 1970s with high relative dominance in the southern and northeast atoll. The central-northern zone, which was described as an Acropora zone in the 1970s, was not recognizable, and Porites porites, P. astreoides, Millepora alcicornis, and Favia fragum were the most abundant species during this survey . Hard and soft coral cover abundance declined away from the reef rim and tidal channels and was associated with fast seawater turnover and high surgeonfish abundance. Consequently, the windward rim area has retained the most original and persistent hard-soft coral and surgeonfish community and is considered a priority for future management, if the goal is to protect coral from fishing impacts.

  16. Effects of seawater acidification on a coral reef meiofauna community

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sarmento, V. C.; Souza, T. P.; Esteves, A. M.; Santos, P. J. P.

    2015-09-01

    Despite the increasing risk that ocean acidification will modify benthic communities, great uncertainty remains about how this impact will affect the lower trophic levels, such as members of the meiofauna. A mesocosm experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of water acidification on a phytal meiofauna community from a coral reef. Community samples collected from the coral reef subtidal zone (Recife de Fora Municipal Marine Park, Porto Seguro, Bahia, Brazil), using artificial substrate units, were exposed to a control pH (ambient seawater) and to three levels of seawater acidification (pH reductions of 0.3, 0.6, and 0.9 units below ambient) and collected after 15 and 30 d. After 30 d of exposure, major changes in the structure of the meiofauna community were observed in response to reduced pH. The major meiofauna groups showed divergent responses to acidification. Harpacticoida and Polychaeta densities did not show significant differences due to pH. Nematoda, Ostracoda, Turbellaria, and Tardigrada exhibited their highest densities in low-pH treatments (especially at the pH reduction of 0.6 units, pH 7.5), while harpacticoid nauplii were strongly negatively affected by low pH. This community-based mesocosm study supports previous suggestions that ocean acidification induces important changes in the structure of marine benthic communities. Considering the importance of meiofauna in the food web of coral reef ecosystems, the results presented here demonstrate that the trophic functioning of coral reefs is seriously threatened by ocean acidification.

  17. Ecology of the south Florida coral reefs: a community profile

    SciTech Connect

    Jaap, W.C.

    1984-08-01

    An overview of coral reef research in southern Florida is provided as a prelude to a genuine description of the coral reef ecosystem in the Florida Keys and surrounding environments. Coral reef community types, reef benthos, plankton and reef fish are given specific treatment. Coral reef ecology and management are described. 27 figs., 31 tabs.

  18. Field Spectroscopy And Spectral Analysis Of Caribbean Scleractinian Reef Corals And Related Benthic Biota

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Torres-Perez, J. L.; Guild, L. S.; Armstrong, R.; Corredor, J. E.; Polanco, R.; Zuluaga-Montero, A. B.

    2013-05-01

    Coral reefs are highly heterogenic ecosystems with a plethora of photosynthetic organisms forming most of the benthic communities. Usually coral reef benthos is a composite of reef corals, different groups of algae, seagrasses, sandy bottoms, dead rubble, and even mangrove forests living in a relatively small area. The remote characterization of these important tropical ecosystems represents a challenge to scientists, particularly due to the similarity of the spectral signatures among some of these components. As such, we examined the similarities and differences between nine Scleractinian Caribbean shallow-water reef corals' spectral reflectance curves. Samples were also collected from each species for pigment analysis using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Reflectance curves were obtained with the aid of a GER-1500 hand-held field spectroradiometer enclosed in an underwater housing. Our findings showed that even though most of the pigmentation was directly related to the relationship of corals with their symbiotic dinoflagellates (zooxanthellae), the presence of other endolithic photosynthetic organisms can also contribute to the light absorption of corals and, hence, the reflectance spectra of each species. Also, the relative contribution of chlorophylls vs. carotenes or xanthophylls depends on the coral species with some species relying more on Chlorophyll a and other species relying on Chlorophyl c2 and Peridinin with a small Chlorophyll a component. Pigments associated with the xanthophyll cycle of dinoflagellates (Diadinoxanthin and Diatoxanthin) were detected in most species. Pigments typical of endolithic organisms such as Zeaxanthin, Fucoxanthin, Violaxanthin and Siphonaxanthin were also detected in some coral species. The influence of major pigments on the reflectance curve was evidenced with a 2nd derivative analysis. This could be used to discriminate among most species. Further, an analysis of the integration of the area under the

  19. Effects of different disturbance types on butterflyfish communities of Australia's Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Emslie, M. J.; Pratchett, M. S.; Cheal, A. J.

    2011-06-01

    The effects of disturbances on coral reef fishes have been extensively documented but most studies have relied on opportunistic sampling following single events. Few studies have the spatial and temporal extent to directly compare the effects of multiple disturbances over a large geographic scale. Here, benthic communities and butterflyfishes on 47 reefs of the Great Barrier Reef were surveyed annually to examine their responses to physical disturbances (cyclones and storms) and/or biological disturbances (bleaching, outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish and white syndrome disease). The effects on benthic and butterflyfish communities varied among reefs depending on the structure and geographical setting of each community, on the size and type of disturbance, and on the disturbance history of that reef. There was considerable variability in the response of butterflyfishes to different disturbances: physical disturbances (occurring with or without biological disturbances) produced substantial declines in abundance, whilst biological disturbances occurring on their own did not. Butterflyfishes with the narrowest feeding preferences, such as obligate corallivores, were always the species most affected. The response of generalist feeders varied with the extent of damage. Wholesale changes to the butterflyfish community were only recorded where structural complexity of reefs was drastically reduced. The observed effects of disturbances on butterflyfishes coupled with predictions of increased frequency and intensity of disturbances sound a dire warning for the future of butterflyfish communities in particular and reef fish communities in general.

  20. Influence of stability and fragmentation of a worm-reef on benthic macrofauna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Godet, Laurent; Fournier, Jérôme; Jaffré, Mikaël; Desroy, Nicolas

    2011-05-01

    In coastal areas, reef-builder worms often are bio-engineers by structuring their physical and biological environment. Many studies showed that this engineering role is determined by the densities of the engineer species itself, the highest densities approximately corresponding to the most stable areas from a sedimentological point of view, and hosting the richest and the most diverse benthic fauna. Here, we tested the potential influence of the spatio-temporal dynamics and the spatial fragmentation of one of the largest European intertidal reefs generated by the marine worm Lanice conchilega (Pallas, 1766) (Annelida, Polychaeta) on the associated benthic macrofauna. We demonstrated that the worm densities do have a significant positive role on the abundance, biomass, species richness and species diversity of the benthic macrofauna and that the reef stability also significantly influences the biomass and species diversity. Moreover, the reef fragmentation has significant negative effects on the abundance, biomass and species richness. In addition to L. conchilega densities, the stability and the spatial fragmentation of the reef also significantly structure the associated benthic assemblages. This study demonstrates the interest of "benthoscape ecology" in understanding the role played by marine engineer species from a spatial point of view.

  1. Baseline Assessment of Mesophotic Reefs of the Vitória-Trindade Seamount Chain Based on Water Quality, Microbial Diversity, Benthic Cover and Fish Biomass Data.

    PubMed

    Meirelles, Pedro M; Amado-Filho, Gilberto M; Pereira-Filho, Guilherme H; Pinheiro, Hudson T; de Moura, Rodrigo L; Joyeux, Jean-Christophe; Mazzei, Eric F; Bastos, Alex C; Edwards, Robert A; Dinsdale, Elizabeth; Paranhos, Rodolfo; Santos, Eidy O; Iida, Tetsuya; Gotoh, Kazuyoshi; Nakamura, Shota; Sawabe, Tomoo; Rezende, Carlos E; Gadelha, Luiz M R; Francini-Filho, Ronaldo B; Thompson, Cristiane; Thompson, Fabiano L

    2015-01-01

    Seamounts are considered important sources of biodiversity and minerals. However, their biodiversity and health status are not well understood; therefore, potential conservation problems are unknown. The mesophotic reefs of the Vitória-Trindade Seamount Chain (VTC) were investigated via benthic community and fish surveys, metagenomic and water chemistry analyses, and water microbial abundance estimations. The VTC is a mosaic of reef systems and includes fleshy algae dominated rhodolith beds, crustose coralline algae (CCA) reefs, and turf algae dominated rocky reefs of varying health levels. Macro-carnivores and larger fish presented higher biomass at the CCA reefs (4.4 kg per frame) than in the rhodolith beds and rocky reefs (0.0 to 0.1 kg per frame). A larger number of metagenomic sequences identified as primary producers (e.g., Chlorophyta and Streptophyta) were found at the CCA reefs. However, the rocky reefs contained more diseased corals (>90%) than the CCA reefs (~40%) and rhodolith beds (~10%). Metagenomic analyses indicated a heterotrophic and fast-growing microbiome in rocky reef corals that may possibly lead to unhealthy conditions possibly enhanced by environmental features (e.g. light stress and high loads of labile dissolved organic carbon). VTC mounts represent important hotspots of biodiversity that deserve further conservation actions. PMID:26090804

  2. Baseline Assessment of Mesophotic Reefs of the Vitória-Trindade Seamount Chain Based on Water Quality, Microbial Diversity, Benthic Cover and Fish Biomass Data

    PubMed Central

    Meirelles, Pedro M.; Amado-Filho, Gilberto M.; Pereira-Filho, Guilherme H.; Pinheiro, Hudson T.; de Moura, Rodrigo L.; Joyeux, Jean-Christophe; Mazzei, Eric F.; Bastos, Alex C.; Edwards, Robert A.; Dinsdale, Elizabeth; Paranhos, Rodolfo; Santos, Eidy O.; Iida, Tetsuya; Gotoh, Kazuyoshi; Nakamura, Shota; Sawabe, Tomoo; Rezende, Carlos E.; Gadelha, Luiz M. R.; Francini-Filho, Ronaldo B.; Thompson, Cristiane; Thompson, Fabiano L.

    2015-01-01

    Seamounts are considered important sources of biodiversity and minerals. However, their biodiversity and health status are not well understood; therefore, potential conservation problems are unknown. The mesophotic reefs of the Vitória-Trindade Seamount Chain (VTC) were investigated via benthic community and fish surveys, metagenomic and water chemistry analyses, and water microbial abundance estimations. The VTC is a mosaic of reef systems and includes fleshy algae dominated rhodolith beds, crustose coralline algae (CCA) reefs, and turf algae dominated rocky reefs of varying health levels. Macro-carnivores and larger fish presented higher biomass at the CCA reefs (4.4 kg per frame) than in the rhodolith beds and rocky reefs (0.0 to 0.1 kg per frame). A larger number of metagenomic sequences identified as primary producers (e.g., Chlorophyta and Streptophyta) were found at the CCA reefs. However, the rocky reefs contained more diseased corals (>90%) than the CCA reefs (~40%) and rhodolith beds (~10%). Metagenomic analyses indicated a heterotrophic and fast-growing microbiome in rocky reef corals that may possibly lead to unhealthy conditions possibly enhanced by environmental features (e.g. light stress and high loads of labile dissolved organic carbon). VTC mounts represent important hotspots of biodiversity that deserve further conservation actions. PMID:26090804

  3. Biological community structure on patch reefs in Biscayne National Park, FL, USA.

    PubMed

    Kuffner, Ilsa B; Grober-Dunsmore, Rikki; Brock, John C; Hickey, T Don

    2010-05-01

    Coral reef ecosystem management benefits from continual quantitative assessment of the resources being managed, plus assessment of factors that affect distribution patterns of organisms in the ecosystem. In this study, we investigate the relationships among physical, benthic, and fish variables in an effort to help explain the distribution patterns of organisms on patch reefs within Biscayne National Park, FL, USA. We visited a total of 196 randomly selected sampling stations on 12 shallow (<10 m) patch reefs and measured physical variables (e.g., substratum rugosity, substratum type) and benthic and fish community variables. We also incorporated data on substratum rugosity collected remotely via airborne laser surveying (Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar-EAARL). Across all stations, only weak relationships were found between physical, benthic cover, and fish assemblage variables. Much of the variance was attributable to a "reef effect," meaning that community structure and organism abundances were more variable at stations among reefs than within reefs. However, when the reef effect was accounted for and removed statistically, patterns were detected. Within reefs, juvenile scarids were most abundant at stations with high coverage of the fleshy macroalgae Dictyota spp., and the calcified alga Halimeda tuna was most abundant at stations with low EAARL rugosity. Explanations for the overwhelming importance of "reef" in explaining variance in our dataset could include the stochastic arrangement of organisms on patch reefs related to variable larval recruitment in space and time and/or strong historical effects due to patchy disturbances (e.g., hurricanes, fishing), as well as legacy effects of prior residents ("priority" effects). PMID:19399634

  4. Linking Demographic Processes of Juvenile Corals to Benthic Recovery Trajectories in Two Common Reef Habitats

    PubMed Central

    Doropoulos, Christopher; Ward, Selina; Roff, George; González-Rivero, Manuel; Mumby, Peter J.

    2015-01-01

    Tropical reefs are dynamic ecosystems that host diverse coral assemblages with different life-history strategies. Here, we quantified how juvenile (<50 mm) coral demographics influenced benthic coral structure in reef flat and reef slope habitats on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Permanent plots and settlement tiles were monitored every six months for three years in each habitat. These environments exhibited profound differences: the reef slope was characterised by 95% less macroalgal cover, and twice the amount of available settlement substrata and rates of coral settlement than the reef flat. Consequently, post-settlement coral survival in the reef slope was substantially higher than that of the reef flat, and resulted in a rapid increase in coral cover from 7 to 31% in 2.5 years. In contrast, coral cover on the reef flat remained low (~10%), whereas macroalgal cover increased from 23 to 45%. A positive stock-recruitment relationship was found in brooding corals in both habitats; however, brooding corals were not directly responsible for the observed changes in coral cover. Rather, the rapid increase on the reef slope resulted from high abundances of broadcast spawning Acropora recruits. Incorporating our results into transition matrix models demonstrated that most corals escape mortality once they exceed 50 mm, but for smaller corals mortality in brooders was double those of spawners (i.e. acroporids and massive corals). For corals on the reef flat, sensitivity analysis demonstrated that growth and mortality of larger juveniles (21–50 mm) highly influenced population dynamics; whereas the recruitment, growth and mortality of smaller corals (<20 mm) had the highest influence on reef slope population dynamics. Our results provide insight into the population dynamics and recovery trajectories in disparate reef habitats, and highlight the importance of acroporid recruitment in driving rapid increases in coral cover following large-scale perturbation

  5. Stable isotope analysis reveals community-level variation in fish trophodynamics across a fringing coral reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wyatt, A. S. J.; Waite, A. M.; Humphries, S.

    2012-12-01

    In contrast to trophodynamic variations, the marked zonation in physical and biological processes across coral reefs and the concomitant changes in habitat and community structure are well documented. In this study, we demonstrate consistent spatial changes in the community-level trophodynamics of 46 species of fish across the fringing Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, using tissue stable isotope and fatty acid analyses. Increasing nitrogen (δ15N) and decreasing carbon (δ13C) isotope ratios in the tissues of herbivores, planktivores and carnivores with increasing proximity to the ocean were indicative of increased reliance on oceanic productivity. In contrast, detritivores and corallivores displayed no spatial change in δ15N or δ13C, indicative of the dependence on reef-derived material across the reef. Higher δ13C, as well as increased benthic- and bacterial-specific fatty acids, suggested reliance on reef-derived production increased in back-reef habitats. Genus-level analyses supported community- and trophic group-level trends, with isotope modelling of species from five genera ( Abudefduf sexfasciatus, Chromis viridis, Dascyllus spp., Pomacentrus spp. and Stegastes spp.), demonstrating declining access to oceanic zooplankton and, in the case of Pomacentrus spp. and Stegastes spp., a switch to herbivory in the back-reef. The spatial changes in fish trophodynamics suggest that the relative roles of oceanic and reef-derived nutrients warrant more detailed consideration in reef-level community ecology.

  6. Assessing the effects of non-point source pollution on American Samoa's coral reef communities.

    PubMed

    Houk, Peter; Didonato, Guy; Iguel, John; Van Woesik, Robert

    2005-08-01

    Surveys were completed on Tutuila Island, American Samoa, to characterize reef development and assess the impacts of non-point source pollution on adjacent coral reefs at six sites. Multivariate analyses of benthic and coral community data found similar modern reef development at three locations; Aoa, Alofau, and Leone. These sites are situated in isolated bays with gentle sloping foundations. Aoa reefs had the highest estimates of crustose coralline algae cover and coral species richness, while Leone and Alofau showed high abundances of macroalgae and Porites corals. Aoa has the largest reef flat between watershed discharge and the reef slope, and the lowest human population density. Masefau and Fagaalu have a different geomorphology consisting of cemented staghorn coral fragments and steep slopes, however, benthic and coral communities were not similar. Benthic data suggest Fagaalu is heavily impacted compared with all other sites. Reef communities were assessed as bio-criteria indicators for waterbody health, using the EPA aquatic life use support designations of (1) fully supportive, (2) partially supportive, and (3) non-supportive for aquatic life. All sites resulted in a partially supportive ranking except Fagaalu, which was non-supportive. The results of this rapid assessment based upon relative benthic community measures are less desirable than long-term dataset analyses from monitoring programs, however it fills an important role for regulatory agencies required to report annual waterbody assessments. Future monitoring sites should be established to increase the number of replicates within each geological and physical setting to allow for meaningful comparisons along a gradient of hypothesized pollution levels. PMID:16418902

  7. Coral-associated bacterial communities on Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.

    PubMed

    Ceh, Janja; Van Keulen, Mike; Bourne, David G

    2011-01-01

    Coral-associated microbial communities from three coral species (Pocillopora damicornis, Acropora tenuis and Favites abdita) were examined every 3 months (January, March, June, October) over a period of 1 year on Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Tissue from corals was collected throughout the year and additional sampling of coral mucus and seawater samples was performed in January. Tissue samples were also obtained in October from P. damicornis coral colonies on Rottnest Island off Perth, 1200 km south of Ningaloo Reef, to provide comparisons between coral-microbial associates in different locations. The community structures of the coral-associated microorganisms were analysed using phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA gene clone libraries, which demonstrated highly diverse microbial profiles among all the coral species sampled. Principal component analysis revealed that samples grouped according to time and not species, indicating that coral-microbial associations may be a result of environmental drivers such as oceanographic characteristics, benthic community structure and temperature. Tissue samples from P. damicornis at Rottnest Island revealed similarities in bacteria to the samples at Ningaloo Reef. This study highlights that coral-associated microbial communities are highly diverse; however, the complex interactions that determine the stability of these associations are not necessarily dependent on coral host specificity. PMID:21044100

  8. Floating mucus aggregates derived from benthic microorganisms on rocky intertidal reefs: Potential as food sources for benthic animals

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tamura, Y.; Tsuchiya, M.

    2011-09-01

    Mucus films, flocs or foams consisting of fine sand, algae and detritus frequently occur in the surface waters of rocky intertidal reef flats during incoming tide. These masses are referred to as mucus aggregates. We examined the developmental process of mucus aggregates and their abundance, distribution, migration and trophic composition. The trophic composition of mucus aggregates was then compared to those of sediments to evaluate their potential nutritional value for benthic animals. The organic matter content, chlorophyll a concentration, microalgal density and bacteria-derived fatty acid contents of mucus aggregates were higher than those observed in sediment, suggesting that mucus aggregates contain not only high levels of organic matter but also dense concentrations of microalgae and bacteria; therefore, mucus aggregates may serve as a qualitatively more energetic food source for benthic fauna compared to sediments. Benthic diatoms were the most abundant organisms in mucus aggregates. Large numbers of diatoms were trapped in fine mineral particles and mucilage-like strings, suggesting that a portion of the mucus is secreted by these benthic microalgae. Mucus aggregate accounted for only 0.01-3.9% of the daily feeding requirements of the dominant detritivore, Ophiocoma scolopendrina (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea) over the entire sampling area. In contrast, for the species population on the back reef, where mucus aggregates ultimately accumulate, mucus aggregates provided from 0.4 to 113.3% of food for this species. These results suggest that mucus aggregate availability varies spatiotemporally and that they do not always provide adequate food sources for O. scolopendrina populations.

  9. A geospatial assessment of the relationship between reef flat community calcium carbonate production and wave energy

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hamylton, S. M.; Pescud, A.; Leon, J. X.; Callaghan, D. P.

    2013-12-01

    The ability of benthic communities inhabiting coral reefs to produce calcium carbonate underpins the development of reef platforms and associated sedimentary landforms, as well as the fixation of inorganic carbon and buffering of diurnal pH fluctuations in ocean surface waters. Quantification of the relationship between reef flat community calcium carbonate production and wave energy provides an empirical basis for understanding and managing this functionally important process. This study employs geospatial techniques across the reef platform at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, to (1) map the distribution and estimate the total magnitude of reef community carbonate production and (2) empirically ascertain the influence of wave energy on community carbonate production. A World-View-2 satellite image and a field data set of 364 ground referencing points are employed, along with data on physical reef characteristics (e.g. bathymetry, rugosity) to map and validate the spatial distribution of the four major community carbonate producers (live coral, carbonate sand, green calcareous macroalgae and encrusting calcified algae) across the reef platform. Carbonate production is estimated for the complete reef platform from the composition of these community components. A synoptic model of wave energy is developed using the Simulating WAves Nearshore (SWAN) two-dimensional model for the entire reef platform. The relationship between locally derived measures of carbonate production and wave energy is evaluated at both the global scale and local scale along spatial gradients of wave energy traversing the reef platform. A wave energy threshold is identified, below which carbonate production levels appear to increase with wave energy and above which mechanical forcing reduces community production. This implies an optimal set of hydrodynamic conditions characterized by wave energy levels of approximately 300 J m-2, providing an empirical basis for management of potential changes

  10. Biological community structure on patch reefs in Biscayne National Park, FL, USA

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Grober-Dunsmore, Rikki; Brock, John C.; Hickey, T. Don

    2010-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystem management benefits from continual quantitative assessment of the resources being managed, plus assessment of factors that affect distribution patterns of organisms in the ecosystem. In this study, we investigate the relationships among physical, benthic, and fish variables in an effort to help explain the distribution patterns of organisms on patch reefs within Biscayne National Park, FL, USA. We visited a total of 196 randomly selected sampling stations on 12 shallow (<10 m) patch reefs and measured physical variables (e.g., substratum rugosity, substratum type) and benthic and fish community variables. We also incorporated data on substratum rugosity collected remotely via airborne laser surveying (Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar—EAARL). Across all stations, only weak relationships were found between physical, benthic cover, and fish assemblage variables. Much of the variance was attributable to a “reef effect,” meaning that community structure and organism abundances were more variable at stations among reefs than within reefs. However, when the reef effect was accounted for and removed statistically, patterns were detected. Within reefs, juvenile scarids were most abundant at stations with high coverage of the fleshy macroalgae Dictyota spp., and the calcified alga Halimeda tuna was most abundant at stations with low EAARL rugosity. Explanations for the overwhelming importance of “reef” in explaining variance in our dataset could include the stochastic arrangement of organisms on patch reefs related to variable larval recruitment in space and time and/or strong historical effects due to patchy disturbances (e.g., hurricanes, fishing), as well as legacy effects of prior residents (“priority” effects).

  11. Biological Communities and Geomorphology of Patch Reefs in Biscayne National Park, Florida, U.S.A.

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Brock, John C.; Grober-Dunsmore, Rikki; Hickey, T. Don; Bonito, Victor; Bracone, Jeremy E.; Wright, C. Wayne

    2008-01-01

    Coral reef ecosystem management benefits from continual, quantitative assessment of the resources being managed, plus assessment of factors that affect distribution patterns of organisms in the ecosystem. In this study, we investigated the relationships among physical, benthic, and fish variables in effort to help explain the distribution patterns of ecologically and economically important species on twelve patch reefs within Biscayne National Park (BNP), Florida, U.S.A. We visited 196 randomly-located sampling stations across twelve shallow (< 10m) patch reefs, using SCUBA to conduct our surveys. We measured physical variables (e.g., substratum type), estimated the percent cover of benthic community members (e.g., coral, algae), and counted and estimated mean size for each fish species observed. We also used high-density bathymetric data collected remotely via airborne laser surveying (Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL)) to calculate rugosity (bumpiness) of the reef habitat. Here we present our findings visually by graphing our quantitative community and physical structure data simultaneously in a GIS map format. You will see that biological organisms arrange themselves on each patch reef in a non-random manner. For example, many species of fish prefer to locate themselves in areas of the reef where the rugosity index is high. Rugose parts of the reef provide them with good hiding places from predators. These maps (and the data used to create them) are permanent records of the status of reef resources found on these twelve patch reefs in BNP as of September, 2003. The survey data found in the shapefile located on this CD product includes benthic percent cover data for algae, coral, encrusting invertebrates, and substratum type, in addition to gorgonian abundance and volume, total fish abundance and species richness, and specific counts for Acanthurids (surgeonfish), Scarids (parrotfish), Lutjanids (snappers), Haemulids (grunts), Serranids

  12. Benthic Primary Production Budget of a Caribbean Reef Lagoon (Puerto Morelos, Mexico)

    PubMed Central

    Naumann, Malik S.; Jantzen, Carin; Haas, Andreas F.; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto; Wild, Christian

    2013-01-01

    High photosynthetic benthic primary production (P) represents a key ecosystem service provided by tropical coral reef systems. However, benthic P budgets of specific ecosystem compartments such as macrophyte-dominated reef lagoons are still scarce. To address this, we quantified individual and lagoon-wide net (Pn) and gross (Pg) primary production by all dominant functional groups of benthic primary producers in a typical macrophyte-dominated Caribbean reef lagoon near Puerto Morelos (Mexico) via measurement of O2 fluxes in incubation experiments. The photosynthetically active 3D lagoon surface area was quantified using conversion factors to allow extrapolation to lagoon-wide P budgets. Findings revealed that lagoon 2D benthic cover was primarily composed of sand-associated microphytobenthos (40%), seagrasses (29%) and macroalgae (27%), while seagrasses dominated the lagoon 3D surface area (84%). Individual Pg was highest for macroalgae and scleractinian corals (87 and 86 mmol O2 m−2 specimen area d−1, respectively), however seagrasses contributed highest (59%) to the lagoon-wide Pg. Macroalgae exhibited highest individual Pn rates, but seagrasses generated the largest fraction (51%) of lagoon-wide Pn. Individual R was highest for scleractinian corals and macroalgae, whereas seagrasses again provided the major lagoon-wide share (68%). These findings characterise the investigated lagoon as a net autotrophic coral reef ecosystem compartment revealing similar P compared to other macrophyte-dominated coastal environments such as seagrass meadows and macroalgae beds. Further, high lagoon-wide P (Pg: 488 and Pn: 181 mmol O2 m−2 lagoon area d−1) and overall Pg:R (1.6) indicate substantial benthic excess production within the Puerto Morelos reef lagoon and suggest the export of newly synthesised organic matter to surrounding ecosystems. PMID:24367570

  13. Organic matter degradation drives benthic cyanobacterial mat abundance on Caribbean coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Brocke, Hannah J; Polerecky, Lubos; de Beer, Dirk; Weber, Miriam; Claudet, Joachim; Nugues, Maggy M

    2015-01-01

    Benthic cyanobacterial mats (BCMs) are impacting coral reefs worldwide. However, the factors and mechanisms driving their proliferation are unclear. We conducted a multi-year survey around the Caribbean island of Curaçao, which revealed highest BCM abundance on sheltered reefs close to urbanised areas. Reefs with high BCM abundance were also characterised by high benthic cover of macroalgae and low cover of corals. Nutrient concentrations in the water-column were consistently low, but markedly increased just above substrata (both sandy and hard) covered with BCMs. This was true for sites with both high and low BCM coverage, suggesting that BCM growth is stimulated by a localised, substrate-linked release of nutrients from the microbial degradation of organic matter. This hypothesis was supported by a higher organic content in sediments on reefs with high BCM coverage, and by an in situ experiment which showed that BCMs grew within days on sediments enriched with organic matter (Spirulina). We propose that nutrient runoff from urbanised areas stimulates phototrophic blooms and enhances organic matter concentrations on the reef. This organic matter is transported by currents and settles on the seabed at sites with low hydrodynamics. Subsequently, nutrients released from the organic matter degradation fuel the growth of BCMs. Improved management of nutrients generated on land should lower organic loading of sediments and other benthos (e.g. turf and macroalgae) to reduce BCM proliferation on coral reefs. PMID:25941812

  14. Organic Matter Degradation Drives Benthic Cyanobacterial Mat Abundance on Caribbean Coral Reefs

    PubMed Central

    Brocke, Hannah J.; Polerecky, Lubos; de Beer, Dirk; Weber, Miriam; Claudet, Joachim; Nugues, Maggy M.

    2015-01-01

    Benthic cyanobacterial mats (BCMs) are impacting coral reefs worldwide. However, the factors and mechanisms driving their proliferation are unclear. We conducted a multi-year survey around the Caribbean island of Curaçao, which revealed highest BCM abundance on sheltered reefs close to urbanised areas. Reefs with high BCM abundance were also characterised by high benthic cover of macroalgae and low cover of corals. Nutrient concentrations in the water-column were consistently low, but markedly increased just above substrata (both sandy and hard) covered with BCMs. This was true for sites with both high and low BCM coverage, suggesting that BCM growth is stimulated by a localised, substrate-linked release of nutrients from the microbial degradation of organic matter. This hypothesis was supported by a higher organic content in sediments on reefs with high BCM coverage, and by an in situ experiment which showed that BCMs grew within days on sediments enriched with organic matter (Spirulina). We propose that nutrient runoff from urbanised areas stimulates phototrophic blooms and enhances organic matter concentrations on the reef. This organic matter is transported by currents and settles on the seabed at sites with low hydrodynamics. Subsequently, nutrients released from the organic matter degradation fuel the growth of BCMs. Improved management of nutrients generated on land should lower organic loading of sediments and other benthos (e.g. turf and macroalgae) to reduce BCM proliferation on coral reefs. PMID:25941812

  15. Benthic Foraminifera as ecological indicators for water quality on the Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Uthicke, Sven; Nobes, Kristie

    2008-07-01

    Benthic foraminifera are established indicators for Water Quality (WQ) in Florida and the Caribbean. However, nearshore coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and other Pacific regions are also subjected to increased nutrient and sediment loads. Here, we investigate the use of benthic foraminifera as indicators to assess status and trends of WQ on GBR reefs. We quantified several sediment parameters and the foraminiferan assemblage composition on 20 reefs in four geographic regions of the GBR, and along a water column nutrient and turbidity gradient. Twenty-seven easily recognisable benthic foraminiferan taxa (>63 μm) were distinguished. All four geographic regions differed significantly ( p < 0.05, ANOSIM) in their assemblage composition, and a redundancy analysis (RDA) showed that sediment parameters only explained a small proportion of the variance in the assemblage composition. On nine reefs along a previously studied water quality gradient, foraminifera showed a distinct shift in assemblage composition towards larger symbiont-bearing taxa from turbid inner shelf towards clearer outer shelf reefs. A RDA separated symbiotic and aposymbiotic (heterotrophic) taxa. In addition, total suspended solid and water column chlorophyll a concentrations were negatively correlated, and optical depth and distance to the mainland were positively correlated, with the abundance of symbiont-bearing taxa. Several large foraminifera were identified as indicators for offshore, clear water conditions. In contrast, heterotrophic rotaliids and a species retaining plastids ( Elphidium sp.) where highly characteristic for low light, higher nutrient conditions. Application of the FORAM index to GBR assemblage composition showed a significant increase in the value of this index with increased distance from the mainland in the Whitsunday region ( r2 = 0.75, p < 0.001), and therefore with increasing light and decreased nutrient availability. We conclude that it will be possible to

  16. Re-evaluating the health of coral reef communities: baselines and evidence for human impacts across the central Pacific.

    PubMed

    Smith, Jennifer E; Brainard, Rusty; Carter, Amanda; Grillo, Saray; Edwards, Clinton; Harris, Jill; Lewis, Levi; Obura, David; Rohwer, Forest; Sala, Enric; Vroom, Peter S; Sandin, Stuart

    2016-01-13

    Numerous studies have documented declines in the abundance of reef-building corals over the last several decades and in some but not all cases, phase shifts to dominance by macroalgae have occurred. These assessments, however, often ignore the remainder of the benthos and thus provide limited information on the present-day structure and function of coral reef communities. Here, using an unprecedentedly large dataset collected within the last 10 years across 56 islands spanning five archipelagos in the central Pacific, we examine how benthic reef communities differ in the presence and absence of human populations. Using islands as replicates, we examine whether benthic community structure is associated with human habitation within and among archipelagos and across latitude. While there was no evidence for coral to macroalgal phase shifts across our dataset we did find that the majority of reefs on inhabited islands were dominated by fleshy non-reef-building organisms (turf algae, fleshy macroalgae and non-calcifying invertebrates). By contrast, benthic communities from uninhabited islands were more variable but in general supported more calcifiers and active reef builders (stony corals and crustose coralline algae). Our results suggest that cumulative human impacts across the central Pacific may be causing a reduction in the abundance of reef builders resulting in island scale phase shifts to dominance by fleshy organisms. PMID:26740615

  17. High dissolved organic carbon release by benthic cyanobacterial mats in a Caribbean reef ecosystem

    PubMed Central

    Brocke, Hannah J.; Wenzhoefer, Frank; de Beer, Dirk; Mueller, Benjamin; van Duyl, Fleur C.; Nugues, Maggy M.

    2015-01-01

    Benthic cyanobacterial mats (BCMs) are increasing in abundance on coral reefs worldwide. However, their impacts on biogeochemical cycling in the surrounding water and sediment are virtually unknown. By measuring chemical fluxes in benthic chambers placed over sediment covered by BCMs and sediment with BCMs removed on coral reefs in Curaçao, Southern Caribbean, we found that sediment covered by BCMs released 1.4 and 3.5 mmol C m−2 h−1 of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) during day and night, respectively. Conversely, sediment with BCMs removed took up DOC, with day and night uptake rates of 0.9 and 0.6 mmol C m−2 h−1. DOC release by BCMs was higher than reported rates for benthic algae (turf and macroalgae) and was estimated to represent 79% of the total DOC released over a 24 h diel cycle at our study site. The high nocturnal release of DOC by BCMs is most likely the result of anaerobic metabolism and degradation processes, as shown by high respiration rates at the mat surface during nighttime. We conclude that BCMs are significant sources of DOC. Their increased abundance on coral reefs will lead to increased DOC release into the water column, which is likely to have negative implications for reef health. PMID:25747523

  18. High dissolved organic carbon release by benthic cyanobacterial mats in a Caribbean reef ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brocke, Hannah J.; Wenzhoefer, Frank; de Beer, Dirk; Mueller, Benjamin; van Duyl, Fleur C.; Nugues, Maggy M.

    2015-03-01

    Benthic cyanobacterial mats (BCMs) are increasing in abundance on coral reefs worldwide. However, their impacts on biogeochemical cycling in the surrounding water and sediment are virtually unknown. By measuring chemical fluxes in benthic chambers placed over sediment covered by BCMs and sediment with BCMs removed on coral reefs in Curaçao, Southern Caribbean, we found that sediment covered by BCMs released 1.4 and 3.5 mmol C m-2 h-1 of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) during day and night, respectively. Conversely, sediment with BCMs removed took up DOC, with day and night uptake rates of 0.9 and 0.6 mmol C m-2 h-1. DOC release by BCMs was higher than reported rates for benthic algae (turf and macroalgae) and was estimated to represent 79% of the total DOC released over a 24 h diel cycle at our study site. The high nocturnal release of DOC by BCMs is most likely the result of anaerobic metabolism and degradation processes, as shown by high respiration rates at the mat surface during nighttime. We conclude that BCMs are significant sources of DOC. Their increased abundance on coral reefs will lead to increased DOC release into the water column, which is likely to have negative implications for reef health.

  19. High dissolved organic carbon release by benthic cyanobacterial mats in a Caribbean reef ecosystem.

    PubMed

    Brocke, Hannah J; Wenzhoefer, Frank; de Beer, Dirk; Mueller, Benjamin; van Duyl, Fleur C; Nugues, Maggy M

    2015-01-01

    Benthic cyanobacterial mats (BCMs) are increasing in abundance on coral reefs worldwide. However, their impacts on biogeochemical cycling in the surrounding water and sediment are virtually unknown. By measuring chemical fluxes in benthic chambers placed over sediment covered by BCMs and sediment with BCMs removed on coral reefs in Curaçao, Southern Caribbean, we found that sediment covered by BCMs released 1.4 and 3.5 mmol C m(-2) h(-1) of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) during day and night, respectively. Conversely, sediment with BCMs removed took up DOC, with day and night uptake rates of 0.9 and 0.6 mmol C m(-2) h(-1). DOC release by BCMs was higher than reported rates for benthic algae (turf and macroalgae) and was estimated to represent 79% of the total DOC released over a 24 h diel cycle at our study site. The high nocturnal release of DOC by BCMs is most likely the result of anaerobic metabolism and degradation processes, as shown by high respiration rates at the mat surface during nighttime. We conclude that BCMs are significant sources of DOC. Their increased abundance on coral reefs will lead to increased DOC release into the water column, which is likely to have negative implications for reef health. PMID:25747523

  20. The importance of large benthic foraminifera to reef island sediment budget and dynamics at Raine Island, northern Great Barrier Reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dawson, John L.; Smithers, Scott G.; Hua, Quan

    2014-10-01

    Low-lying reef islands are among the most vulnerable environments on earth to anthropogenic-induced climate change and sea-level rise over the next century because they are low, composed of unconsolidated sediment that is able to be mobilised by waves and currents, and depend on sediments supplied by reef organisms that are particularly sensitive to environmental changes (e.g. ocean temperatures and chemistry). Therefore, the spatial and temporal links between active carbonate production and island formation and dynamics are fundamental to predicting future island resilience, yet remain poorly quantified. In this paper we present results of a detailed geomorphological and sedimentological study of a reef and sand cay on the northern Great Barrier Reef. We provide an empirical investigation of the temporal linkages between sediment production and reef island development using a large collection of single grain AMS 14C dates. Large benthic foraminifera (LBF) are the single most important contributor to contemporary island sand mass (47%; ranging from 36% to 63%) at Raine Island, reflecting rapid rates of sediment production and delivery. Standing stock data reveal extremely high production rates on the reef (1.8 kg m- 2 yr- 1), while AMS 14C dates of single LBF tests indicate rapid rates of sediment transferral across the reef. We also demonstrate that age is statistically related to preservation and taphonomic grade (severely abraded tests > moderately abraded tests > pristine tests). We construct a contemporary reef and island sediment budget model for Raine Island that shows that LBF (Baculogypsina, Marginopora and Amphistegina) contribute 55% of the sediment produced on the reef annually, of which a large proportion (54%) contribute to the net annual accretion of the island. The tight temporal coupling between LBF growth and island sediment supply combined with the sensitivity of LBF to bleaching and ocean acidification suggests that islands dominated by LBF are

  1. Perturbation and change in coral reef communities.

    PubMed

    Porter, J W; Battey, J F; Smith, G J

    1982-03-01

    Ninety-six percent of surveyed shallow-water Dry Tortugas reef corals died during the severe winter of 1976-1977. Data from skeletal stains indicate that death occurred during the mid-January intrusion of 14 degrees C water onto the reef. In deeper water, community parameters such as percent cover, species number, and relative abundance showed no significant change. However, an analysis of competitive interactions at the growing edges of adjacent colonies reveals a 70% reduction in space competition during this environmental disturbance. These results can explain high variability in the growth rate of Floridian reefs and demonstrate the importance of obtaining long-term spatial information to interpret successional dynamics of complex communities. PMID:16578761

  2. Between-Habitat Variation of Benthic Cover, Reef Fish Assemblage and Feeding Pressure on the Benthos at the Only Atoll in South Atlantic: Rocas Atoll, NE Brazil

    PubMed Central

    Longo, G. O.; Morais, R. A.; Martins, C. D. L.; Mendes, T. C.; Aued, A. W.; Cândido, D. V.; de Oliveira, J. C.; Nunes, L. T.; Fontoura, L.; Sissini, M. N.; Teschima, M. M.; Silva, M. B.; Ramlov, F.; Gouvea, L. P.; Ferreira, C. E. L.; Segal, B.; Horta, P. A.; Floeter, S. R.

    2015-01-01

    The Southwestern Atlantic harbors unique and relatively understudied reef systems, including the only atoll in South Atlantic: Rocas atoll. Located 230 km off the NE Brazilian coast, Rocas is formed by coralline red algae and vermetid mollusks, and is potentially one of the most “pristine” areas in Southwestern Atlantic. We provide the first comprehensive and integrative description of the fish and benthic communities inhabiting different shallow reef habitats of Rocas. We studied two contrasting tide pool habitats: open pools, which communicate with the open ocean even during low tides, thus more exposed to wave action; and closed pools, which remain isolated during low tide and are comparatively less exposed. Reef fish assemblages, benthic cover, algal turfs and fish feeding pressure on the benthos remarkably varied between open and closed pools. The planktivore Thalassoma noronhanum was the most abundant fish species in both habitats. In terms of biomass, the lemon shark Negaprion brevirostris and the omnivore Melichtys niger were dominant in open pools, while herbivorous fishes (mainly Acanthurus spp.) prevailed in closed pools. Overall benthic cover was dominated by algal turfs, composed of articulated calcareous algae in open pools and non-calcified algae in closed pools. Feeding pressure was dominated by acanthurids and was 10-fold lower in open pools than in closed pools. Besides different wave exposure conditions, such pattern could also be related to the presence of sharks in open pools, prompting herbivorous fish to feed more in closed pools. This might indirectly affect the structure of reef fish assemblages and benthic communities. The macroalgae Digenea simplex, which is uncommon in closed pools and abundant in the reef flat, was highly preferred in herbivory assays, indicating that herbivory by fishes might be shaping this distribution pattern. The variations in benthic and reef fish communities, and feeding pressure on the benthos between open

  3. Between-Habitat Variation of Benthic Cover, Reef Fish Assemblage and Feeding Pressure on the Benthos at the Only Atoll in South Atlantic: Rocas Atoll, NE Brazil.

    PubMed

    Longo, G O; Morais, R A; Martins, C D L; Mendes, T C; Aued, A W; Cândido, D V; de Oliveira, J C; Nunes, L T; Fontoura, L; Sissini, M N; Teschima, M M; Silva, M B; Ramlov, F; Gouvea, L P; Ferreira, C E L; Segal, B; Horta, P A; Floeter, S R

    2015-01-01

    The Southwestern Atlantic harbors unique and relatively understudied reef systems, including the only atoll in South Atlantic: Rocas atoll. Located 230 km off the NE Brazilian coast, Rocas is formed by coralline red algae and vermetid mollusks, and is potentially one of the most "pristine" areas in Southwestern Atlantic. We provide the first comprehensive and integrative description of the fish and benthic communities inhabiting different shallow reef habitats of Rocas. We studied two contrasting tide pool habitats: open pools, which communicate with the open ocean even during low tides, thus more exposed to wave action; and closed pools, which remain isolated during low tide and are comparatively less exposed. Reef fish assemblages, benthic cover, algal turfs and fish feeding pressure on the benthos remarkably varied between open and closed pools. The planktivore Thalassoma noronhanum was the most abundant fish species in both habitats. In terms of biomass, the lemon shark Negaprion brevirostris and the omnivore Melichtys niger were dominant in open pools, while herbivorous fishes (mainly Acanthurus spp.) prevailed in closed pools. Overall benthic cover was dominated by algal turfs, composed of articulated calcareous algae in open pools and non-calcified algae in closed pools. Feeding pressure was dominated by acanthurids and was 10-fold lower in open pools than in closed pools. Besides different wave exposure conditions, such pattern could also be related to the presence of sharks in open pools, prompting herbivorous fish to feed more in closed pools. This might indirectly affect the structure of reef fish assemblages and benthic communities. The macroalgae Digenea simplex, which is uncommon in closed pools and abundant in the reef flat, was highly preferred in herbivory assays, indicating that herbivory by fishes might be shaping this distribution pattern. The variations in benthic and reef fish communities, and feeding pressure on the benthos between open and

  4. Effectiveness of benthic foraminiferal and coral assemblages as water quality indicators on inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Uthicke, S.; Thompson, A.; Schaffelke, B.

    2010-03-01

    Although the debate about coral reef decline focuses on global disturbances (e.g., increasing temperatures and acidification), local stressors (nutrient runoff and overfishing) continue to affect reef health and resilience. The effectiveness of foraminiferal and hard-coral assemblages as indicators of changes in water quality was assessed on 27 inshore reefs along the Great Barrier Reef. Environmental variables (i.e., several water quality and sediment parameters) and the composition of both benthic foraminiferal and hard-coral assemblages differed significantly between four regions (Whitsunday, Burdekin, Fitzroy, and the Wet Tropics). Grain size and organic carbon and nitrogen content of sediments, and a composite water column parameter (based on turbidity and concentrations of particulate matter) explained a significant amount of variation in the data (tested by redundancy analyses) in both assemblages. Heterotrophic species of foraminifera were dominant in sediments with high organic content and in localities with low light availability, whereas symbiont-bearing mixotrophic species were dominant elsewhere. A similar suite of parameters explained 89% of the variation in the FORAM index (a Caribbean coral reef health indicator) and 61% in foraminiferal species richness. Coral richness was not related to environmental setting. Coral assemblages varied in response to environmental variables, but were strongly shaped by acute disturbances (e.g., cyclones, Acanthaster planci outbreaks, and bleaching), thus different coral assemblages may be found at sites with the same environmental conditions. Disturbances also affect foraminiferal assemblages, but they appeared to recover more rapidly than corals. Foraminiferal assemblages are effective bioindicators of turbidity/light regimes and organic enrichment of sediments on coral reefs.

  5. Benthic assemblages on artificial reefs in the northwestern Adriatic Sea: does structure type and age matter?

    PubMed

    Ponti, Massimo; Fava, Federica; Perlini, Rossella Angela; Giovanardi, Otello; Abbiati, Marco

    2015-03-01

    The use of artificial reefs is on the rise worldwide. While their fish aggregating effects are well known, the epibenthic assemblages have been poorly investigated. Two types of artificial reefs (pyramids of concrete slabs and bundles of concrete tubes) have been deployed out of the Po River Delta in 2006 and 2010. The epibenthic assemblages were investigated in 2009 and 2012. Benthic assemblages on both structure typologies were dominated by species tolerating high sedimentation rates. Dissimilarities were found among assemblages with different ages, and, in less extend, between reef typologies. Colonisation by Mytilus galloprovincialis and other major space occupiers did not follow a clear succession pattern and was not affected by reef typology. Species colonisation was likely driven by variability in environmental conditions and recruitment processes rather than by reef typology. This study suggests that environmental features of the deployment sites should be carefully considered in planning and designing artificial reefs, especially in eutrophic and turbid coastal waters, exposed to high river loads. PMID:25569857

  6. Benthic composition of a healthy subtropical reef: baseline species-level cover, with an emphasis on algae, in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

    PubMed

    Vroom, Peter S; Braun, Cristi L

    2010-01-01

    The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) are considered to be among the most pristine coral reef ecosystems remaining on the planet. These reefs naturally contain a high percent cover of algal functional groups with relatively low coral abundance and exhibit thriving fish communities dominated by top predators. Despite their highly protected status, these reefs are at risk from both direct and indirect anthropogenic sources. This study provides the first comprehensive data on percent coverage of algae, coral, and non-coral invertebrates at the species level, and investigates spatial diversity patterns across the archipelago to document benthic communities before further environmental changes occur in response to global warming and ocean acidification. Monitoring studies show that non-calcified macroalgae cover a greater percentage of substrate than corals on many high latitude reef sites. Forereef habitats in atoll systems often contain high abundances of the green macroalga Microdictyon setchellianum and the brown macroalga Lobophora variegata, yet these organisms were uncommon in forereefs of non-atoll systems. Species of the brown macroalgal genera Padina, Sargassum, and Stypopodium and the red macroalgal genus Laurencia became increasingly common in the two northernmost atolls of the island chain but were uncommon components of more southerly islands. Conversely, the scleractinian coral Porites lobata was common on forereefs at southern islands but less common at northern islands. Currently accepted paradigms of what constitutes a "healthy" reef may not apply to the subtropical NWHI, and metrics used to gauge reef health (e.g., high coral cover) need to be reevaluated. PMID:20305808

  7. Habitat dynamics, marine reserve status, and the decline and recovery of coral reef fish communities.

    PubMed

    Williamson, David H; Ceccarelli, Daniela M; Evans, Richard D; Jones, Geoffrey P; Russ, Garry R

    2014-02-01

    Severe climatic disturbance events often have major impacts on coral reef communities, generating cycles of decline and recovery, and in some extreme cases, community-level phase shifts from coral-to algal-dominated states. Benthic habitat changes directly affect reef fish communities, with low coral cover usually associated with low fish diversity and abundance. No-take marine reserves (NTRs) are widely advocated for conserving biodiversity and enhancing the sustainability of exploited fish populations. Numerous studies have documented positive ecological and socio-economic benefits of NTRs; however, the ability of NTRs to ameliorate the effects of acute disturbances on coral reefs has seldom been investigated. Here, we test these factors by tracking the dynamics of benthic and fish communities, including the important fishery species, coral trout (Plectropomus spp.), over 8 years in both NTRs and fished areas in the Keppel Island group, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Two major disturbances impacted the reefs during the monitoring period, a coral bleaching event in 2006 and a freshwater flood plume in 2011. Both disturbances generated significant declines in coral cover and habitat complexity, with subsequent declines in fish abundance and diversity, and pronounced shifts in fish assemblage structure. Coral trout density also declined in response to the loss of live coral, however, the approximately 2:1 density ratio between NTRs and fished zones was maintained over time. The only post-disturbance refuges for coral trout spawning stocks were within the NTRs that escaped the worst effects of the disturbances. Although NTRs had little discernible effect on the temporal dynamics of benthic or fish communities, it was evident that the post-disturbance refuges for coral trout spawning stocks within some NTRs may be critically important to regional-scale population persistence and recovery. PMID:24634720

  8. Habitat dynamics, marine reserve status, and the decline and recovery of coral reef fish communities

    PubMed Central

    Williamson, David H; Ceccarelli, Daniela M; Evans, Richard D; Jones, Geoffrey P; Russ, Garry R

    2014-01-01

    Severe climatic disturbance events often have major impacts on coral reef communities, generating cycles of decline and recovery, and in some extreme cases, community-level phase shifts from coral-to algal-dominated states. Benthic habitat changes directly affect reef fish communities, with low coral cover usually associated with low fish diversity and abundance. No-take marine reserves (NTRs) are widely advocated for conserving biodiversity and enhancing the sustainability of exploited fish populations. Numerous studies have documented positive ecological and socio-economic benefits of NTRs; however, the ability of NTRs to ameliorate the effects of acute disturbances on coral reefs has seldom been investigated. Here, we test these factors by tracking the dynamics of benthic and fish communities, including the important fishery species, coral trout (Plectropomus spp.), over 8 years in both NTRs and fished areas in the Keppel Island group, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Two major disturbances impacted the reefs during the monitoring period, a coral bleaching event in 2006 and a freshwater flood plume in 2011. Both disturbances generated significant declines in coral cover and habitat complexity, with subsequent declines in fish abundance and diversity, and pronounced shifts in fish assemblage structure. Coral trout density also declined in response to the loss of live coral, however, the approximately 2:1 density ratio between NTRs and fished zones was maintained over time. The only post-disturbance refuges for coral trout spawning stocks were within the NTRs that escaped the worst effects of the disturbances. Although NTRs had little discernible effect on the temporal dynamics of benthic or fish communities, it was evident that the post-disturbance refuges for coral trout spawning stocks within some NTRs may be critically important to regional-scale population persistence and recovery. PMID:24634720

  9. Changes in coral reef communities across a natural gradient in seawater pH.

    PubMed

    Barkley, Hannah C; Cohen, Anne L; Golbuu, Yimnang; Starczak, Victoria R; DeCarlo, Thomas M; Shamberger, Kathryn E F

    2015-06-01

    Ocean acidification threatens the survival of coral reef ecosystems worldwide. The negative effects of ocean acidification observed in many laboratory experiments have been seen in studies of naturally low-pH reefs, with little evidence to date for adaptation. Recently, we reported initial data suggesting that low-pH coral communities of the Palau Rock Islands appear healthy despite the extreme conditions in which they live. Here, we build on that observation with a comprehensive statistical analysis of benthic communities across Palau's natural acidification gradient. Our analysis revealed a shift in coral community composition but no impact of acidification on coral richness, coralline algae abundance, macroalgae cover, coral calcification, or skeletal density. However, coral bioerosion increased 11-fold as pH decreased from the barrier reefs to the Rock Island bays. Indeed, a comparison of the naturally low-pH coral reef systems studied so far revealed increased bioerosion to be the only consistent feature among them, as responses varied across other indices of ecosystem health. Our results imply that whereas community responses may vary, escalation of coral reef bioerosion and acceleration of a shift from net accreting to net eroding reef structures will likely be a global signature of ocean acidification. PMID:26601203

  10. Changes in coral reef communities across a natural gradient in seawater pH

    PubMed Central

    Barkley, Hannah C.; Cohen, Anne L.; Golbuu, Yimnang; Starczak, Victoria R.; DeCarlo, Thomas M.; Shamberger, Kathryn E. F.

    2015-01-01

    Ocean acidification threatens the survival of coral reef ecosystems worldwide. The negative effects of ocean acidification observed in many laboratory experiments have been seen in studies of naturally low-pH reefs, with little evidence to date for adaptation. Recently, we reported initial data suggesting that low-pH coral communities of the Palau Rock Islands appear healthy despite the extreme conditions in which they live. Here, we build on that observation with a comprehensive statistical analysis of benthic communities across Palau’s natural acidification gradient. Our analysis revealed a shift in coral community composition but no impact of acidification on coral richness, coralline algae abundance, macroalgae cover, coral calcification, or skeletal density. However, coral bioerosion increased 11-fold as pH decreased from the barrier reefs to the Rock Island bays. Indeed, a comparison of the naturally low-pH coral reef systems studied so far revealed increased bioerosion to be the only consistent feature among them, as responses varied across other indices of ecosystem health. Our results imply that whereas community responses may vary, escalation of coral reef bioerosion and acceleration of a shift from net accreting to net eroding reef structures will likely be a global signature of ocean acidification. PMID:26601203

  11. Coral reef community composition in the context of disturbance history on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

    PubMed

    Graham, Nicholas A J; Chong-Seng, Karen M; Huchery, Cindy; Januchowski-Hartley, Fraser A; Nash, Kirsty L

    2014-01-01

    Much research on coral reefs has documented differential declines in coral and associated organisms. In order to contextualise this general degradation, research on community composition is necessary in the context of varied disturbance histories and the biological processes and physical features thought to retard or promote recovery. We conducted a spatial assessment of coral reef communities across five reefs of the central Great Barrier Reef, Australia, with known disturbance histories, and assessed patterns of coral cover and community composition related to a range of other variables thought to be important for reef dynamics. Two of the reefs had not been extensively disturbed for at least 15 years prior to the surveys. Three of the reefs had been severely impacted by crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and coral bleaching approximately a decade before the surveys, from which only one of them was showing signs of recovery based on independent surveys. We incorporated wave exposure (sheltered and exposed) and reef zone (slope, crest and flat) into our design, providing a comprehensive assessment of the spatial patterns in community composition on these reefs. Categorising corals into life history groupings, we document major coral community differences in the unrecovered reefs, compared to the composition and covers found on the undisturbed reefs. The recovered reef, despite having similar coral cover, had a different community composition from the undisturbed reefs, which may indicate slow successional processes, or a different natural community dominance pattern due to hydrology and other oceanographic factors. The variables that best correlated with patterns in the coral community among sites included the density of juvenile corals, herbivore fish biomass, fish species richness and the cover of macroalgae. Given increasing impacts to the Great Barrier Reef, efforts to mitigate local stressors will be imperative to encouraging coral communities to persist into

  12. Coral Reef Community Composition in the Context of Disturbance History on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    PubMed Central

    Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Chong-Seng, Karen M.; Huchery, Cindy; Januchowski-Hartley, Fraser A.; Nash, Kirsty L.

    2014-01-01

    Much research on coral reefs has documented differential declines in coral and associated organisms. In order to contextualise this general degradation, research on community composition is necessary in the context of varied disturbance histories and the biological processes and physical features thought to retard or promote recovery. We conducted a spatial assessment of coral reef communities across five reefs of the central Great Barrier Reef, Australia, with known disturbance histories, and assessed patterns of coral cover and community composition related to a range of other variables thought to be important for reef dynamics. Two of the reefs had not been extensively disturbed for at least 15 years prior to the surveys. Three of the reefs had been severely impacted by crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and coral bleaching approximately a decade before the surveys, from which only one of them was showing signs of recovery based on independent surveys. We incorporated wave exposure (sheltered and exposed) and reef zone (slope, crest and flat) into our design, providing a comprehensive assessment of the spatial patterns in community composition on these reefs. Categorising corals into life history groupings, we document major coral community differences in the unrecovered reefs, compared to the composition and covers found on the undisturbed reefs. The recovered reef, despite having similar coral cover, had a different community composition from the undisturbed reefs, which may indicate slow successional processes, or a different natural community dominance pattern due to hydrology and other oceanographic factors. The variables that best correlated with patterns in the coral community among sites included the density of juvenile corals, herbivore fish biomass, fish species richness and the cover of macroalgae. Given increasing impacts to the Great Barrier Reef, efforts to mitigate local stressors will be imperative to encouraging coral communities to persist into

  13. In-Situ Effects of Simulated Overfishing and Eutrophication on Benthic Coral Reef Algae Growth, Succession, and Composition in the Central Red Sea.

    PubMed

    Jessen, Christian; Roder, Cornelia; Villa Lizcano, Javier Felipe; Voolstra, Christian R; Wild, Christian

    2013-01-01

    Overfishing and land-derived eutrophication are major local threats to coral reefs and may affect benthic communities, moving them from coral dominated reefs to algal dominated ones. The Central Red Sea is a highly under-investigated area, where healthy coral reefs are contending against intense coastal development. This in-situ study investigated both the independent and combined effects of manipulated inorganic nutrient enrichment (simulation of eutrophication) and herbivore exclosure (simulation of overfishing) on benthic algae development. Light-exposed and shaded terracotta tiles were positioned at an offshore patch reef close to Thuwal, Saudi Arabia and sampled over a period of 4 months. Findings revealed that nutrient enrichment alone affected neither algal dry mass nor algae-derived C or N production. In contrast, herbivore exclusion significantly increased algal dry mass up to 300-fold, and in conjunction with nutrient enrichment, this total increased to 500-fold. Though the increase in dry mass led to a 7 and 8-fold increase in organic C and N content, respectively, the algal C/N ratio (18±1) was significantly lowered in the combined treatment relative to controls (26±2). Furthermore, exclusion of herbivores significantly increased the relative abundance of filamentous algae on the light-exposed tiles and reduced crustose coralline algae and non-coralline red crusts on the shaded tiles. The combination of the herbivore exclusion and nutrient enrichment treatments pronounced these effects. The results of our study suggest that herbivore reduction, particularly when coupled with nutrient enrichment, favors non-calcifying, filamentous algae growth with high biomass production, which thoroughly outcompetes the encrusting (calcifying) algae that dominates in undisturbed conditions. These results suggest that the healthy reefs of the Central Red Sea may experience rapid shifts in benthic community composition with ensuing effects for biogeochemical cycles if

  14. In-Situ Effects of Simulated Overfishing and Eutrophication on Benthic Coral Reef Algae Growth, Succession, and Composition in the Central Red Sea

    PubMed Central

    Jessen, Christian; Roder, Cornelia; Villa Lizcano, Javier Felipe; Voolstra, Christian R.; Wild, Christian

    2013-01-01

    Overfishing and land-derived eutrophication are major local threats to coral reefs and may affect benthic communities, moving them from coral dominated reefs to algal dominated ones. The Central Red Sea is a highly under-investigated area, where healthy coral reefs are contending against intense coastal development. This in-situ study investigated both the independent and combined effects of manipulated inorganic nutrient enrichment (simulation of eutrophication) and herbivore exclosure (simulation of overfishing) on benthic algae development. Light-exposed and shaded terracotta tiles were positioned at an offshore patch reef close to Thuwal, Saudi Arabia and sampled over a period of 4 months. Findings revealed that nutrient enrichment alone affected neither algal dry mass nor algae-derived C or N production. In contrast, herbivore exclusion significantly increased algal dry mass up to 300-fold, and in conjunction with nutrient enrichment, this total increased to 500-fold. Though the increase in dry mass led to a 7 and 8-fold increase in organic C and N content, respectively, the algal C/N ratio (18±1) was significantly lowered in the combined treatment relative to controls (26±2). Furthermore, exclusion of herbivores significantly increased the relative abundance of filamentous algae on the light-exposed tiles and reduced crustose coralline algae and non-coralline red crusts on the shaded tiles. The combination of the herbivore exclusion and nutrient enrichment treatments pronounced these effects. The results of our study suggest that herbivore reduction, particularly when coupled with nutrient enrichment, favors non-calcifying, filamentous algae growth with high biomass production, which thoroughly outcompetes the encrusting (calcifying) algae that dominates in undisturbed conditions. These results suggest that the healthy reefs of the Central Red Sea may experience rapid shifts in benthic community composition with ensuing effects for biogeochemical cycles if

  15. Anthropogenic perturbation of coral reef environments near Natal, Brazil: Clues from symbiont-bearing benthic foraminifera

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Eichler, P.; Vital, H.; Sen Gupta, B. K.

    2014-12-01

    Besides global stressors such as temperature rise and acidification, local anthropogenic disturbances, especially those connected with tourism, affect many Atlantic patch reefs off the Brazilian shore. Using reef-inhabiting foraminifera with algal symbionts as environmental indicators, we confirmed this problem in coastal reefs near Natal, Rio Grande do Norte. The foraminiferal community is particularly depauperate in the small reefs of Pirangi, about 25 km south of Natal (~6o S, water depth <5-m), showing the result of numerous tourists trampling or otherwise damaging the reef substrate. Shells of Amphistegina gibbosa, the characteristic reef foraminifer of tropical America, have an exceptionally patchy distribution here, with rare living individuals. A few other symbiont bearers, e.g. Archaias angulatus, Amphisorus hemprichii, and Heterostegina antillarum, are present, but in extremely small numbers. In general, the dominant species is Quinqueloculina lamarckiana, a eurytopic, small miliolid (without symbionts), but many specimens are brown or black, indicating a mixing of relict and living populations. Compared to known foraminiferal communities in other Brazilian reefs, species diversity at Pirangi is remarkably low. About 77 km north of Pirangi, in the more extensive patch reef system of Maracajaú, the foraminiferal community is apparently healthier, except in an area targeted for tourism. However, living Amphistegina is still rare, and the only living Amphisorus is found in seagrass habitats. In contrast, many symbiont-bearing taxa, including peneroplids (virtually absent in Pirangi and Maracajaú) exist in sizeable populations northwest of Maracajaú, in the small patch reefs of the drowned Açu river valley (~4o 50' S).

  16. Cold-water event of January 2010 results in catastrophic benthic mortality on patch reefs in the Florida Keys

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Colella, M. A.; Ruzicka, R. R.; Kidney, J. A.; Morrison, J. M.; Brinkhuis, V. B.

    2012-06-01

    The Florida Keys are periodically exposed to extreme cold-water events that can have pronounced effects on coral reef community structure. In January 2010, the Florida Keys experienced one of the coldest 12-day periods on record, during which water temperatures decreased below the lethal limit for many tropical reef taxa for several consecutive days. This study provides a quantitative assessment of the scleractinian mortality and acute changes to benthic cover at four patch reefs in the middle and upper Keys that coincided with this cold-water event. Significant decreases in benthic cover of scleractinian corals, gorgonians, sponges, and macroalgae were observed between summer 2009 and February 2010. Gorgonian cover declined from 25.6 ± 4.6% (mean ± SE) to 13.3 ± 2.7%, scleractinian cover from 17.6 ± 1.4% to 10.7 ± 0.9%, macroalgal cover from 8.2 ± 5.2% to 0.7 ± 0.3%, and sponge cover from 3.8 ± 1.4% to 2.3 ± 1.2%. Scleractinian mortality varied across sites depending upon the duration of lethal temperatures and the community composition. Montastraea annularis complex cover was reduced from 4.4 ± 2.4% to 0.6 ± 0.2%, and 93% of all colonies surveyed suffered complete or partial mortality. Complete or partial mortality was also observed in >50% of all Porites astreoides and Montastraea cavernosa colonies and resulted in a significant reduction in cover. When compared with historical accounts of cold-water-induced mortality, our results suggest that the 2010 winter mortality was one of the most severe on record. The level of coral mortality on patch reefs is of particular concern because corals in these habitats had previously demonstrated resistance against stressors (e.g., disease and warm-water bleaching) that had negatively affected corals in other habitats in the Florida Keys during recent decades.

  17. LATITUDINAL GRADIENTS IN BENTHIC COMMUNITY COMPOSITION IN WESTERN ATLANTIC ESTUARIES

    EPA Science Inventory

    The community structure of benthic macroinvertebrates from estuaries along the Atlantic coast of North America from Cape Cod, MA, to Biscayne Bay, FL, were compared. Benthic data were collected over a 5 year period (1990 to 1995) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Envi...

  18. Simulations of Long-Term Community Dynamics in Coral Reefs - How Perturbations Shape Trajectories

    PubMed Central

    Kubicek, Andreas; Muhando, Christopher; Reuter, Hauke

    2012-01-01

    Tropical coral reefs feature extraordinary biodiversity and high productivity rates in oligotrophic waters. Due to increasing frequencies of perturbations – anthropogenic and natural – many reefs are under threat. Such perturbations often have devastating effects on these unique ecosystems and especially if they occur simultaneously and amplify each other's impact, they might trigger a phase shift and create irreversible conditions. We developed a generic, spatially explicit, individual-based model in which competition drives the dynamics of a virtual benthic reef community – comprised of scleractinian corals and algae – under different environmental settings. Higher system properties, like population dynamics or community composition arise through self-organization as emergent properties. The model was parameterized for a typical coral reef site at Zanzibar, Tanzania and features coral bleaching and physical disturbance regimes as major sources of perturbations. Our results show that various types and modes (intensities and frequencies) of perturbations create diverse outcomes and that the switch from high diversity to single species dominance can be evoked by small changes in a key parameter. Here we extend the understanding of coral reef resilience and the identification of key processes, drivers and respective thresholds, responsible for changes in local situations. One future goal is to provide a tool which may aid decision making processes in management of coral reefs. PMID:23209397

  19. THE BENTHIC COMMUNITIES COMPARISON BETWEEN ORGANIC AND CONVENTIONAL RICE FIELDS.

    PubMed

    Kasamesiri, P; Thaimuangphol, W

    2015-01-01

    Rice fields are temporary wetlands prone to contamination from agricultural chemicals which affect their ecotoxicology and benthic community composition. The diversity of benthic fauna in both organic and conventional rice fields in Kalasin Province, Thailand was investigated. Benthos samples were collected by grab sampling from 20 stations in organic and conventional rice fields during one successive crop in August 2014. The number of benthic organisms found at each sampling station ranged from 16-518 and 24-137 individuals for organic and conventional rice fields, respectively. The benthic fauna in organic rice fields were dominated by crustaceans 41%, insects 31%, annelids 26%, and gastropods 2%. The conventional rice fields benthic fauna was composed of insects 51%, annelids 41%, and gastropods 8%. The abundance and composition of the benthic fauna demonstrated that organic rice farming practices are beneficial to sustaining the biodiversity in rice field ecosystems. PMID:27141733

  20. Project O.R.B (Operation Reef Ball): Creating Artificial Reefs, Educating the Community

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Phipps, A.

    2012-04-01

    of this artificial reef. Over 3,000 students have been reached through the educational outreach endeavors of Project O.R.B. This successful STEM project models the benefits of partnerships with universities, local K-12 public schools and community conservation organizations and provides students with authentic learning experiences. Students are able to have a positive impact on their local coral reef environment, their peers and their community through this comprehensive service-learning project.

  1. Trophic structure of vermetid reef community: High trophic diversity at small spatial scales

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Colombo, Francesca; Costa, Valentina; Dubois, Stanislas F.; Gianguzza, Paola; Mazzola, Antonio; Vizzini, Salvatrice

    2013-03-01

    Stable isotopes were used to investigate contributions of autochthonous (i.e. benthic: epilithon and macroalgae) and allochthonous (i.e. pelagic: phytoplankton) organic matter sources to the diet of suspension-feeders, grazers and predators associated to small reef-pools (cuvettes) created by the reef-building species Dendropoma petraeum in the north-western coast of Sicily (Italy). Contributions of potential food sources were calculated using Bayesian mixing-models and integrated to a multivariate approach to highlight the diversity of C and N pathways within Dendropoma cuvettes. Both pelagic and benthic organic matter sources were exploited by benthic consumers, although clear differences were revealed in the various species depending on their feeding strategy. Three different trophic pathways were identified: one based mainly on phytoplankton, one based mainly on macroalgae and a third one mainly on epilithon. Suspension-feeders seemed to rely mainly on allochthonous organic matter sources, while grazers showed a wider diet spectrum. Predators revealed a high specialization in each of the three food chains and showed a distinct reliance on organic matter originated from benthic or pelagic sources. Stable isotopes evidenced here a marked differentiation of the trophic niche within the cuvette-associated community, which allows minimizing competition in very space-limited conditions.

  2. Automated benthic counting of living and non-living components in Ngedarrak Reef, Palau via subsurface underwater video.

    PubMed

    Marcos, Ma Shiela Angeli; David, Laura; Peñaflor, Eileen; Ticzon, Victor; Soriano, Maricor

    2008-10-01

    We introduce an automated benthic counting system in application for rapid reef assessment that utilizes computer vision on subsurface underwater reef video. Video acquisition was executed by lowering a submersible bullet-type camera from a motor boat while moving across the reef area. A GPS and echo sounder were linked to the video recorder to record bathymetry and location points. Analysis of living and non-living components was implemented through image color and texture feature extraction from the reef video frames and classification via Linear Discriminant Analysis. Compared to common rapid reef assessment protocols, our system can perform fine scale data acquisition and processing in one day. Reef video was acquired in Ngedarrak Reef, Koror, Republic of Palau. Overall success performance ranges from 60% to 77% for depths of 1 to 3 m. The development of an automated rapid reef classification system is most promising for reef studies that need fast and frequent data acquisition of percent cover of living and nonliving components. PMID:18210202

  3. Sponge communities on Caribbean coral reefs are structured by factors that are top-down, not bottom-up.

    PubMed

    Pawlik, Joseph R; Loh, Tse-Lynn; McMurray, Steven E; Finelli, Christopher M

    2013-01-01

    Caribbean coral reefs have been transformed in the past few decades with the demise of reef-building corals, and sponges are now the dominant habitat-forming organisms on most reefs. Competing hypotheses propose that sponge communities are controlled primarily by predatory fishes (top-down) or by the availability of picoplankton to suspension-feeding sponges (bottom-up). We tested these hypotheses on Conch Reef, off Key Largo, Florida, by placing sponges inside and outside predator-excluding cages at sites with less and more planktonic food availability (15 m vs. 30 m depth). There was no evidence of a bottom-up effect on the growth of any of 5 sponge species, and 2 of 5 species grew more when caged at the shallow site with lower food abundance. There was, however, a strong effect of predation by fishes on sponge species that lacked chemical defenses. Sponges with chemical defenses grew slower than undefended species, demonstrating a resource trade-off between growth and the production of secondary metabolites. Surveys of the benthic community on Conch Reef similarly did not support a bottom-up effect, with higher sponge cover at the shallower depth. We conclude that the structure of sponge communities on Caribbean coral reefs is primarily top-down, and predict that removal of sponge predators by overfishing will shift communities toward faster-growing, undefended species that better compete for space with threatened reef-building corals. PMID:23667492

  4. Sponge Communities on Caribbean Coral Reefs Are Structured by Factors That Are Top-Down, Not Bottom-Up

    PubMed Central

    Pawlik, Joseph R.; Loh, Tse-Lynn; McMurray, Steven E.; Finelli, Christopher M.

    2013-01-01

    Caribbean coral reefs have been transformed in the past few decades with the demise of reef-building corals, and sponges are now the dominant habitat-forming organisms on most reefs. Competing hypotheses propose that sponge communities are controlled primarily by predatory fishes (top-down) or by the availability of picoplankton to suspension-feeding sponges (bottom-up). We tested these hypotheses on Conch Reef, off Key Largo, Florida, by placing sponges inside and outside predator-excluding cages at sites with less and more planktonic food availability (15 m vs. 30 m depth). There was no evidence of a bottom-up effect on the growth of any of 5 sponge species, and 2 of 5 species grew more when caged at the shallow site with lower food abundance. There was, however, a strong effect of predation by fishes on sponge species that lacked chemical defenses. Sponges with chemical defenses grew slower than undefended species, demonstrating a resource trade-off between growth and the production of secondary metabolites. Surveys of the benthic community on Conch Reef similarly did not support a bottom-up effect, with higher sponge cover at the shallower depth. We conclude that the structure of sponge communities on Caribbean coral reefs is primarily top-down, and predict that removal of sponge predators by overfishing will shift communities toward faster-growing, undefended species that better compete for space with threatened reef-building corals. PMID:23667492

  5. Non-Random Variability in Functional Composition of Coral Reef Fish Communities along an Environmental Gradient.

    PubMed

    Plass-Johnson, Jeremiah G; Taylor, Marc H; Husain, Aidah A A; Teichberg, Mirta C; Ferse, Sebastian C A

    2016-01-01

    Changes in the coral reef complex can affect predator-prey relationships, resource availability and niche utilisation in the associated fish community, which may be reflected in decreased stability of the functional traits present in a community. This is because particular traits may be favoured by a changing environment, or by habitat degradation. Furthermore, other traits can be selected against because degradation can relax the association between fishes and benthic habitat. We characterised six important ecological traits for fish species occurring at seven sites across a disturbed coral reef archipelago in Indonesia, where reefs have been exposed to eutrophication and destructive fishing practices for decades. Functional diversity was assessed using two complementary indices (FRic and RaoQ) and correlated to important environmental factors (live coral cover and rugosity, representing local reef health, and distance from shore, representing a cross-shelf environmental gradient). Indices were examined for both a change in their mean, as well as temporal (short-term; hours) and spatial (cross-shelf) variability, to assess whether fish-habitat association became relaxed along with habitat degradation. Furthermore, variability in individual traits was examined to identify the traits that are most affected by habitat change. Increases in the general reef health indicators, live coral cover and rugosity (correlated with distance from the mainland), were associated with decreases in the variability of functional diversity and with community-level changes in the abundance of several traits (notably home range size, maximum length, microalgae, detritus and small invertebrate feeding and reproductive turnover). A decrease in coral cover increased variability of RaoQ while rugosity and distance both inversely affected variability of FRic; however, averages for these indices did not reveal patterns associated with the environment. These results suggest that increased

  6. Non-Random Variability in Functional Composition of Coral Reef Fish Communities along an Environmental Gradient

    PubMed Central

    Plass-Johnson, Jeremiah G.; Taylor, Marc H.; Husain, Aidah A. A.; Teichberg, Mirta C.; Ferse, Sebastian C. A.

    2016-01-01

    Changes in the coral reef complex can affect predator-prey relationships, resource availability and niche utilisation in the associated fish community, which may be reflected in decreased stability of the functional traits present in a community. This is because particular traits may be favoured by a changing environment, or by habitat degradation. Furthermore, other traits can be selected against because degradation can relax the association between fishes and benthic habitat. We characterised six important ecological traits for fish species occurring at seven sites across a disturbed coral reef archipelago in Indonesia, where reefs have been exposed to eutrophication and destructive fishing practices for decades. Functional diversity was assessed using two complementary indices (FRic and RaoQ) and correlated to important environmental factors (live coral cover and rugosity, representing local reef health, and distance from shore, representing a cross-shelf environmental gradient). Indices were examined for both a change in their mean, as well as temporal (short-term; hours) and spatial (cross-shelf) variability, to assess whether fish-habitat association became relaxed along with habitat degradation. Furthermore, variability in individual traits was examined to identify the traits that are most affected by habitat change. Increases in the general reef health indicators, live coral cover and rugosity (correlated with distance from the mainland), were associated with decreases in the variability of functional diversity and with community-level changes in the abundance of several traits (notably home range size, maximum length, microalgae, detritus and small invertebrate feeding and reproductive turnover). A decrease in coral cover increased variability of RaoQ while rugosity and distance both inversely affected variability of FRic; however, averages for these indices did not reveal patterns associated with the environment. These results suggest that increased

  7. Invasive symbiont bearing (and other) foraminifera altering the community structure of eastern Mediterranean rocky reefs environments

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hyams-Kaphzan, Orit; Perelis Grossowicz, Lydia; Almogi-Labin, Ahuva

    2015-04-01

    The rocky reefs of the Israeli eastern Mediterranean shelf constitute a highly diverse marine ecosystem rich in macroalgae and calcareous organisms. The benthic foraminiferal community living in this ecosystem is rapidly changing due to massive invasion of symbiont bearing foraminifera (SBF) as well as other foraminiferal species of tropical origin. This trend facilitated by the ongoing increase in temperature enables more tropical species to adjust to the eastern Mediterranean habitats. In order to document the status of the benthic foraminiferal community structure rocky reefs at Akhziv (AK) and Carmel Head (CH), northern Israel were sampled by scuba diving. Different macroalgae species, including invasive ones, accommodating the live epiphytic benthic foraminifera were sampled twice a year at AK and in each season at CH in three depth intervals between 5-20 m, during 2013-4. The numerical abundance of the group ranges between 170-3500 #/10cc (wet macroalgae volume) without any significant difference in standing stocks within regions, water depths or macroalgae preference. In total 77 benthic foraminiferal species were identified 71 in CH and only 43 at AK. Species richness per site varied between 3 and 42 with higher values at CH. 25% of all species were aliens, mostly Lessepsian, that comprise on average 70% - 84% of the numerical abundance of AK and CH respectively. Cluster analysis using benthic foraminifera relative abundance data did not correlate with the different macroalgae species, water depths or seasonality, indicating that the foraminiferal community in the two regions is quite homogenous. Amphistegina lobifera a Lessepsian migrant is by far the most common species on the Israeli rocky reefs occurring in all samples and comprising 18-93% of the foraminiferal community. Heterostegina depressa behaves similarly to A. lobifera though it occurs in lower numbers. Pararotalia calcariformata, a recently arriving SBF occupies mainly shallow water sites at CH

  8. Oyster Reef Communities in the Chesapeake Bay: A Brief Primer. VORTEX: Virginia's Oyster Reef Teaching EXperience.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Harding, Juliana M.; Mann, Roger; Clark, Vicki P.

    This document introduces Virginia's Oyster Reef Teaching EXperience (VORTEX), which is an interdisciplinary program focusing on the importance of oyster reef communities in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. The VORTEX program uses field and laboratory experience supported by multimedia instruction. This document presents an overview on the biology of…

  9. Benthic Composition of a Healthy Subtropical Reef: Baseline Species-Level Cover, with an Emphasis on Algae, in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

    PubMed Central

    Vroom, Peter S.; Braun, Cristi L.

    2010-01-01

    The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) are considered to be among the most pristine coral reef ecosystems remaining on the planet. These reefs naturally contain a high percent cover of algal functional groups with relatively low coral abundance and exhibit thriving fish communities dominated by top predators. Despite their highly protected status, these reefs are at risk from both direct and indirect anthropogenic sources. This study provides the first comprehensive data on percent coverage of algae, coral, and non-coral invertebrates at the species level, and investigates spatial diversity patterns across the archipelago to document benthic communities before further environmental changes occur in response to global warming and ocean acidification. Monitoring studies show that non-calcified macroalgae cover a greater percentage of substrate than corals on many high latitude reef sites. Forereef habitats in atoll systems often contain high abundances of the green macroalga Microdictyon setchellianum and the brown macroalga Lobophora variegata, yet these organisms were uncommon in forereefs of non-atoll systems. Species of the brown macroalgal genera Padina, Sargassum, and Stypopodium and the red macroalgal genus Laurencia became increasingly common in the two northernmost atolls of the island chain but were uncommon components of more southerly islands. Conversely, the scleractinian coral Porites lobata was common on forereefs at southern islands but less common at northern islands. Currently accepted paradigms of what constitutes a “healthy” reef may not apply to the subtropical NWHI, and metrics used to gauge reef health (e.g., high coral cover) need to be reevaluated. PMID:20305808

  10. Late Pleistocene bryozoan reef mounds of the Great Australian Bight: Isotope stratigraphy and benthic foraminiferal record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Holbourn, Ann; Kuhnt, Wolfgang; James, Noel

    2002-08-01

    Cores from Sites 1129, 1131, and 1132 (Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 182) on the uppermost slope at the edge of the continental shelf in the Great Australian Bight reveal the existence of upper Pleistocene bryozoan reef mounds, previously only detected on seismic lines. Benthic foraminiferal oxygen isotope data for the last 450,000 years indicate that bryozoan reef mounds predominantly accumulated during periods of lower sea level and colder climate since stage 8 at Sites 1129 and 1132 and since stage 4 at the deeper Site 1131. During glacials and interstadials (stages 2-8) the combination of lowered sea level, increased upwelling, and absence of the Leeuwin Current probably led to an enhanced carbon flux at the seafloor that favored prolific bryozoan growth and mound formation at Site 1132. At Site 1129, higher temperatures and downwelling appear to have inhibited the full development of bryozoan mounds during stages 2-4. During that time, favorable hydrographic conditions for the growth of bryozoan mounds shifted downslope from Site 1129 to Site 1131. Superimposed on these glacial-interglacial fluctuations is a distinct long-term paleoceanographic change. Prior to stage 8, benthic foraminiferal assemblages indicate low carbon flux to the seafloor, and bryozoan mounds, although present closer inshore, did not accumulate significantly at Sites 1129 and 1132, even during glacials. Our results show that the interplay of sea level change (eustatic and local, linked to platform progradation), glacial-interglacial carbon flux fluctuations (linked to local hydrographic variations), and possibly long-term climatic change strongly influenced the evolution of the Great Australian Bight carbonate margin during the late Pleistocene.

  11. Abrolhos bank reef health evaluated by means of water quality, microbial diversity, benthic cover, and fish biomass data.

    PubMed

    Bruce, Thiago; Meirelles, Pedro M; Garcia, Gizele; Paranhos, Rodolfo; Rezende, Carlos E; de Moura, Rodrigo L; Filho, Ronaldo-Francini; Coni, Ericka O C; Vasconcelos, Ana Tereza; Amado Filho, Gilberto; Hatay, Mark; Schmieder, Robert; Edwards, Robert; Dinsdale, Elizabeth; Thompson, Fabiano L

    2012-01-01

    The health of the coral reefs of the Abrolhos Bank (Southwestern Atlantic) was characterized with a holistic approach using measurements of four ecosystem components: (i) inorganic and organic nutrient concentrations, [1] fish biomass, [1] macroalgal and coral cover and (iv) microbial community composition and abundance. The possible benefits of protection from fishing were particularly evaluated by comparing sites with varying levels of protection. Two reefs within the well-enforced no-take area of the National Marine Park of Abrolhos (Parcel dos Abrolhos and California) were compared with two unprotected coastal reefs (Sebastião Gomes and Pedra de Leste) and one legally protected but poorly enforced coastal reef (the "paper park" of Timbebas Reef). The fish biomass was lower and the fleshy macroalgal cover was higher in the unprotected reefs compared with the protected areas. The unprotected and protected reefs had similar seawater chemistry. Lower vibrio CFU counts were observed in the fully protected area of California Reef. Metagenome analysis showed that the unprotected reefs had a higher abundance of archaeal and viral sequences and more bacterial pathogens, while the protected reefs had a higher abundance of genes related to photosynthesis. Similar to other reef systems in the world, there was evidence that reductions in the biomass of herbivorous fishes and the consequent increase in macroalgal cover in the Abrolhos Bank may be affecting microbial diversity and abundance. Through the integration of different types of ecological data, the present study showed that protection from fishing may lead to greater reef health. The data presented herein suggest that protected coral reefs have higher microbial diversity, with the most degraded reef (Sebastião Gomes) showing a marked reduction in microbial species richness. It is concluded that ecological conditions in unprotected reefs may promote the growth and rapid evolution of opportunistic microbial pathogens

  12. Abrolhos Bank Reef Health Evaluated by Means of Water Quality, Microbial Diversity, Benthic Cover, and Fish Biomass Data

    PubMed Central

    Bruce, Thiago; Meirelles, Pedro M.; Garcia, Gizele; Paranhos, Rodolfo; Rezende, Carlos E.; de Moura, Rodrigo L.; Filho, Ronaldo-Francini; Coni, Ericka O. C.; Vasconcelos, Ana Tereza; Amado Filho, Gilberto; Hatay, Mark; Schmieder, Robert; Edwards, Robert; Dinsdale, Elizabeth; Thompson, Fabiano L.

    2012-01-01

    The health of the coral reefs of the Abrolhos Bank (southwestern Atlantic) was characterized with a holistic approach using measurements of four ecosystem components: (i) inorganic and organic nutrient concentrations, [1] fish biomass, [1] macroalgal and coral cover and (iv) microbial community composition and abundance. The possible benefits of protection from fishing were particularly evaluated by comparing sites with varying levels of protection. Two reefs within the well-enforced no-take area of the National Marine Park of Abrolhos (Parcel dos Abrolhos and California) were compared with two unprotected coastal reefs (Sebastião Gomes and Pedra de Leste) and one legally protected but poorly enforced coastal reef (the “paper park” of Timbebas Reef). The fish biomass was lower and the fleshy macroalgal cover was higher in the unprotected reefs compared with the protected areas. The unprotected and protected reefs had similar seawater chemistry. Lower vibrio CFU counts were observed in the fully protected area of California Reef. Metagenome analysis showed that the unprotected reefs had a higher abundance of archaeal and viral sequences and more bacterial pathogens, while the protected reefs had a higher abundance of genes related to photosynthesis. Similar to other reef systems in the world, there was evidence that reductions in the biomass of herbivorous fishes and the consequent increase in macroalgal cover in the Abrolhos Bank may be affecting microbial diversity and abundance. Through the integration of different types of ecological data, the present study showed that protection from fishing may lead to greater reef health. The data presented herein suggest that protected coral reefs have higher microbial diversity, with the most degraded reef (Sebastião Gomes) showing a marked reduction in microbial species richness. It is concluded that ecological conditions in unprotected reefs may promote the growth and rapid evolution of opportunistic microbial

  13. Applying data fusion techniques for benthic habitat mapping and monitoring in a coral reef ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhang, Caiyun

    2015-06-01

    Accurate mapping and effective monitoring of benthic habitat in the Florida Keys are critical in developing management strategies for this valuable coral reef ecosystem. For this study, a framework was designed for automated benthic habitat mapping by combining multiple data sources (hyperspectral, aerial photography, and bathymetry data) and four contemporary imagery processing techniques (data fusion, Object-based Image Analysis (OBIA), machine learning, and ensemble analysis). In the framework, 1-m digital aerial photograph was first merged with 17-m hyperspectral imagery and 10-m bathymetry data using a pixel/feature-level fusion strategy. The fused dataset was then preclassified by three machine learning algorithms (Random Forest, Support Vector Machines, and k-Nearest Neighbor). Final object-based habitat maps were produced through ensemble analysis of outcomes from three classifiers. The framework was tested for classifying a group-level (3-class) and code-level (9-class) habitats in a portion of the Florida Keys. Informative and accurate habitat maps were achieved with an overall accuracy of 88.5% and 83.5% for the group-level and code-level classifications, respectively.

  14. Variability in daily pH scales with coral reef accretion and community structure

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Price, N.; Martz, T.; Brainard, R. E.; Smith, J.

    2011-12-01

    Little is known about natural variability in pH in coastal waters and how resident organisms respond to current nearshore seawater conditions. We used autonomous sensors (SeaFETs) to record temperature and, for the first time, pH with high temporal (hourly observations; 7 months of sampling) resolution on the reef benthos (5-10m depth) at several islands (Kingman, Palmyra and Jarvis) within the newly designated Pacific Remote Island Areas Marine National Monument (PRIMNM) in the northern Line Islands; these islands are uninhabited and lack potentially confounding local impacts (e.g. pollution and overfishing). Recorded benthic pH values were compared with regional means and minimum thresholds based on seasonal amplitude estimated from surrounding open-ocean climatological data, which represent seawater chemistry values in the absence of feedback from the reef. Each SeaFET sensor was co-located with replicate Calcification/Acidification Units (CAUs) designed to quantify species abundances and net community calcification rates so we could determine which, if any, metrics of natural variability in benthic pH and temperature were related to community development and reef accretion rates. The observed range in daily pH encompassed maximums reported from the last century (8.104 in the early evening) to minimums approaching projected levels within the next 100 yrs (7.824 at dawn) for pelagic waters. Net reef calcification rates, measured as calcium carbonate accretion on CAUs, varied within and among islands and were comparable with rates measured from the Pacific and Caribbean using chemistry-based approaches. Benthic species assemblages on the CAUs were differentiated by the presence of calcifying and fleshy taxa (CAP analysis, mean allocation success 80%, δ2 = 0.886, P = <0.001). In general, accretion rates were higher at sites that had a greater number of hours at high pH values each day. Where daily pH failed to exceed climatological seasonal minimum thresholds, net

  15. Reef habitats and associated sessile-benthic and fish assemblages across a euphotic-mesophotic depth gradient in Isla Desecheo, Puerto Rico

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Garcia-Sais, Jorge R.

    2010-06-01

    Quantitative surveys of sessile benthos and fish populations associated with reef habitats across a 15-50 m depth gradient were performed by direct diver observations using rebreathers at Isla Desecheo, Puerto Rico. Statistically significant differences between depths were found for total live coral, total coral species, total benthic algae, total sponges and abiotic cover. Live coral cover was higher at the mid-shelf (20 m) and shelf-edge (25 m) stations, whereas benthic algae and sponges were the dominant sessile-benthic assemblage at mesophotic stations below 25 m. Marked shifts in the community structure of corals and benthic algae were observed across the depth gradient. A total of 119 diurnal, non-cryptic fish species were observed across the depth gradient, including 80 species distributed among 7,841 individuals counted within belt-transects. Fish species richness was positively correlated with live coral cover. However, the relationship between total fish abundance and live coral was weak. Abundance of several numerically dominant fish species varied independently from live coral cover and appeared to be more influenced by depth and/or habitat type. Statistically significant differences in the rank order of abundance of fish species at euphotic vs mesophotic stations were detected. A small assemblage of reef fishes that included the cherubfish, Centropyge argi, sunshine chromis, Chromis insolata, greenblotch parrotfish, Sparisoma atomarium, yellowcheek wrasse, Halichoeres cyanocephalus, sargassum triggerfish, Xanthichthys ringens, and the longsnout butterflyfish, Chaetodon aculeatus was most abundant or only present from stations deeper than 30 m, and thus appear to be indicator species of mesophotic habitats.

  16. Ecological effects of ocean acidification and habitat complexity on reef-associated macroinvertebrate communities.

    PubMed

    Fabricius, K E; De'ath, G; Noonan, S; Uthicke, S

    2014-01-22

    The ecological effects of ocean acidification (OA) from rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) on benthic marine communities are largely unknown. We investigated in situ the consequences of long-term exposure to high CO2 on coral-reef-associated macroinvertebrate communities around three shallow volcanic CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea. The densities of many groups and the number of taxa (classes and phyla) of macroinvertebrates were significantly reduced at elevated CO2 (425-1100 µatm) compared with control sites. However, sensitivities of some groups, including decapod crustaceans, ascidians and several echinoderms, contrasted with predictions of their physiological CO2 tolerances derived from laboratory experiments. High CO2 reduced the availability of structurally complex corals that are essential refugia for many reef-associated macroinvertebrates. This loss of habitat complexity was also associated with losses in many macroinvertebrate groups, especially predation-prone mobile taxa, including crustaceans and crinoids. The transition from living to dead coral as substratum and habitat further altered macroinvertebrate communities, with far more taxa losing than gaining in numbers. Our study shows that indirect ecological effects of OA (reduced habitat complexity) will complement its direct physiological effects and together with the loss of coral cover through climate change will severely affect macroinvertebrate communities in coral reefs. PMID:24307670

  17. Ecological effects of ocean acidification and habitat complexity on reef-associated macroinvertebrate communities

    PubMed Central

    Fabricius, K. E.; De'ath, G.; Noonan, S.; Uthicke, S.

    2014-01-01

    The ecological effects of ocean acidification (OA) from rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) on benthic marine communities are largely unknown. We investigated in situ the consequences of long-term exposure to high CO2 on coral-reef-associated macroinvertebrate communities around three shallow volcanic CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea. The densities of many groups and the number of taxa (classes and phyla) of macroinvertebrates were significantly reduced at elevated CO2 (425–1100 µatm) compared with control sites. However, sensitivities of some groups, including decapod crustaceans, ascidians and several echinoderms, contrasted with predictions of their physiological CO2 tolerances derived from laboratory experiments. High CO2 reduced the availability of structurally complex corals that are essential refugia for many reef-associated macroinvertebrates. This loss of habitat complexity was also associated with losses in many macroinvertebrate groups, especially predation-prone mobile taxa, including crustaceans and crinoids. The transition from living to dead coral as substratum and habitat further altered macroinvertebrate communities, with far more taxa losing than gaining in numbers. Our study shows that indirect ecological effects of OA (reduced habitat complexity) will complement its direct physiological effects and together with the loss of coral cover through climate change will severely affect macroinvertebrate communities in coral reefs. PMID:24307670

  18. DETECTING BENTHIC COMMUNITY DIFFERENCES: INFLUENCE OF STATISTICAL INDEX AND SEASON

    EPA Science Inventory

    An accurate assessment of estuarine condition is critical to determining whether there has been a change from baseline or 'natural' conditions; benthic communities are routinely used as an ecological endpoint to make this assessment. We addressed two issues which arise when attem...

  19. Diverse communities of active Bacteria and Archaea along oxygen gradients in coral reef sediments

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rusch, A.; Hannides, A. K.; Gaidos, E.

    2009-03-01

    Microbial communities inhabiting highly permeable sediments of Checker Reef in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, were characterized in relation to porewater geochemistry (O2, NO3 -, NO2 -, NH4 +, phosphate). The physiologically active part of the population, assessed by sequencing cDNA libraries of 16S rRNA amplicons, was very diverse, with an estimated ribotype richness ≥1,380 in anoxic sediment. Quantitative analysis of community structure by rRNA-targeted fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) indicated that the archaeal population (9-18%) was dominated by marine Crenarchaeota (5-9%). Planctomycetales were the most abundant group in the oxic and interfacial habitat (17-19%) but were a minority (<5%) in anoxic reef sediment, where γ-Proteobacteria were numerically dominant (18%). Another 9-14% of the microbial benthos belonged to β-Proteobacteria, predominantly within the order Nitrosomonadales, many cultured representatives of which are NH4 + oxidizers. The results of this study contribute to the phylogenetic characterization of benthic microbial communities that are important in organic matter degradation and nutrient recycling in coral reef ecosystems.

  20. Can artificial reefs mimic natural reef communities? The roles of structural features and age.

    PubMed

    Perkol-Finkel, S; Shashar, N; Benayahu, Y

    2006-03-01

    In light of the deteriorating state of coral reefs worldwide, the need to rehabilitate marine environments has greatly increased. Artificial reefs (ARs) have been suggested as a tool for reef conservation and rehabilitation. Although successions of AR communities have been thoroughly studied, current understanding of the interactions between artificial and natural reefs (NRs) is poor and a fundamental question still to be answered is that of whether AR communities can mimic adjacent NR communities. We suggest three alternative hypotheses: Neighboring ARs and NRs will (1) achieve a similar community structure given sufficient time; (2) be similar only if they possess similar structural features; (3) always differ, regardless of age or structural features. We examined these hypotheses by comparing the community structure on a 119-year old shipwreck to a neighboring NR. Fouling organisms, including stony and soft corals, sponges, tunicates, sea anemones and hydrozoans were recorded and measured along belt transects. The ahermatypic stony coral Tubastrea micrantha dominated vertical AR regions while the soft corals Nephthea sp. and Xenia sp. dominated both artificial and natural horizontal surfaces. Our results support the second hypothesis, indicating that even after a century an AR will mimic its adjacent NR communities only if it possesses structural features similar to those of the natural surroundings. However, if the two differ structurally, their communities will remain distinct. PMID:16198411

  1. Oysters and Oyster Reef Communities in Florida.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Knight, Jean; Bly, Joe

    1989-01-01

    The habitat, life history, feeding, classification, anatomy and pearl production of the American oyster (Crassostrea virginica) are presented. A list of other oyster reef inhabitants and predators is provided. Harvest and habitat loss are discussed. (CW)

  2. Habitat degradation and fishing effects on the size structure of coral reef fish communities.

    PubMed

    Wilson, S K; Fisher, R; Pratchett, M S; Graham, N A J; Dulvy, N K; Turner, R A; Cakacaka, A; Polunin, N V C

    2010-03-01

    Overfishing and habitat degradation through climate change pose the greatest threats to sustainability of marine resources on coral reefs. We examined how changes in fishing pressure and benthic habitat composition influenced the size spectra of island-scale reef fish communities in Lau, Fiji. Between 2000 and 2006 fishing pressure declined in the Lau Islands due to declining human populations and reduced demand for fresh fish. At the same time, coral cover declined and fine-scale architectural complexity eroded due to coral bleaching and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci. We examined the size distribution of reef fish communities using size spectra analysis, the linearized relationship between abundance and body size class. Spatial variation in fishing pressure accounted for 31% of the variation in the slope of the size spectra in 2000, higher fishing pressure being associated with a steeper slope, which is indicative of fewer large-bodied fish and/or more small-bodied fish. Conversely, in 2006 spatial variation in habitat explained 53% of the variation in the size spectra slopes, and the relationship with fishing pressure was much weaker (approximately 12% of variation) than in 2000. Reduced cover of corals and lower structural complexity was associated with less steep size spectra slopes, primarily due to reduced abundance of fish < 20 cm. Habitat degradation will compound effects of fishing on coral reefs as increased fishing reduces large-bodied target species, while habitat loss results in fewer small-bodied juveniles and prey that replenish stocks and provide dietary resources for predatory target species. Effective management of reef resources therefore depends on both reducing fishing pressure and maintaining processes that encourage rapid recovery of coral habitat. PMID:20405798

  3. Spatial Analyses of Benthic Habitats to Define Coral Reef Ecosystem Regions and Potential Biogeographic Boundaries along a Latitudinal Gradient

    PubMed Central

    Walker, Brian K.

    2012-01-01

    Marine organism diversity typically attenuates latitudinally from tropical to colder climate regimes. Since the distribution of many marine species relates to certain habitats and depth regimes, mapping data provide valuable information in the absence of detailed ecological data that can be used to identify and spatially quantify smaller scale (10 s km) coral reef ecosystem regions and potential physical biogeographic barriers. This study focused on the southeast Florida coast due to a recognized, but understudied, tropical to subtropical biogeographic gradient. GIS spatial analyses were conducted on recent, accurate, shallow-water (0–30 m) benthic habitat maps to identify and quantify specific regions along the coast that were statistically distinct in the number and amount of major benthic habitat types. Habitat type and width were measured for 209 evenly-spaced cross-shelf transects. Evaluation of groupings from a cluster analysis at 75% similarity yielded five distinct regions. The number of benthic habitats and their area, width, distance from shore, distance from each other, and LIDAR depths were calculated in GIS and examined to determine regional statistical differences. The number of benthic habitats decreased with increasing latitude from 9 in the south to 4 in the north and many of the habitat metrics statistically differed between regions. Three potential biogeographic barriers were found at the Boca, Hillsboro, and Biscayne boundaries, where specific shallow-water habitats were absent further north; Middle Reef, Inner Reef, and oceanic seagrass beds respectively. The Bahamas Fault Zone boundary was also noted where changes in coastal morphologies occurred that could relate to subtle ecological changes. The analyses defined regions on a smaller scale more appropriate to regional management decisions, hence strengthening marine conservation planning with an objective, scientific foundation for decision making. They provide a framework for similar

  4. Extant benthic foraminiferal assemblages used in palaeocological interpretations on a high-latitude coral reef, South Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hayman, Stephanie; Mackay, Fiona; Schleyer, Michael

    2015-04-01

    South Africa's coral reefs are located at high latitude, but have high biodiversity and recreational value. Also being marginal, potentially they provide insight into future scenarios of global change for other sub-tropical and/or tropical reefs stimulated by human and climate change pressures. Sodwana Bay has a complex of reefs which are situated on a strongly wind-driven, high energy coastline also influenced significantly by the strong western boundary Agulhas Current. Our aim was to assess the impact of recent changes potentially due to climate change, on these reefs using foraminifera as a proxy for calcifying marine organisms. Limited foraminiferal research has been conducted in this region with none having a palaeoclimate focus. The palaeoclimate was analysed through the collection of three intact bioclastic sediment cores X, Y and Z, which were collected at a depth of 16m. Stable isotope data (δ18O and δ13C) together with down-core foraminiferal assemblage changes allowed for palaeocological interpretations. Sediment cores were collected adjacent to the most accessible part of the reef complex at Two-mile Reef, Sodwana Bay, with the concurrent collection of extant Large Benthic Foraminifera (LBF) using a spatial crossed design of different substrata and habitats. Symbiont bearing LBF showed distinct zonation across the reef and reef associated habitats, with discrete assemblages found in sediment habitats and coral rubble. Distributions of these organisms were influenced by sediment grain size characteristics (% fine sand, % medium sand and % gravel) as well as water chemistry parameters (pH, salinity, temperature and total alkalinity). The living LBF were found predominately on reef rubble. The marginal nature of these reefs was also corroborated through carbonate analysis of water parameters (winter mean ΩAr: 3.00 ±0.37SD; summer mean ΩAr: 3.54 ±0.36SD). Radiocarbon dating from core X provided a calendar age of AD 680-920 (BP 1270 - 1030

  5. Recruitment Variability of Coral Reef Sessile Communities of the Far North Great Barrier Reef.

    PubMed

    Luter, Heidi M; Duckworth, Alan R; Wolff, Carsten W; Evans-Illidge, Elizabeth; Whalan, Steve

    2016-01-01

    One of the key components in assessing marine sessile organism demography is determining recruitment patterns to benthic habitats. An analysis of serially deployed recruitment tiles across depth (6 and 12 m), seasons (summer and winter) and space (meters to kilometres) was used to quantify recruitment assemblage structure (abundance and percent cover) of corals, sponges, ascidians, algae and other sessile organisms from the northern sector of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Polychaetes were most abundant on recruitment titles, reaching almost 50% of total recruitment, yet covered <5% of each tile. In contrast, mean abundances of sponges, ascidians, algae, and bryozoans combined was generally less than 20% of total recruitment, with percentage cover ranging between 15-30% per tile. Coral recruitment was very low, with <1 recruit per tile identified. A hierarchal analysis of variation over a range of spatial and temporal scales showed significant spatio-temporal variation in recruitment patterns, but the highest variability occurred at the lowest spatial scale examined (1 m-among tiles). Temporal variability in recruitment of both numbers of taxa and percentage cover was also evident across both summer and winter. Recruitment across depth varied for some taxonomic groups like algae, sponges and ascidians, with greatest differences in summer. This study presents some of the first data on benthic recruitment within the northern GBR and provides a greater understanding of population ecology for coral reefs. PMID:27049650

  6. Recruitment Variability of Coral Reef Sessile Communities of the Far North Great Barrier Reef

    PubMed Central

    Luter, Heidi M.; Duckworth, Alan R.; Wolff, Carsten W.; Evans-Illidge, Elizabeth; Whalan, Steve

    2016-01-01

    One of the key components in assessing marine sessile organism demography is determining recruitment patterns to benthic habitats. An analysis of serially deployed recruitment tiles across depth (6 and 12 m), seasons (summer and winter) and space (meters to kilometres) was used to quantify recruitment assemblage structure (abundance and percent cover) of corals, sponges, ascidians, algae and other sessile organisms from the northern sector of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Polychaetes were most abundant on recruitment titles, reaching almost 50% of total recruitment, yet covered <5% of each tile. In contrast, mean abundances of sponges, ascidians, algae, and bryozoans combined was generally less than 20% of total recruitment, with percentage cover ranging between 15–30% per tile. Coral recruitment was very low, with <1 recruit per tile identified. A hierarchal analysis of variation over a range of spatial and temporal scales showed significant spatio-temporal variation in recruitment patterns, but the highest variability occurred at the lowest spatial scale examined (1 m—among tiles). Temporal variability in recruitment of both numbers of taxa and percentage cover was also evident across both summer and winter. Recruitment across depth varied for some taxonomic groups like algae, sponges and ascidians, with greatest differences in summer. This study presents some of the first data on benthic recruitment within the northern GBR and provides a greater understanding of population ecology for coral reefs. PMID:27049650

  7. Macroalgae Decrease Growth and Alter Microbial Community Structure of the Reef-Building Coral, Porites astreoides

    PubMed Central

    Vega Thurber, Rebecca; Burkepile, Deron E.; Correa, Adrienne M. S.; Thurber, Andrew R.; Shantz, Andrew A.; Welsh, Rory; Pritchard, Catharine; Rosales, Stephanie

    2012-01-01

    With the continued and unprecedented decline of coral reefs worldwide, evaluating the factors that contribute to coral demise is of critical importance. As coral cover declines, macroalgae are becoming more common on tropical reefs. Interactions between these macroalgae and corals may alter the coral microbiome, which is thought to play an important role in colony health and survival. Together, such changes in benthic macroalgae and in the coral microbiome may result in a feedback mechanism that contributes to additional coral cover loss. To determine if macroalgae alter the coral microbiome, we conducted a field-based experiment in which the coral Porites astreoides was placed in competition with five species of macroalgae. Macroalgal contact increased variance in the coral-associated microbial community, and two algal species significantly altered microbial community composition. All macroalgae caused the disappearance of a γ-proteobacterium previously hypothesized to be an important mutualist of P. astreoides. Macroalgal contact also triggered: 1) increases or 2) decreases in microbial taxa already present in corals, 3) establishment of new taxa to the coral microbiome, and 4) vectoring and growth of microbial taxa from the macroalgae to the coral. Furthermore, macroalgal competition decreased coral growth rates by an average of 36.8%. Overall, this study found that competition between corals and certain species of macroalgae leads to an altered coral microbiome, providing a potential mechanism by which macroalgae-coral interactions reduce coral health and lead to coral loss on impacted reefs. PMID:22957055

  8. Recruitment and Succession in a Tropical Benthic Community in Response to In-Situ Ocean Acidification

    PubMed Central

    Crook, Elizabeth Derse; Kroeker, Kristy J.; Potts, Donald C.; Rebolledo-Vieyra, Mario; Hernandez-Terrones, Laura M.; Paytan, Adina

    2016-01-01

    Ocean acidification is a pervasive threat to coral reef ecosystems, and our understanding of the ecological processes driving patterns in tropical benthic community development in conditions of acidification is limited. We deployed limestone recruitment tiles in low aragonite saturation (Ωarag) waters during an in-situ field experiment at Puerto Morelos, Mexico, and compared them to tiles placed in control zones over a 14-month investigation. The early stages of succession showed relatively little difference in coverage of calcifying organisms between the low Ωarag and control zones. However, after 14 months of development, tiles from the low Ωarag zones had up to 70% less cover of calcifying organisms coincident with 42% more fleshy algae than the controls. The percent cover of biofilm and turf algae was also significantly greater in the low Ωarag zones, while the number of key grazing taxa remained constant. We hypothesize that fleshy algae have a competitive edge over the primary calcified space holders, coralline algae, and that acidification leads to altered competitive dynamics between various taxa. We suggest that as acidification impacts reefs in the future, there will be a shift in community assemblages away from upright and crustose coralline algae toward more fleshy algae and turf, established in the early stages of succession. PMID:26784986

  9. Recruitment and Succession in a Tropical Benthic Community in Response to In-Situ Ocean Acidification.

    PubMed

    Crook, Elizabeth Derse; Kroeker, Kristy J; Potts, Donald C; Rebolledo-Vieyra, Mario; Hernandez-Terrones, Laura M; Paytan, Adina

    2016-01-01

    Ocean acidification is a pervasive threat to coral reef ecosystems, and our understanding of the ecological processes driving patterns in tropical benthic community development in conditions of acidification is limited. We deployed limestone recruitment tiles in low aragonite saturation (Ωarag) waters during an in-situ field experiment at Puerto Morelos, Mexico, and compared them to tiles placed in control zones over a 14-month investigation. The early stages of succession showed relatively little difference in coverage of calcifying organisms between the low Ωarag and control zones. However, after 14 months of development, tiles from the low Ωarag zones had up to 70% less cover of calcifying organisms coincident with 42% more fleshy algae than the controls. The percent cover of biofilm and turf algae was also significantly greater in the low Ωarag zones, while the number of key grazing taxa remained constant. We hypothesize that fleshy algae have a competitive edge over the primary calcified space holders, coralline algae, and that acidification leads to altered competitive dynamics between various taxa. We suggest that as acidification impacts reefs in the future, there will be a shift in community assemblages away from upright and crustose coralline algae toward more fleshy algae and turf, established in the early stages of succession. PMID:26784986

  10. Effects of thermal effluents on communities of benthic marine macroalgae

    SciTech Connect

    Devinny; J.S.

    1980-11-01

    Surveys of marine benthic macro-algae were made at two study areas receiving thermal effluents from power plants. A third, at an area where a natural thermal gradient exists, was investigated for comparison. Ordination analysis of the algal communities indicated changes in species composition of about 10% for each degree of temperature change up to 3/sup 0/C. Temperatures 7/sup 0/C above ambient altered the algal community by eliminating the large phaeophytes. Temperatures 10/sup 0/C above ambient left only a species-poor community of ephemeral populations.

  11. Benthic Reef Primary Production in Response to Large Amplitude Internal Waves at the Similan Islands (Andaman Sea, Thailand)

    PubMed Central

    Jantzen, Carin; Schmidt, Gertraud M.; Wild, Christian; Roder, Cornelia; Khokiattiwong, Somkiat; Richter, Claudio

    2013-01-01

    Coral reefs are facing rapidly changing environments, but implications for reef ecosystem functioning and important services, such as productivity, are difficult to predict. Comparative investigations on coral reefs that are naturally exposed to differing environmental settings can provide essential information in this context. One prevalent phenomenon regularly introducing alterations in water chemistry into coral reefs are internal waves. This study therefore investigates the effect of large amplitude internal waves (LAIW) on primary productivity in coral reefs at the Similan Islands (Andaman Sea, Thailand). The LAIW-exposed west sides of the islands are subjected to sudden drops in water temperature accompanied by enhanced inorganic nutrient concentrations compared to the sheltered east. At the central island, Ko Miang, east and west reefs are only few hundred meters apart, but feature pronounced differences. On the west lower live coral cover (-38 %) coincides with higher turf algae cover (+64 %) and growth (+54 %) compared to the east side. Turf algae and the reef sand-associated microphytobenthos displayed similar chlorophyll a contents on both island sides, but under LAIW exposure, turf algae exhibited higher net photosynthesis (+23 %), whereas the microphytobenthos displayed reduced net and gross photosynthesis (-19 % and -26 %, respectively) accompanied by lower respiration (-42 %). In contrast, the predominant coral Porites lutea showed higher chlorophyll a tissues contents (+42 %) on the LAIW-exposed west in response to lower light availability and higher inorganic nutrient concentrations, but net photosynthesis was comparable for both sides. Turf algae were the major primary producers on the west side, whereas microphytobenthos dominated on the east. The overall primary production rate (comprising all main benthic primary producers) was similar on both island sides, which indicates high primary production variability under different environmental

  12. Reservoir vital signs monitoring, 1991: Benthic macroinvertebrate community results

    SciTech Connect

    Masters, A.E.

    1992-08-01

    As part of an extensive Reservoir Monitoring program to examine the ecological health of reservoirs in the TVA system, benthic communities were sampled and evaluated at 41 locations on 14 TVA reservoirs. Up to ten dredge samples were collected at locations from the forebay, inflow and transition zones. Surveys were conducted between mid-March and mid-April, 1991. The results of these surveys are presented and discussed in this report.

  13. Enhancing the detection and classification of coral reef and associated benthic habitats: A hyperspectral remote sensing approach

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mishra, Deepak R.; Narumalani, Sunil; Rundquist, Donald; Lawson, Merlin; Perk, R.

    2007-08-01

    Coral reefs and associated benthic habitats are heterogeneous in nature. A remote sensor designed to discriminate these environments requires a high number of narrow, properly placed bands which are not currently available in existing satellite sensors. Optical hyperspectral sensors mounted on aerial platforms seem to be appropriate for overcoming the lack of both high spectral and spatial resolution of satellite sensors. This research presents results of an innovative coral reef application by such a sensor. Using hyperspectral Airborne Imaging Spectroradiometer for Applications (AISA) Eagle data, the approach presented solves the confounding influence of water column attenuation on substrate reflectance on a per-pixel basis. The hyperspectral imagery was used in band ratio algorithms to derive water depth and water column optical properties (e.g., absorption and backscattering coefficients). The water column correction technique produced a bottom albedo image which revealed that the dark regions comprised of sea grasses and benthic algae had albedo values ≈15%, whereas sand- and coral-dominated areas had albedos >30% and ≈15-35%, respectively. The retrieved bottom albedo image was then used to classify the benthos, generating a detailed map of benthic habitats, followed by accuracy assessment.

  14. Marine protected areas increase resilience among coral reef communities.

    PubMed

    Mellin, Camille; Aaron MacNeil, M; Cheal, Alistair J; Emslie, Michael J; Julian Caley, M

    2016-06-01

    With marine biodiversity declining globally at accelerating rates, maximising the effectiveness of conservation has become a key goal for local, national and international regulators. Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been widely advocated for conserving and managing marine biodiversity yet, despite extensive research, their benefits for conserving non-target species and wider ecosystem functions remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that MPAs can increase the resilience of coral reef communities to natural disturbances, including coral bleaching, coral diseases, Acanthaster planci outbreaks and storms. Using a 20-year time series from Australia's Great Barrier Reef, we show that within MPAs, (1) reef community composition was 21-38% more stable; (2) the magnitude of disturbance impacts was 30% lower and (3) subsequent recovery was 20% faster that in adjacent unprotected habitats. Our results demonstrate that MPAs can increase the resilience of marine communities to natural disturbance possibly through herbivory, trophic cascades and portfolio effects. PMID:27038889

  15. Multiple anthropogenic stressors exert complex, interactive effects on a coral reef community

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Muthukrishnan, Ranjan; Fong, Peggy

    2014-12-01

    Multiple natural and anthropogenic stressors impact coral reefs across the globe leading to declines of coral populations, but the relative importance of different stressors and the ways they interact remain poorly understood. Because coral reefs exist in environments commonly impacted by multiple stressors simultaneously, understanding their interactions is of particular importance. To evaluate the role of multiple stressors we experimentally manipulated three stressors (herbivore abundance, nutrient supply, and sediment loading) in plots on a natural reef in the Gulf of Panamá in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Monitoring of the benthic community (coral, macroalgae, algal turf, and crustose coralline algae) showed complex responses with all three stressors impacting the community, but at different times, in different combinations, and with varying effects on different community members. Reduction of top-down control in combination with sediment addition had the strongest effect on the community, and led to approximately three times greater algal biomass. Coral cover was reduced in all experimental units with a negative effect of nutrients over time and a synergistic interaction between herbivore exclosures and sediment addition. In contrast, nutrient and sediment additions interacted antagonistically in their impacts on crustose coralline algae and turf algae so that in combination the treatments limited each other's effects. Interactions between stressors and temporal variability indicated that, while each stressor had the potential to impact community structure, their combinations and the broader environmental conditions under which they acted strongly influenced their specific effects. Thus, it is critical to evaluate the effects of stressors on community dynamics not only independently but also under different combinations or environmental conditions to understand how those effects will be played out in more realistic scenarios.

  16. Benthic foraminifera as bioindicator for cold-water coral reef ecosystems along the Irish margin

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Margreth, Stephan; Rüggeberg, Andres; Spezzaferri, Silvia

    2009-12-01

    Cold-water coral ecosystems building cold-water carbonate mounds occur worldwide and are especially developed along the European margin, from northern Norway to the Gulf of Cadiz. A remarkable mound province is documented southwest of Ireland along the Porcupine and Rockall Banks. In this area carbonate mounds are formed in water depths between 500 and 1200 m and are often densely settled by cold-water coral ecosystems offering many ecological niches for benthic foraminifera. We investigated total (unstained) benthic foraminiferal assemblages from surface sediments (0-1 cm, >63 μm size fraction) of this region with the aim to trace their distribution patterns and to test if they can be used as bioindicators for facies characterization in different parts of carbonate mound systems. Our quantitative data were further statistically treated with non-metric multidimensional scaling (nMDS) based on Bray-Curtis similarity matrix to highlight community patterns that were not readily apparent. Our results indicate that different benthic foraminiferal assemblages characterize different facies along cold-water carbonate mounds and are related to the environmental conditions and available substrates. The following facies can be described: (1) the Off-Mound Facies is dominated by uvigerinids and other infaunal species; (2) the Dropstone Facies is characterized by infaunal Globocassidulina subglobosa and attached-epifaunal Cibicidoides sp.; (3) the Dead Coral Facies is characterised by epifaunal species (e.g., Planulina ariminensis, Hanzawaia boueana) and infaunal species ( Spiroplectinella wrightii, Angulogerina angulosa, Epistominella vitrea); (4) the Living Coral Facies includes both infaunal and epifaunal species, but is dominated by the epifaunal Discanomalina coronata; and (5) the Sandwave Facies contains high abundances of epifaunal species including D. coronata. Based on this distribution, we propose D. coronata, as an indicator species to identify active mounds and

  17. The Biogeochemistry of Benthic Photosynthetic Communities

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Bebout, Brad; Fonda, Mark (Technical Monitor)

    2002-01-01

    Microbial mats are our earliest, and most pervasive evidence of life on Earth. In addition to their importance as the crucible of microbial evolution on Earth, microbial mats may be important in our search for life outside of our solar system. This lecture will introduce various types of microbial mats, and their fossilized counterparts, stromatolites by presenting examples of these communities. Biogeochemical cycles important in microbial mats will be introduced and discussed.

  18. The Biogeochemistry of Benthic Photosynthetic Communities

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Bebout, Brad

    2005-01-01

    This lecture presentation discusses microbial mats are our earliest, and most pervasive evidence of life on Earth. In addition to their importance as the crucible of microbial evolution on Earth, microbial mats may be important in our search for life outside of our solar system. This lecture will introduce various types of microbial mats, and their fossilized counterparts, stromatolites by presenting examples of these communities. Biogeochemical cycles important in microbial mats will be introduced and discussed.

  19. COMPARISON OF TWO INDICES OF BENTHIC COMMUNITY CONDITION IN CHESAPEAKE BAY

    EPA Science Inventory

    The Chesapeake Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity (B-IBI) and the EMAP-VP Benthic Index were applied to samples from 239 sites in Chesapeake Bay. The B-IBI weights several community measures equally and uses a simple scoring system while the EMAP-VP Benthic Index uses discriminant...

  20. An assessment of seabird influence on Arctic coastal benthic communities

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zmudczyńska-Skarbek, Katarzyna; Balazy, Piotr; Kuklinski, Piotr

    2015-04-01

    It is well recognized that seabirds, particularly those nesting in coastal colonies, can provide significant nutrient enrichment to Arctic terrestrial ecosystems. However, little is known about the fate of bird-derived nutrients that return to the marine environment and potentially concentrate below the colonies. To attempt to assess the influence of this potential nutrient enrichment of the coastal benthic community, samples of macroalgae, sea urchins (mainly algivores), and hermit crabs (scavengers) were collected at two Arctic localities (Spitsbergen), (1) below a mixed colony of guillemots and kittiwakes, and (2) in an adjacent geomorphologically similar location not influenced by the seabird colony. A much higher nitrogen stable isotope ratio (δ15N) and total nitrogen content were found in terrestrial plants sampled below the colony than away from it. In benthic macroalgae, however, there were no δ15N differences. This might result from the timing of an intensive growth period in macroalgae in late winter/early spring, when there is little or no runoff from the land, and/or ornithogenic nutrients being directly incorporated by phytoplankton. Sea urchins showed higher δ15N and total N in the control site comparing to the colony-influenced area, suggesting differential food sources in their diet and a role of scavenging/carnivory on higher trophic levels there. Opportunistically feeding hermit crabs showed δ15N and total N enrichment below the seabird colony, suggesting dependence on detritus derived from food chains originating from pelagic producers. Our results indicate that seabirds in the Arctic may fertilize coastal benthic communities through pelagic-benthic coupling, while having no direct impact on bottom primary production.

  1. Identifying cold-water coral ecosystem by using benthic foraminiferal indicators: from active reefs to the geological record

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Margreth, Stephan; Rüggeberg, Andres; Gennari, Giordana; Spezzaferri, Silvia

    2010-05-01

    Cold-water coral ecosystems dominated by the species Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata, as well as cold-water coral carbonate mounds (fossils and/or active) occur worldwide and are especially developed along the European margin, from northern Norway to the Gulf of Cadiz and into the Alboran Sea. Their discovery is a major achievement of the last few decades and their widespread occurrence presents a challenge to understand their development, preservation and possible importance in the geologic record. On the Norwegian shelf active/living reefs are developed on elevated hard substrata. Along the Irish margin L. pertusa builds large fossil and/or active carbonate mounds. In the Gulf of Cadiz and in the Alboran Sea buried reefs and patch reefs are generally found in association with mud volcanoes. In modern oceans, they provide important ecological niches for the marine benthic fauna in the deep-sea. In comparison to the macrofauna the microfauna, particularly the foraminifera associated to these systems, are poorly known. We present here a detailed study based on quantitative analyses of benthic and planktonic foraminifera together with the statistical treatment of assemblage data collected along the Norwegian margin, in the Porcupine-Rockall region and in the Alboran Sea. The three regions were and/or are site of cold-water coral ecosystems settlements. Our study reveals that in the Porcupine/Rockall region benthic foraminiferal assemblages are strictly related to the distribution of facies. On the Norwegian margin, benthic foraminiferal habitats are weakly defined and grade one into the other preventing the sharp facies separation observed along the Irish margin (Margreth et al., 2009). In the Alboran Sea cold-water coral ecosystems and cold-water carbonate mounds are presently buried and corals are generally fragmented. However, benthic assemblages from coral-rich layers in the Alboran Sea and those from Porcupine/Rockall and Norway show remarkable

  2. Shell productivity of the large benthic foraminifer Baculogypsina sphaerulata, based on the population dynamics in a tropical reef environment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fujita, Kazuhiko; Otomaru, Maki; Lopati, Paeniu; Hosono, Takashi; Kayanne, Hajime

    2016-03-01

    Carbonate production by large benthic foraminifers is sometimes comparable to that of corals and coralline algae, and contributes to sedimentation on reef islands and beaches in the tropical Pacific. Population dynamic data, such as population density and size structure (size-frequency distribution), are vital for an accurate estimation of shell production of foraminifers. However, previous production estimates in tropical environments were based on a limited sampling period with no consideration of seasonality. In addition, no comparisons were made of various estimation methods to determine more accurate estimates. Here we present the annual gross shell production rate of Baculogypsina sphaerulata, estimated based on population dynamics studied over a 2-yr period on an ocean reef flat of Funafuti Atoll (Tuvalu, tropical South Pacific). The population density of B. sphaerulata increased from January to March, when northwest winds predominated and the study site was on the leeward side of reef islands, compared to other seasons when southeast trade winds predominated and the study site was on the windward side. This result suggested that wind-driven flows controlled the population density at the study site. The B. sphaerulata population had a relatively stationary size-frequency distribution throughout the study period, indicating no definite intensive reproductive period in the tropical population. Four methods were applied to estimate the annual gross shell production rates of B. sphaerulata. The production rates estimated by three of the four methods (using monthly biomass, life tables and growth increment rates) were in the order of hundreds of g CaCO3 m-2 yr-1 or cm-3 m-2 yr-1, and the simple method using turnover rates overestimated the values. This study suggests that seasonal surveys should be undertaken of population density and size structure as these can produce more accurate estimates of shell productivity of large benthic foraminifers.

  3. Disturbance, colonization and development of Antarctic benthic communities

    PubMed Central

    Barnes, David K.A; Conlan, Kathleen E

    2006-01-01

    A decade has yielded much progress in understanding polar disturbance and community recovery—mainly through quantifying ice scour rates, other disturbance levels, larval abundance and diversity, colonization rates and response of benthos to predicted climate change. The continental shelf around Antarctica is clearly subject to massive disturbance, but remarkably across so many scales. In summer, millions of icebergs from sizes smaller than cars to larger than countries ground out and gouge the sea floor and crush the benthic communities there, while the highest wind speeds create the highest waves to pound the coast. In winter, the calm associated with the sea surface freezing creates the clearest marine water in the world. But in winter, an ice foot encases coastal life and anchor ice rips benthos from the sea floor. Over tens and hundreds of thousands of years, glaciations have done the same on continental scales—ice sheets have bulldozed the seabed and the zoobenthos to edge of shelves. We detail and rank modern disturbance levels (from most to least): ice; asteroid impacts; sediment instability; wind/wave action; pollution; UV irradiation; volcanism; trawling; non-indigenous species; freshwater inundation; and temperature stress. Benthic organisms have had to recolonize local scourings and continental shelves repeatedly, yet a decade of studies have demonstrated that they have (compared with lower latitudes) slow tempos of reproduction, colonization and growth. Despite massive disturbance levels and slow recolonization potential, the Antarctic shelf has a much richer fauna than would be expected for its area. Now, West Antarctica is among the fastest warming regions and its organisms face new rapid changes. In the next century, temperature stress and non-indigenous species will drastically rise to become dominant disturbances to the Antarctic life. Here, we describe the potential for benthic organisms to respond to disturbance, focusing particularly on what

  4. Disturbance, colonization and development of Antarctic benthic communities.

    PubMed

    Barnes, David K A; Conlan, Kathleen E

    2007-01-29

    A decade has yielded much progress in understanding polar disturbance and community recovery-mainly through quantifying ice scour rates, other disturbance levels, larval abundance and diversity, colonization rates and response of benthos to predicted climate change. The continental shelf around Antarctica is clearly subject to massive disturbance, but remarkably across so many scales. In summer, millions of icebergs from sizes smaller than cars to larger than countries ground out and gouge the sea floor and crush the benthic communities there, while the highest wind speeds create the highest waves to pound the coast. In winter, the calm associated with the sea surface freezing creates the clearest marine water in the world. But in winter, an ice foot encases coastal life and anchor ice rips benthos from the sea floor. Over tens and hundreds of thousands of years, glaciations have done the same on continental scales-ice sheets have bulldozed the seabed and the zoobenthos to edge of shelves. We detail and rank modern disturbance levels (from most to least): ice; asteroid impacts; sediment instability; wind/wave action; pollution; UV irradiation; volcanism; trawling; non-indigenous species; freshwater inundation; and temperature stress. Benthic organisms have had to recolonize local scourings and continental shelves repeatedly, yet a decade of studies have demonstrated that they have (compared with lower latitudes) slow tempos of reproduction, colonization and growth. Despite massive disturbance levels and slow recolonization potential, the Antarctic shelf has a much richer fauna than would be expected for its area. Now, West Antarctica is among the fastest warming regions and its organisms face new rapid changes. In the next century, temperature stress and non-indigenous species will drastically rise to become dominant disturbances to the Antarctic life. Here, we describe the potential for benthic organisms to respond to disturbance, focusing particularly on what we

  5. Communities of constructional lips and cup reef rims in Bermuda

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Thomas, Martin L. H.; Stevens, Jo-Anne

    1991-01-01

    Constructional lips and cup reef rims are little studied reef features typical of very turbulent conditions. The relatively low diversity community of these structures consists of three components, and algal mat dominated by Herposiphonia secunda, an encrusting calcareous biota characterised by crustose coralline algae and the vermetid gastropod Dendropoma corrodens, which together are the main hermatypic components, and an endolithic component with very abundant boring sponges, polychaetes, crustaceans and sipunculids. In northerly areas of Bermuda, the hydrozoan Millepora alcicornis is a prominent member of the community while to the south the urchin Echinometra lucunter is abundant. On the south side of Bermuda the community traps sediment which is deposited in the void spaces. The environment shows reduced grazing and this may account for the presence of several relict and rare species.

  6. Coral community response to bleaching on a highly disturbed reef

    PubMed Central

    Guest, J. R.; Low, J.; Tun, K.; Wilson, B.; Ng, C.; Raingeard, D.; Ulstrup, K. E.; Tanzil, J. T. I.; Todd, P. A.; Toh, T. C.; McDougald, D.; Chou, L. M.; Steinberg, P. D.

    2016-01-01

    While many studies of coral bleaching report on broad, regional scale responses, fewer examine variation in susceptibility among coral taxa and changes in community structure, before, during and after bleaching on individual reefs. Here we report in detail on the response to bleaching by a coral community on a highly disturbed reef site south of mainland Singapore before, during and after a major thermal anomaly in 2010. To estimate the capacity for resistance to thermal stress, we report on: a) overall bleaching severity during and after the event, b) differences in bleaching susceptibility among taxa during the event, and c) changes in coral community structure one year before and after bleaching. Approximately two thirds of colonies bleached, however, post-bleaching recovery was quite rapid and, importantly, coral taxa that are usually highly susceptible were relatively unaffected. Although total coral cover declined, there was no significant change in coral taxonomic community structure before and after bleaching. Several factors may have contributed to the overall high resistance of corals at this site including Symbiodinium affiliation, turbidity and heterotrophy. Our results suggest that, despite experiencing chronic anthropogenic disturbances, turbid shallow reef communities may be remarkably resilient to acute thermal stress. PMID:26876092

  7. Coral community response to bleaching on a highly disturbed reef.

    PubMed

    Guest, J R; Low, J; Tun, K; Wilson, B; Ng, C; Raingeard, D; Ulstrup, K E; Tanzil, J T I; Todd, P A; Toh, T C; McDougald, D; Chou, L M; Steinberg, P D

    2016-01-01

    While many studies of coral bleaching report on broad, regional scale responses, fewer examine variation in susceptibility among coral taxa and changes in community structure, before, during and after bleaching on individual reefs. Here we report in detail on the response to bleaching by a coral community on a highly disturbed reef site south of mainland Singapore before, during and after a major thermal anomaly in 2010. To estimate the capacity for resistance to thermal stress, we report on: a) overall bleaching severity during and after the event, b) differences in bleaching susceptibility among taxa during the event, and c) changes in coral community structure one year before and after bleaching. Approximately two thirds of colonies bleached, however, post-bleaching recovery was quite rapid and, importantly, coral taxa that are usually highly susceptible were relatively unaffected. Although total coral cover declined, there was no significant change in coral taxonomic community structure before and after bleaching. Several factors may have contributed to the overall high resistance of corals at this site including Symbiodinium affiliation, turbidity and heterotrophy. Our results suggest that, despite experiencing chronic anthropogenic disturbances, turbid shallow reef communities may be remarkably resilient to acute thermal stress. PMID:26876092

  8. Anthropogenic and natural disturbances to marine benthic communities in Antarctica

    SciTech Connect

    Lenihan, H.; Oliver, J.S.

    1995-05-01

    Sampling and field experiments were conducted from 1975 to 1990 to test how the structure of marine benthic communities around McMurdo Station, Antarctica varied with levels of anthropogenic contaminants in marine sediments. The structure of communities (e.g., infauna density, species composition, and life history characteristics) in contaminated and uncontaminated areas were compared with the structure of communities influenced by two large-scale natural disturbances, anchor ice formation and uplift or iceberg scour. Benthic communities changed radically along a steep spatial gradient of anthropogenic hydrocarbon, metal, and PCB contamination around McMurdo Station. The heavily contaminated end of the gradient, Winter Quarters Bay, was low in infaunal and epifaunal abundance and was dominated by a few opportunistic species of polychaete worms. The edge of the heavily contaminated bay, the transition area, contained several motile polychaete species with less opportunistic life histories. Uncontaminated sedimentary habitats harbored dense tube mats of infaunal animals numerically dominated by populations of polychaete worms, crustaceans, and a large suspension feeding bivalve. These species are generally large and relatively sessile, except for several crustacean species living among the tubes. Although the community patterns around anthropogenic and natural disturbances were similar, particularly motile and opportunistic species at heavily disturbed and marginal areas, the natural disturbances cover much greater areas of the sea floor about the entire Antarctic continent. On the other hand, recovery from chemical contamination is likely to take many more decades than recovery from natural disturbances as contaminant degradation is a slow process. 77 refs., 6 figs., 5 tabs.

  9. Benthic macrofauna productivity enhancement by an artificial reef in Delaware Bay, USA

    SciTech Connect

    Steimle, F; Foster, Karen L.; Kropp, Roy K.; Conlin, B

    2002-10-15

    To understand the potential enhancement value of a habitat-loss mitigation reef in Delaware Bay, especially as a source of food for fishery resources, the secondary productivity of the reef epifauna and nearby sand infauna was estimated and compared. The mean production of natural sand infauna was estimated at between 215 and 249 kcal m(2) yr(-1), while that of the epifauna on the reef surfaces was between 3990 and 9555 kcal m(2) yr(-1). With the 36 m(2) footprint of a reef unit as a basis for comparison, the 407 m(2) of reef unit surface covering that footprint produced 1.62-3.89 X 10(6) kcal yr(-1) of epifauna compared with 7.74-8.96 X 10(3) kcal yr(-1) per footprint area for the adjacent sand infauna. There was, however, substantial annual variability in the productivity of the epifauna, based on the recruitment success of Mytilus edulis.

  10. Oyster Reef Communities in the Chesapeake Bay. Virginia Institute of Marine Science Educational Series. [CD-ROM].

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Harding, Juliana M.; Mann, Roger; Clark, Vicki P.

    This CD-ROM, Oyster Reef Communities in the Chesapeake Bay, describes oyster reefs, reef communities, and their roles in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Detailed descriptions of scientific research methods and techniques used to monitor and describe oyster reef communities as well as applications of the resulting data are provided. The CD-ROM was…

  11. Linking Wave Forcing to Coral Cover and Structural Complexity Across Coral Reef Flats

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harris, D. L.; Rovere, A.; Parravicini, V.; Casella, E.

    2015-12-01

    The hydrodynamic regime is a significant component in the geomorphic and ecological development of coral reefs. The energy gradients and flow conditions generated by the breaking and transformation of waves across coral reef crests and flats drive changes in geomorphic structure, and coral growth form and distribution. One of the key aspects in regulating the wave energy propagating across reef flats is the rugosity or roughness of the benthic substrate. Rugosity and structural complexity of coral reefs is also a key indicator of species diversity, ecological functioning, and reef health. However, the links between reef rugosity, coral species distribution and abundance, and hydrodynamic forcing are poorly understood. In this study we examine this relationship by using high resolution measurement of waves in the surf zone and coral reef benthic structure.Pressure transducers (logging at 4 Hz) were deployed in cross reef transects at two sites (Tiahura and Ha'apiti reef systems) in Moorea, French Polynesia with wave characteristics determined on a wave by wave basis. A one dimensional hydrodynamic model (XBeach) was calibrated from this data to determine wave processes on the reef flats under average conditions. Transects of the reef benthic structure were conducted using photographic analysis and the three dimensional reef surface was constructed using structure from motion procedures. From this analysis reef rugosity, changes in coral genus and growth form, and across reef shifts in benthic community were determined. The results show clear changes in benthic assemblages along wave energy gradients with some indication of threshold values of wave induced bed shear stress above which live coral cover was reduced. Reef rugosity was shown to be significantly along the cross-reef transect which has important implications for accurate assessment of wave dissipation across coral reef flats. Links between reef rugosity and coral genus were also observed and may indicate

  12. Deep COI sequencing of standardized benthic samples unveils overlooked diversity of Jordanian coral reefs in the northern Red Sea.

    PubMed

    Al-Rshaidat, Mamoon M D; Snider, Allison; Rosebraugh, Sydney; Devine, Amanda M; Devine, Thomas D; Plaisance, Laetitia; Knowlton, Nancy; Leray, Matthieu

    2016-09-01

    High-throughput sequencing (HTS) of DNA barcodes (metabarcoding), particularly when combined with standardized sampling protocols, is one of the most promising approaches for censusing overlooked cryptic invertebrate communities. We present biodiversity estimates based on sequencing of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COI) gene for coral reefs of the Gulf of Aqaba, a semi-enclosed system in the northern Red Sea. Samples were obtained from standardized sampling devices (Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS)) deployed for 18 months. DNA barcoding of non-sessile specimens >2 mm revealed 83 OTUs in six phyla, of which only 25% matched a reference sequence in public databases. Metabarcoding of the 2 mm - 500 μm and sessile bulk fractions revealed 1197 OTUs in 15 animal phyla, of which only 4.9% matched reference barcodes. These results highlight the scarcity of COI data for cryptobenthic organisms of the Red Sea. Compared with data obtained using similar methods, our results suggest that Gulf of Aqaba reefs are less diverse than two Pacific coral reefs but much more diverse than an Atlantic oyster reef at a similar latitude. The standardized approaches used here show promise for establishing baseline data on biodiversity, monitoring the impacts of environmental change, and quantifying patterns of diversity at regional and global scales. PMID:27584940

  13. Coral community change on a turbid-zone reef complex: developing baseline records for the central Great Barrier Reef's nearshore coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Johnson, Jamie; Perry, Chris; Smithers, Scott; Morgan, Kyle; Johnson, Kenneth

    2016-04-01

    Understanding past coral community development and reef growth is crucial for placing contemporary ecological and environmental change within appropriate reef-building timescales. Coral reefs located within coastal inner-shelf zones are widely perceived to be most susceptible to declining water quality due to their proximity to modified river catchments. On the inner-shelf of Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR) the impacts and magnitude of declining water quality since European settlement (c. 1850 A.D.) still remain unclear. This relates to ongoing debates concerning the significance of increased sediment yields against the naturally high background sedimentary regimes and the paucity of long-term (>decadal) ecological datasets. To provide baseline records for interpreting coral community change within the turbid inner-shelf waters of the GBR, 21 cores were recovered from five nearshore reefs spanning an evolutionary spectrum of reef development. Discrete intervals pre- and post-dating European settlement, but deposited at equivalent water depths, were identified by radiocarbon dating, enabling the discrimination of extrinsic and intrinsic driven shifts within the coral palaeo-record. We report no discernible evidence of anthropogenically-driven disturbance on the coral community records at these sites. Instead, significant transitions in coral community assemblages relating to water depth and vertical reef accretion were observed. We suggest that these records may be used to contextualise observed contemporary ecological change within similar environments on the GBR.

  14. Interlinking backscatter, grain size and benthic community structure

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McGonigle, Chris; Collier, Jenny S.

    2014-06-01

    The relationship between acoustic backscatter, sediment grain size and benthic community structure is examined using three different quantitative methods, covering image- and angular response-based approaches. Multibeam time-series backscatter (300 kHz) data acquired in 2008 off the coast of East Anglia (UK) are compared with grain size properties, macrofaunal abundance and biomass from 130 Hamon and 16 Clamshell grab samples. Three predictive methods are used: 1) image-based (mean backscatter intensity); 2) angular response-based (predicted mean grain size), and 3) image-based (1st principal component and classification) from Quester Tangent Corporation Multiview software. Relationships between grain size and backscatter are explored using linear regression. Differences in grain size and benthic community structure between acoustically defined groups are examined using ANOVA and PERMANOVA+. Results for the Hamon grab stations indicate significant correlations between measured mean grain size and mean backscatter intensity, angular response predicted mean grain size, and 1st principal component of QTC analysis (all p < 0.001). Results for the Clamshell grab for two of the methods have stronger positive correlations; mean backscatter intensity (r2 = 0.619; p < 0.001) and angular response predicted mean grain size (r2 = 0.692; p < 0.001). ANOVA reveals significant differences in mean grain size (Hamon) within acoustic groups for all methods: mean backscatter (p < 0.001), angular response predicted grain size (p < 0.001), and QTC class (p = 0.009). Mean grain size (Clamshell) shows a significant difference between groups for mean backscatter (p = 0.001); other methods were not significant. PERMANOVA for the Hamon abundance shows benthic community structure was significantly different between acoustic groups for all methods (p ≤ 0.001). Overall these results show considerable promise in that more than 60% of the variance in the mean grain size of the Clamshell grab

  15. Influence of coral and algal exudates on microbially mediated reef metabolism

    PubMed Central

    Nelson, Craig E.; Rohwer, Forest; Wegley-Kelly, Linda; Quistad, Steven D.; Carlson, Craig A.; Leichter, James J.; Hatay, Mark; Smith, Jennifer E.

    2013-01-01

    Benthic primary producers in tropical reef ecosystems can alter biogeochemical cycling and microbial processes in the surrounding seawater. In order to quantify these influences, we measured rates of photosynthesis, respiration, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) exudate release by the dominant benthic primary producers (calcifying and non-calcifying macroalgae, turf-algae and corals) on reefs of Mo‘orea French Polynesia. Subsequently, we examined planktonic and benthic microbial community response to these dissolved exudates by measuring bacterial growth rates and oxygen and DOC fluxes in dark and daylight incubation experiments. All benthic primary producers exuded significant quantities of DOC (roughly 10% of their daily fixed carbon) into the surrounding water over a diurnal cycle. The microbial community responses were dependent upon the source of the exudates and whether the inoculum of microbes included planktonic or planktonic plus benthic communities. The planktonic and benthic microbial communities in the unamended control treatments exhibited opposing influences on DO concentration where respiration dominated in treatments comprised solely of plankton and autotrophy dominated in treatments with benthic plus plankon microbial communities. Coral exudates (and associated inorganic nutrients) caused a shift towards a net autotrophic microbial metabolism by increasing the net production of oxygen by the benthic and decreasing the net consumption of oxygen by the planktonic microbial community. In contrast, the addition of algal exudates decreased the net primary production by the benthic communities and increased the net consumption of oxygen by the planktonic microbial community thereby resulting in a shift towards net heterotrophic community metabolism. When scaled up to the reef habitat, exudate-induced effects on microbial respiration did not outweigh the high oxygen production rates of benthic algae, such that reef areas dominated with benthic primary

  16. Influence of coral and algal exudates on microbially mediated reef metabolism.

    PubMed

    Haas, Andreas F; Nelson, Craig E; Rohwer, Forest; Wegley-Kelly, Linda; Quistad, Steven D; Carlson, Craig A; Leichter, James J; Hatay, Mark; Smith, Jennifer E

    2013-01-01

    Benthic primary producers in tropical reef ecosystems can alter biogeochemical cycling and microbial processes in the surrounding seawater. In order to quantify these influences, we measured rates of photosynthesis, respiration, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) exudate release by the dominant benthic primary producers (calcifying and non-calcifying macroalgae, turf-algae and corals) on reefs of Mo'orea French Polynesia. Subsequently, we examined planktonic and benthic microbial community response to these dissolved exudates by measuring bacterial growth rates and oxygen and DOC fluxes in dark and daylight incubation experiments. All benthic primary producers exuded significant quantities of DOC (roughly 10% of their daily fixed carbon) into the surrounding water over a diurnal cycle. The microbial community responses were dependent upon the source of the exudates and whether the inoculum of microbes included planktonic or planktonic plus benthic communities. The planktonic and benthic microbial communities in the unamended control treatments exhibited opposing influences on DO concentration where respiration dominated in treatments comprised solely of plankton and autotrophy dominated in treatments with benthic plus plankon microbial communities. Coral exudates (and associated inorganic nutrients) caused a shift towards a net autotrophic microbial metabolism by increasing the net production of oxygen by the benthic and decreasing the net consumption of oxygen by the planktonic microbial community. In contrast, the addition of algal exudates decreased the net primary production by the benthic communities and increased the net consumption of oxygen by the planktonic microbial community thereby resulting in a shift towards net heterotrophic community metabolism. When scaled up to the reef habitat, exudate-induced effects on microbial respiration did not outweigh the high oxygen production rates of benthic algae, such that reef areas dominated with benthic primary

  17. Reef Fish Community Biomass and Trophic Structure Changes across Shallow to Upper-Mesophotic Reefs in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Caribbean

    PubMed Central

    Gress, Erika; Wright, Georgina; Exton, Dan A.; Rogers, Alex D.

    2016-01-01

    Mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs; reefs 30-150m depth) are of increased research interest because of their potential role as depth refuges from many shallow reef threats. Yet few studies have identified patterns in fish species composition and trophic group structure between MCEs and their shallow counterparts. Here we explore reef fish species and biomass distributions across shallow to upper-MCE Caribbean reef gradients (5-40m) around Utila, Honduras, using a diver-operated stereo-video system. Broadly, we found reef fish species richness, abundance and biomass declining with depth. At the trophic group level we identified declines in herbivores (both total and relative community biomass) with depth, mostly driven by declines in parrotfish (Scaridae). Piscivores increased as a proportion of the community with increased depth while, in contrast to previous studies, we found no change in relative planktivorous reef fish biomass across the depth gradient. In addition, we also found evidence of ontogenetic migrations in the blue tang (Acanthurus coeruleus), striped parrotfish (Scarus iserti), blue chromis (Chromis cyanea), creole wrasse (Clepticus parrae), bluehead wrasse (Thalassoma bifasciatum) and yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus), with a higher proportion of larger individuals at mesophotic and near-mesophotic depths than on shallow reefs. Our results highlight the importance of using biomass measures when considering fish community changes across depth gradients, with biomass generating different results to simple abundance counts. PMID:27332811

  18. Reef Fish Community Biomass and Trophic Structure Changes across Shallow to Upper-Mesophotic Reefs in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Caribbean.

    PubMed

    Andradi-Brown, Dominic A; Gress, Erika; Wright, Georgina; Exton, Dan A; Rogers, Alex D

    2016-01-01

    Mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs; reefs 30-150m depth) are of increased research interest because of their potential role as depth refuges from many shallow reef threats. Yet few studies have identified patterns in fish species composition and trophic group structure between MCEs and their shallow counterparts. Here we explore reef fish species and biomass distributions across shallow to upper-MCE Caribbean reef gradients (5-40m) around Utila, Honduras, using a diver-operated stereo-video system. Broadly, we found reef fish species richness, abundance and biomass declining with depth. At the trophic group level we identified declines in herbivores (both total and relative community biomass) with depth, mostly driven by declines in parrotfish (Scaridae). Piscivores increased as a proportion of the community with increased depth while, in contrast to previous studies, we found no change in relative planktivorous reef fish biomass across the depth gradient. In addition, we also found evidence of ontogenetic migrations in the blue tang (Acanthurus coeruleus), striped parrotfish (Scarus iserti), blue chromis (Chromis cyanea), creole wrasse (Clepticus parrae), bluehead wrasse (Thalassoma bifasciatum) and yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus), with a higher proportion of larger individuals at mesophotic and near-mesophotic depths than on shallow reefs. Our results highlight the importance of using biomass measures when considering fish community changes across depth gradients, with biomass generating different results to simple abundance counts. PMID:27332811

  19. Maximum ecological potential of tropical reservoirs and benthic invertebrate communities.

    PubMed

    Molozzi, Joseline; Feio, Maria João; Salas, Fuensanta; Marques, João Carlos; Callisto, Marcos

    2013-08-01

    The Reference Condition Approach (RCA) is now widely adopted as a basis for the evaluation of the ecological quality of water bodies. In accordance with the RCA, the integrity of communities found in a given location should be analyzed according to their deviation from the communities that would be expected in the absence of anthropogenic disturbances. The RCA was used here with the aim of defining the Maximum Ecological Potential (MEP) of tropical reservoirs located in the hydrographical basin of the Paraopeba River in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Among the reservoirs, Serra Azul is used as a water supply and is located in a core area of environmental protection where tourism is not allowed and the native vegetation is conserved. The benthic macroinvertebrate communities at 90 sites located in three reservoirs were analyzed and sampled every 3 months over 2 years. The temporal patterns of the communities in the three reservoirs were analyzed (2nd-STAGE MDS and ANOSIM) and were not significantly related to seasonal fluctuations in temperature and precipitation. Twenty-eight sites belonging to the Serra Azul reservoir were selected to define the MEP of these reservoirs because these sites had the lowest human disturbance levels. The macroinvertebrate taxa present in the selected MEP sites are similar to those of natural lakes and different from the communities of disturbed sites. The biological classification of these sites revealed two groups with distinct macroinvertebrate communities. This distinction was related to climatic variables, bottom substrate type, the presence of gravel/boulders, coarse sand, silt, clay or muck, depth, and the shoreline substrate zone. These two subsets of biological communities and respective environmental conditions can serve as a basis for the future implementation of ecological quality monitoring programs for tropical reservoirs in the study area. This approach can also, however, be implemented in other geographic areas

  20. Disturbance frequency influences patch dynamics in stream benthic algal communities.

    PubMed

    Ledger, Mark E; Harris, Rebecca M L; Armitage, Patrick D; Milner, Alexander M

    2008-04-01

    Disturbance is integral to the organisation of riverine ecosystems. Fluctuating low flows caused by supra-seasonal drought and water management periodically dewater habitat patches, potentially creating heterogeneity in the taxonomic composition and successional dynamics of benthic communities. The frequency of disturbance induced by low flows is contingent upon the topography of the river bed and thus varies among patches. We investigated whether the frequency of patch dewatering influenced the structure and temporal dynamics of benthic algal communities attached to the upper surfaces of stones in stream mesocosms (4 m2). In a 693-day disturbance experiment, we applied short dewatering disturbances (6 days) at high (33-day cycles) and low frequencies (99-day cycles) and compared algal assemblages with undisturbed controls at 21 endpoints. In the absence of disturbance, epilithic space was dominated by the green encrusting alga Gongrosira incrustans. However, drying disturbances consistently reduced the dominance of the green alga, and crust abundance decreased with increasing disturbance frequency, thereby opening space for a diversity of mat-forming diatoms. The response of mat diatoms to disturbance varied markedly during the experiment, from strong reductions in the abundance of loosely attached mats in mid-late 2000 to the exploitation of open space by closely adhering mats in 2001. Contrary responses were attributed to changes in the species composition of mat diatoms, which influenced the physiognomy and hence stress-resistance and resilience of the assemblage. Our results indicate that patchy dewatering of habitat patches during periods of low flow influences the successional dynamics of algae, thereby creating distinctive mosaics on the stream bed. PMID:18193289

  1. The role of abiotic factors in the Cambrian Substrate Revolution: A review from the benthic community replacements of West Gondwana

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Álvaro, J. Javier; Zamora, Samuel; Clausen, Sébastien; Vizcaïno, Daniel; Smith, Andrew B.

    2013-03-01

    The Cambrian Substrate Revolution refers to a substantial and "rapid" change to the nature of marine sedimentary substrates in the early Cambrian and is widely interpreted as a biologically-driven event, a direct response to evolutionary innovations in metazoan burrowing and the development of new shelly faunas. However, abiotic factors such as tectonic and climatic evolution also had the potential to restructure Cambrian substrates, and are here shown to be more plausible drivers of change in the benthic faunas of western Gondwana. The western Mediterranean region underwent a southward drift during Cambrian times, which drove a switch from subtropical carbonates to temperate siliciclastic substrates with short-term episodes of temperate carbonate productivity. As a result, microbial and shelly carbonates disappeared diachronously in a stepwise manner across the lower-middle Cambrian boundary interval. Archaeocyathan-microbial reefs were replaced by chancelloriid-eocrinoid-(spiculate) sponge meadows, in which the stepwise immigration of new echinoderm taxa was primarily controlled by extensional tectonic events, first recorded in rifting settings and later in passive-margin platforms. Availability of new kinds of substrate was thus the primary factor that controlled where and when evolutionary innovations in benthic strategies arose. Examples of this include the early Cambrian colonization of phosphatic hardgrounds and thrombolite crusts by chancelloriids, archaeocyathan and spiculate sponges, and the exploitation by benthos to the increasingly widespread availability of shelly grounds and carbonate firmgrounds by early-diagenetic cementation. A microbial mat/epifaunal antagonistic relationship is demonstrated for echinoderm pelmatozoans based on the non-overlapping palaeogeographic distributions of microbial reefs and mats versus mud-sticker pelmatozoans. Cambrian benthic communities thus evolved in parallel with substrates in response to abiotic factors rather

  2. Black reefs: iron-induced phase shifts on coral reefs.

    PubMed

    Kelly, Linda Wegley; Barott, Katie L; Dinsdale, Elizabeth; Friedlander, Alan M; Nosrat, Bahador; Obura, David; Sala, Enric; Sandin, Stuart A; Smith, Jennifer E; Vermeij, Mark J A; Williams, Gareth J; Willner, Dana; Rohwer, Forest

    2012-03-01

    The Line Islands are calcium carbonate coral reef platforms located in iron-poor regions of the central Pacific. Natural terrestrial run-off of iron is non-existent and aerial deposition is extremely low. However, a number of ship groundings have occurred on these atolls. The reefs surrounding the shipwreck debris are characterized by high benthic cover of turf algae, macroalgae, cyanobacterial mats and corallimorphs, as well as particulate-laden, cloudy water. These sites also have very low coral and crustose coralline algal cover and are call black reefs because of the dark-colored benthic community and reduced clarity of the overlying water column. Here we use a combination of benthic surveys, chemistry, metagenomics and microcosms to investigate if and how shipwrecks initiate and maintain black reefs. Comparative surveys show that the live coral cover was reduced from 40 to 60% to <10% on black reefs on Millennium, Tabuaeran and Kingman. These three sites are relatively large (>0.75 km(2)). The phase shift occurs rapidly; the Kingman black reef formed within 3 years of the ship grounding. Iron concentrations in algae tissue from the Millennium black reef site were six times higher than in algae collected from reference sites. Metagenomic sequencing of the Millennium Atoll black reef-associated microbial community was enriched in iron-associated virulence genes and known pathogens. Microcosm experiments showed that corals were killed by black reef rubble through microbial activity. Together these results demonstrate that shipwrecks and their associated iron pose significant threats to coral reefs in iron-limited regions. PMID:21881615

  3. Effects of an artificial oyster shell reef on macrobenthic communities in Rongcheng Bay, East China

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Xu, Qinzeng; Zhang, Libin; Zhang, Tao; Zhou, Yi; Xia, Sudong; Liu, Hui; Yang, Hongsheng

    2014-01-01

    An artificial oyster shell reef was deployed in Rongcheng Bay, East China. However, the effects of this reef on the surrounding macrobenthic communities were unknown. We compared sedimentary factors, macrobenthic biomass, abundance, and community composition and ecological indicators between the reef and non-reef areas over a one year period. The mean values for chlorophyll a (Chl a), total organic matter (TOM), total organic carbon (TOC), and total nitrogen (TN) content in surface sediments in the reef area were slightly higher than those in the non-reef area. The Chl a levels differed significantly between the two areas, but the TOM, TOC, and TN were not significantly different. The abundance of crustaceans was significantly different between the two areas, but the abundance and biomass of polychaetes, echinoderms, mollusk did not differ significantly. The permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA) revealed that the macrobenthic community differed significantly through time and analysis of similarity multivariate analyses (ANOSIM) revealed that the macrobenthic community differed significantly in some months. The ecological indicators revealed that the environmental quality of the reef area was slightly better than that of the non-reef area. Overall, our results suggest that the artificial oyster shell reef may change the macrobenthic community and the quality of the environment. Despite the lack of an effect in the short term, long-term monitoring is still needed to evaluate the effects of artificial oyster shell reefs on macrobenthic communities.

  4. Contribution of planktonic and benthic food sources to the diet of the reef-forming vermetid gastropod Dendropoma petraeum in the western Mediterranean

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vizzini, Salvatrice; Colombo, Francesca; Costa, Valentina; Mazzola, Antonio

    2012-01-01

    In the Mediterranean Sea, the vermetid Dendropoma petraeum (Monterosato, 1884) forms highly biodiverse reefs that have received increasing attention in recent years although very little is known about the food habit of this species. The main goal of this study was to describe the trophic role of planktonic and benthic food sources for D. petraeum. Specimens from three morphological zones of the reef (inner edge, cuvette and outer edge) at two sites with different wave exposure along the north-western coast of Sicily (Italy; western Mediterranean) were compared for δ 13C and δ 15N. Isotopic determinations were also carried out on potential food sources identified in epilithon, reef macroalgae and suspended particulate organic matter. δ 13C for D. petraeum showed significantly more depleted values in the more exposed conditions (i.e. the site with higher wave exposure and outer edge of the reef), while δ 15N did not differ appreciably. These results suggest greater exploitation of benthic sources in the sheltered than in the exposed site and reveal diet shift and trophic flexibility at a small spatial scale for the reef-former D. petraeum.

  5. The Power of Computer-aided Tomography to Investigate Marine Benthic Communities

    EPA Science Inventory

    Utilization of Computer-aided-Tomography (CT) technology is a powerful tool to investigate benthic communities in aquatic systems. In this presentation, we will attempt to summarize our 15 years of experience in developing specific CT methods and applications to marine benthic co...

  6. Phosphorus as a Limiting Nutrient in Zooplankton Communities Above a Reef Dominated by the Invasive Quagga Mussel

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hughes, J.; Cuhel, R. L.; Aguilar, C.

    2008-12-01

    Comprehensive water column data were retrieved from three sites in open waters of Lake Michigan during the summer of 2008. At two, the invasive quagga mussel (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) functioned as a phosphorus sink. One of these sites, Sheboygan Reef (SR04), exhibited a lower average soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) value throughout its water column. The large size fraction of the phytoplankton community at this site contained proportionally less of the total seston phosphorus than at other comparable sites. Instead of this simply being a reflection of less large phytoplankton, phosphorus enrichment experiments conducted along with other lines of evidence indicate it may, in fact, reflect less phosphorus per unit of weight in the large phytoplankton community. In these experiments, larger phytoplankton were observed to be less efficient at assimilating phosphate after low-level additions (0.1 μM) were made to simulate the amount of phosphorus added during for example a rainstorm. The relatively inefficient uptake of short-term injections of phosphate observed in the large phytoplankton class is more influential on the overall uptake of phosphorus at a site like SR04 which ordinarily has low levels of available phosphorus (<40nM). This lends credence to the notion that larger phytoplankton at SR04 had less phosphorus per unit of weight than at proximal sites off the Sheboygan Reef. Possibly as a consequence, the zooplankton community atop the Sheboygan Reef showed signs of relative phosphorus deficit. The benthic quagga mussel community at this site (>10,000 m-2) dominated the phosphorus inventory (mmol P/m2). Furthermore, C:N:P ratios indicate that zooplankton at all three sites may be suffering from a phosphorus deficit. A dominant presence of quagga mussels at Sheboygan Reef was correlated with decreased SRP levels and relatively low levels of phosphorus at the producer and consumer levels in the water column.

  7. Stromatolites associated with coralgal communities in Holocene high-energy reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Montaggioni, Lucien F.; Camoin, Gilbert F.

    1993-02-01

    Thick laminar to columnar stromatolitic growths encrust typical high-energy coralgal reef communities in a French Polynesian outer-reef edge. The reef communities accumulated during vertical growth from 5870 ±100 yr B.P. to the present, at depths never exceeding 5 m below mean sea level. Oxygen and carbon isotope records and high calcification rates of stromatolite-encrusted corals strongly suggest that for about the past 6000 yr, the local environmental conditions were optimal for reef development. Accordingly, stromatolites can grow in healthy Holocene reefs. Because similar stromatolites have been recorded in other Cenozoic reefs, we suggest that microbial structures may have played a more prominent role in Cenozoic reef growth than is currently recognized.

  8. Coral reef condition and benthic sedimentation threat in four regions of south Puerto Rico

    EPA Science Inventory

    Scleractinian corals, gorgonian octocorals, sponges and fishes were assessed near the cities of LaParguera, Guánica, Guayanilla, and Jobos along the southern coast of Puerto Rico in November – December 2010. Survey sites were targeted near areas with varying benthic...

  9. Decadal coral community reassembly on an African fringing reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McClanahan, T. R.

    2014-12-01

    Changes in the cover of the dominant hard coral taxa were studied on seven Kenyan back reefs over 20 yr. All factors of time, taxa, site, and their interactions were statistically significant and the 1998 temperature anomaly caused the greatest community changes. The 1998 disturbance changes reflected a classic coral succession, which included partial or little mortality and persistence of stress tolerant (massive and submassive growth forms) and early colonization by weedy taxa (pocilloporids). Nevertheless, competitive taxa had high and full mortality and the expected dominance of acroporids was inhibited even ~13 yr after the disturbance. So, while total hard coral cover displayed the expected logistic recovery where maximum cover was reached <10 yr after the disturbance, the poor recovery of competitive dominants resulted in less than expected coral cover. A number of stress-resistant and weedy taxa (poritids, agaricidae, faviids, and pocilloporids) are expected to dominate the composition of these reefs in the future. Nevertheless, three submassive faviids and branching Porites began to decline toward the end of the time series, indicating further stress after 1998. Increased algal cover and other unstudied factors, including milder warming, may explain these changes. The patterns of change on this continental fringing reef differ from recovery of more remote, offshore islands. This probably reflects low acroporid dominance and recruitment limitations associated with greater anthropogenic influences of high sea urchin grazing and terrestrial runoff.

  10. Coral communities of the remote atoll reefs in the Nansha Islands, southern South China Sea.

    PubMed

    Zhao, M X; Yu, K F; Shi, Q; Chen, T R; Zhang, H L; Chen, T G

    2013-09-01

    During the months of May and June in the year 2007, a survey was conducted regarding coral reef communities in the remote atolls (Zhubi Reef and Meiji Reef) of Nansha Islands, southern South China Sea. The goals of the survey were to: (1) for the first time, compile a scleractinian coral check-list; (2) estimate the total richness, coral cover, and growth forms of the community; and (3) describe preliminary patterns of community structure according to geomorphological units. Findings of this survey revealed a total of 120 species of scleractinia belonging to 40 genera, while the average coral cover was 21 %, ranging from less than 10 % to higher than 50 %. Branching and massive corals were also found to be the most important growth forms of the whole coral community, while Acropora, Montipora, and Porites were the three dominant genera in the overall region, with their contributions to total coral cover measuring 21, 22, and 23 %, respectively. Overall, coral communities of the Nansha Islands were in a relative healthy condition with high species diversity and coral cover. Spatial pattern of coral communities existed among various geomorphological units. Mean coral cover was highest in the patch reef within the lagoon, followed by the fore reef slope, reef flat, and lagoon slope. The greatest contributors to total coral cover were branching Acropora (45 %) in the lagoon slope, branching Montipora (44 %) in the reef flat, and massive Porites (51 %) in the patch reef. Coral cover in the fore reef revealed a greater range of genera than in other habitats. The leeward fore reef slope had higher coral cover (> 50 %) when compared with the windward slope (< 10 %). The coral communities of the inner reef flat were characterized by higher coral cover (27 %) and dominant branching Montipora corals, while lower coral cover (4 %) was dominated by Psammocora with massive growth forms on the outer reef flat. Destructive fishing and coral bleaching were two major threats to

  11. Effect of Organic Enrichment and Hypoxia on the Biodiversity of Benthic Communities in Narragansett Bay

    EPA Science Inventory

    Excessive input of nitrogen to coastal waters leads to eutrophication and hypoxia that reduce biodiversity and impair key ecosystem services provided by benthic communities; for example, fish and shellfish production, bioturbation, nutrient cycling, and water filtration. Hypoxia ...

  12. Ecological periodic tables for nekton and benthic macrofaunal community usage of estuarine habitats Slides

    EPA Science Inventory

    Ecological periodic tables for nekton and benthic macrofaunal community usage of estuarine habitats Steven P. Ferraro, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Newport, OR Background/Questions/Methods The chemical periodic table, the Linnaean system of classification, and the Her...

  13. ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES ON BENTHIC COMMUNITY STRUCTURE IN A GREAT LAKES EMBAYMENT

    EPA Science Inventory

    An Intensified Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) sampling grid in the St. Louis River estuary of western Lake Superior was used toassess the relationship between surficial sediment characteristics and benthic community structure. Ninety sites within two habit...

  14. Benthic infaunal community structuring in an acidified tropical estuarine system

    PubMed Central

    2014-01-01

    Background Recent studies suggest that increasing ocean acidification (OA) should have strong direct and indirect influences on marine invertebrates. While most theory and application for OA is based on relatively physically-stable oceanic ecological systems, less is known about the effects of acidification on nearshore and estuarine systems. Here, we investigated the structuring of a benthic infaunal community in a tropical estuarine system, along a steep salinity and pH gradient, arising largely from acid-sulphate groundwater inflows (Sungai Brunei Estuary, Borneo, July 2011- June 2012). Results Preliminary data indicate that sediment pore-water salinity (range: 8.07 - 29.6 psu) declined towards the mainland in correspondence with the above-sediment estuarine water salinity (range: 3.58 – 31.2 psu), whereas the pore-water pH (range: 6.47- 7.72) was generally lower and less variable than the estuarine water pH (range: 5.78- 8.3), along the estuary. Of the thirty six species (taxa) recorded, the polychaetes Neanthes sp., Onuphis conchylega, Nereididae sp. and the amphipod Corophiidae sp., were numerically dominant. Calcified microcrustaceans (e.g., Cyclopoida sp. and Corophiidae sp.) were abundant at all stations and there was no clear distinction in distribution pattern along the estuarine between calcified and non-calcified groups. Species richness increased seawards, though abundance (density) showed no distinct directional trend. Diversity indices were generally positively correlated (Spearman’s rank correlation) with salinity and pH (p <0.05) and negatively with clay and organic matter, except for evenness values (p >0.05). Three faunistic assemblages were distinguished: (1) nereid-cyclopoid-sabellid, (2) corophiid-capitellid and (3) onuphid- nereid-capitellid. These respectively associated with lower salinity/pH and a muddy bottom, low salinity/pH and a sandy bottom, and high salinity/pH and a sandy bottom. However, CCA suggested that species distribution

  15. Drowned reefs and carbonate platforms: reef-community disruption by nutrients provides a clue to the paradox

    SciTech Connect

    Hallock, P.

    1985-01-01

    Growth rates of corals on Holocene reefs indicate that carbonate platforms should easily keep pace with long-term subsidence and sea-level changes, yet drowned reefs and platforms are common in the geologic record. Recognition of the influence of nutrients in reef communities provides a clue to that paradox. Coral reefs are ecosystems adapted to nutrient-deficient environments. Input of nitrates and phosphates stimulates growth of plankton and, in the benthos, of fleshy algae and suspension-feeding animals such as bryozoans, barnacles, boring bivalves, sponges and tunicates. These fast-growing organisms not only displace the hermatypic algae and corals that produce most of the carbonate, but many are bioeroders that actively destroy the reefal structure. Nutrient enrichment can result from either runoff or upwelling. Thus, not only are terrigenous sediments detrimental to reefs, but suppression of reef development by nutrients carried in runoff from land can extend well beyond the range of sediment influx. Understanding that increased organic productivity disrupts reefal communities and curtails carbonate production provides important new insights for paleoenvironmental interpretations. Carbonate platforms that have succumbed to upwelled nutrients may include those whose drownings coincide with times of increasing deep-ocean circulation.

  16. Depth-related variation in epiphytic communities growing on the brown alga Lobophora variegata in a Caribbean coral reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fricke, A.; Titlyanova, T. V.; Nugues, M. M.; Bischof, K.

    2011-12-01

    Lobophora variegata is a dominant macroalga on coral reefs across the Caribbean. Over the last two decades, it has expanded its vertical distribution to both shallow and deep reefs along the leeward coast of the island of Curaçao, Southern Caribbean. However, the ecological implications of this expansion and the role of L. variegata as a living substratum are poorly known. This study compared epiphytic algal communities on L. variegata blades along two depth transects (6-40 m). The epiphytic community was diverse with a total of 70 species of which 49 were found directly attached to L. variegata. The epiphytic community varied significantly between blade surface, depth and site. The greatest number of genera per blade was found growing on the underside of the blades regardless of site and depth. Filamentous red algae (e.g. Neosiphonia howei) were commonly found on the upperside of the blades over the whole depth gradient, whereas the underside was mainly colonized by calcifying (e.g. Hydrolithon spp., Jania spp., Amphiroa fragillissima), fleshy red algae (e.g. Champia spp., Gelidiopsis spp., Hypnea spinella) and foliose brown alga (e.g. Dictyota spp.). Anotrichum tenue, a red alga capable of overgrowing corals, was a common epiphyte of both blade surfaces. L. variegata plays an important role as a newly available substratum. Thus, its spread may influence other algal species and studies of benthic macroalgae such as L. variegata should also take into consideration their associated epiphytic algal communities.

  17. Benthic control freaks: Effects of the tubiculous amphipod Haploops nirae on the specific diversity and functional structure of benthic communities

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rigolet, Carinne; Dubois, Stanislas F.; Thiébaut, Eric

    2014-01-01

    Haploops nirae is a gregarious tubiculous amphipod which extended its habitat over thousands of hectares in shallow waters of South Brittany bays (Bay of Biscay, Atlantic) over the last decades and created uniquely large and dense tube mats. In the bay of Concarneau, we investigated the specific diversity (i.e. species richness and species composition) and the functional structure (using biological traits) of the macrofauna associated with this Haploops community as a comparison with several surrounding soft-sediment communities to determine the effect of this engineer species on ecosystem functions. We showed that the occurrence of Haploops tubes and individuals significantly modifies sediment features (e.g. change in sediment grain size, increase in C and N organic content) but also largely affect species diversity and benthic composition. The species richness was significantly higher in Haploops community but the species assemblage associated with Haploops habitat was very homogeneous compared to the neighboring habitats and unique with 33% of all species exclusively found in this community. Multivariate analysis (dbRDA) revealed that Haploops density was by far the factor explaining the variation in species composition of benthic communities. No differences in species diversity and assemblage were detected in relationship to Haploops density. A biological trait analysis performed on the whole ecosystem (Haploops included) revealed that Haploops largely dominates the functional structure of the Haploops community by its own functional traits. When performed on selected traits of the associated fauna only (Haploops excluded) the functional structure of the Haploops community was characterized by a greatly reduced proportion of small to medium long lived, sensitive to disturbance, free living or burrowing/tube-building filter-feeding species. H. nirae appears to be a bioengineer and a foundation species that largely modifies its hydro-sedimentary features

  18. A comparison of the benthic bacterial communities within and surrounding Dreissena clusters in lakes.

    PubMed

    Lohner, Rachel N; Sigler, Von; Mayer, Christine M; Balogh, Csilla

    2007-10-01

    The impact of Dreissena (Dreissena polymorpha and D. bugensis) on the benthic bacterial community in lakes is largely unknown. Therefore, we quantified differences in the structure and activity of bacterial communities living in sediments (1) associated with Dreissena clusters, and (2) unassociated with established clusters (lake bottom sediments). Dreissena clusters and sediments were collected from locations in Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and several inland lakes. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis of the benthic bacterial community showed that the bacterial populations selected for by Dreissena represent a subset of the bottom communities and are geographically distinct. Community-level physiological profiling (CLPP) showed that overall bacterial activity and metabolic diversity were enhanced by the presence of clusters in all samples, with the exception of those harvested from the two Lake Erie sites. Therefore, Dreissena appears to affect both structure and metabolic function of the benthic bacterial community and may have yet unexplored ecosystem and food web consequences. PMID:17308984

  19. Faunal community use of enhanced and natural oyster reefs in Delaware Bay: A field study and classroom inquiry

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Paterno, Jenny L.

    In addition to its value as a fisheries resource, the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica, is a reef building, cornerstone species that provides ecosystem services to the environment. Oysters provide habitat for associated resident and transient species. With widespread declines in oyster populations, restoration efforts have focused on improving oyster stocks and enhancing the ecosystem services they provide. Community-based oyster restoration programs engage the public and local community in planning, construction and/or monitoring of restoration projects. Since 2007, a K-12 student centered community-based restoration venture, Project PORTS, Promoting Oyster Restoration Through Schools, has been working to educate students, promote stewardship values, and enhance oyster habitat in the Delaware Bay. The overarching goals of the present study were to (1) assess fish and macroinvertebrate utilization on the Project PORTS community-created, subtidal, low-relief oyster restoration area in the Delaware Bay, and (2) convert the data collected into a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activity that can be implemented in the classroom. I examined six subtidal natural oyster reefs of varying oyster densities and one community-based restoration reef as habitat for fishes and invertebrates. Sampling methods on these low-relief reefs consisted of otter trawl tows and benthic habitat tray collections. Results revealed that the enhancement area supported a diverse faunal community consistent with nearby, natural oyster habitats. Data collected during the field study were then transformed into an educational lesson plan, "One Fish, Two Fish-Assessing Habitat Value of Restored Oyster Reefs", that fulfilled national and state (NJ) curriculum standards. The lesson was piloted in a middle school classroom and student learning was evaluated through summative assessments pre and post-participation in the activity. Results of the assessments indicated that

  20. Relationships between reef fish communities and remotely sensed rugosity measurements in Biscayne National Park, Florida, USA

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Brock, John C.; Grober-Dunsmore, Rikki; Bonito, Victor E.; Hickey, T. Donald; Wright, C. Wayne

    2007-01-01

    The realization that coral reef ecosystem management must occur across multiple spatial scales and habitat types has led scientists and resource managers to seek variables that are easily measured over large areas and correlate well with reef resources. Here we investigate the utility of new technology in airborne laser surveying (NASA Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL)) in assessing topographical complexity (rugosity) to predict reef fish community structure on shallow (n = 10–13 per reef). Rugosity at each station was assessed in situ by divers using the traditional chain-transect method (10-m scale), and remotely using the EAARL submarine topography data at multiple spatial scales (2, 5, and 10 m). The rugosity and biological datasets were analyzed together to elucidate the predictive power of EAARL rugosity in describing the variance in reef fish community variables and to assess the correlation between chain-transect and EAARL rugosity. EAARL rugosity was not well correlated with chain-transect rugosity, or with species richness of fishes (although statistically significant, the amount of variance explained by the model was very low). Variance in reef fish community attributes was better explained in reef-by-reef variability than by physical variables. However, once the reef-by-reef variability was taken into account in a two-way analysis of variance, the importance of rugosity could be seen on individual reefs. Fish species richness and abundance were statistically higher at high rugosity stations compared to medium and low rugosity stations, as predicted by prior ecological research. The EAARL shows promise as an important mapping tool for reef resource managers as they strive to inventory and protect coral reef resources.

  1. Norwegian deep-water coral reefs: cultivation and molecular analysis of planktonic microbial communities.

    PubMed

    Jensen, Sigmund; Lynch, Michael D J; Ray, Jessica L; Neufeld, Josh D; Hovland, Martin

    2015-10-01

    Deep-sea coral reefs do not receive sunlight and depend on plankton. Little is known about the plankton composition at such reefs, even though they constitute habitats for many invertebrates and fish. We investigated plankton communities from three reefs at 260-350 m depth at hydrocarbon fields off the mid-Norwegian coast using a combination of cultivation and small subunit (SSU) rRNA gene and transcript sequencing. Eight months incubations of a reef water sample with minimal medium, supplemented with carbon dioxide and gaseous alkanes at in situ-like conditions, enabled isolation of mostly Alphaproteobacteria (Sulfitobacter, Loktanella), Gammaproteobacteria (Colwellia) and Flavobacteria (Polaribacter). The relative abundance of isolates in the original sample ranged from ∼ 0.01% to 0.80%. Comparisons of bacterial SSU sequences from filtered plankton of reef and non-reef control samples indicated high abundance and metabolic activity of primarily Alphaproteobacteria (SAR11 Ia), Gammaproteobacteria (ARCTIC96BD-19), but also of Deltaproteobacteria (Nitrospina, SAR324). Eukaryote SSU sequences indicated metabolically active microalgae and animals, including codfish, at the reef sites. The plankton community composition varied between reefs and differed between DNA and RNA assessments. Over 5000 operational taxonomic units were detected, some indicators of reef sites (e.g. Flavobacteria, Cercozoa, Demospongiae) and some more active at reef sites (e.g. Gammaproteobacteria, Ciliophora, Copepoda). PMID:24911121

  2. Consequences of Increasing Hypoxic Disturbance on Benthic Communities and Ecosystem Functioning

    PubMed Central

    Villnäs, Anna; Norkko, Joanna; Lukkari, Kaarina; Hewitt, Judi; Norkko, Alf

    2012-01-01

    Disturbance-mediated species loss has prompted research considering how ecosystem functions are changed when biota is impaired. However, there is still limited empirical evidence from natural environments evaluating the direct and indirect (i.e. via biota) effects of disturbance on ecosystem functioning. Oxygen deficiency is a widespread threat to coastal and estuarine communities. While the negative impacts of hypoxia on benthic communities are well known, few studies have assessed in situ how benthic communities subjected to different degrees of hypoxic stress alter their contribution to ecosystem functioning. We studied changes in sediment ecosystem function (i.e. oxygen and nutrient fluxes across the sediment water-interface) by artificially inducing hypoxia of different durations (0, 3, 7 and 48 days) in a subtidal sandy habitat. Benthic chamber incubations were used for measuring responses in sediment oxygen and nutrient fluxes. Changes in benthic species richness, structure and traits were quantified, while stress-induced behavioral changes were documented by observing bivalve reburial rates. The initial change in faunal behavior was followed by non-linear degradation in benthic parameters (abundance, biomass, bioturbation potential), gradually impairing the structural and functional composition of the benthic community. In terms of ecosystem function, the increasing duration of hypoxia altered sediment oxygen consumption and enhanced sediment effluxes of NH4+ and dissolved Si. Although effluxes of PO43− were not altered significantly, changes were observed in sediment PO43− sorption capability. The duration of hypoxia (i.e. number of days of stress) explained a minor part of the changes in ecosystem function. Instead, the benthic community and disturbance-driven changes within the benthos explained a larger proportion of the variability in sediment oxygen- and nutrient fluxes. Our results emphasize that the level of stress to the benthic habitat matters

  3. The Ecology of Intertidal Oyster Reefs of the South Atlantic Coast: A Community Profile

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bahr, Leonard M.; Lanier, William P.

    1981-01-01

    The functional role of the intertidal oyster reef community in the southeastern Atlantic coastal zone is described. This description is based on a compilation of published data, as well as some unpublished information presented as hypotheses. The profile is organized in a hierarchical manner, such that relevant details of reef oyster biology (autecology) are presented, followed by a description of the reef community level of organization. Then the reef community is described as a subsystem of the coastal marsh-ecosystem (synecoloqy). This information is also synthesized in a series of nested conceptual models of oyster reefs at the regional level, the drainage basin level, and the individual reef level. The final chapter includes a summary overview and a section on management implications and guidelines. Intertidal oyster reefs are relatively persistent features of the salt marsh estuarine ecosystem in the southeastern Atlantic coastal zone. The average areal extent of the oyster reef subsystem in this larger ecosystem is relatively small (about 0.05%). This proportion does not reflect, however, the functional importance of the reef subsystem in stablizing the marsh, providing food for estuarine consumers, mineralizing organic matter, and providing firm substrates in this otherwise soft environment.

  4. Diverse coral communities in naturally acidified waters of a Western Pacific reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shamberger, Kathryn E. F.; Cohen, Anne L.; Golbuu, Yimnang; McCorkle, Daniel C.; Lentz, Steven J.; Barkley, Hannah C.

    2014-01-01

    Anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are acidifying the oceans, reducing the concentration of carbonate ions ([CO32-]) that calcifying organisms need to build and cement coral reefs. To date, studies of a handful of naturally acidified reef systems reveal depauperate communities, sometimes with reduced coral cover and calcification rates, consistent with results of laboratory-based studies. Here we report the existence of highly diverse, coral-dominated reef communities under chronically low pH and aragonite saturation state (Ωar). Biological and hydrographic processes change the chemistry of the seawater moving across the barrier reefs and into Palau's Rock Island bays, where levels of acidification approach those projected for the western tropical Pacific open ocean by 2100. Nevertheless, coral diversity, cover, and calcification rates are maintained across this natural acidification gradient. Identifying the combination of biological and environmental factors that enable these communities to persist could provide important insights into the future of coral reefs under anthropogenic acidification.

  5. Predation and landscape characteristics independently affect reef fish community organization.

    PubMed

    Stier, Adrian C; Hanson, Katharine M; Holbrook, Sally J; Schmitt, Russell J; Brooks, Andrew J

    2014-05-01

    Trophic island biogeography theory predicts that the effects of predators on prey diversity are context dependent in heterogeneous landscapes. Specifically, models predict that the positive effect of habitat area on prey diversity should decline in the presence of predators, and that predators should modify the partitioning of alpha and beta diversity across patchy landscapes. However, experimental tests of the predicted context dependency in top-down control remain limited. Using a factorial field experiment we quantify the effects of a focal predatory fish species (grouper) and habitat characteristics (patch size, fragmentation) on the partitioning of diversity and assembly of coral reef fish communities. We found independent effects of groupers and patch characteristics on prey communities. Groupers reduced prey abundance by 50% and gamma diversity by 45%, with a disproportionate removal of rare species relative to common species (64% and 36% reduction, respectively; an oddity effect). Further, there was a 77% reduction in beta diversity. Null model analysis demonstrated that groupers increased the importance of stochastic community assembly relative to patches without groupers. With regard to patch size, larger patches contained more fishes, but a doubling of patch size led to a modest (36%) increase in prey abundance. Patch size had no effect on prey diversity; however, fragmented patches had 50% higher species richness and modified species composition relative to unfragmented patches. Our findings suggest two different pathways (i.e., habitat or predator shifts) by which natural and/or anthropogenic processes can drive variation in fish biodiversity and community assembly. PMID:25000761

  6. Effects of oyster harvest activities on Louisiana reef habitat and resident nekton communities

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Beck, Steve; LaPeyre, Megan K.

    2015-01-01

    Oysters are often cited as “ecosystem engineers” because they modify their environment. Coastal Louisiana contains extensive oyster reef areas that have been harvested for decades, and whether differences in habitat functions exist between those areas and nonharvested reefs is unclear. We compared reef physical structure and resident community metrics between these 2 subtidal reef types. Harvested reefs were more fragmented and had lower densities of live eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) and hooked mussels (Ischadium recurvum) than the nonharvested reefs. Stable isotope values (13C and 15N) of dominant nekton species and basal food sources were used to compare food web characteristics. Nonpelagic source contributions and trophic positions of dominant species were slightly elevated at harvested sites. Oyster harvesting appeared to have decreased the number of large oysters and to have increased the percentage of reefs that were nonliving by decreasing water column filtration and benthopelagic coupling. The differences in reef matrix composition, however, had little effect on resident nekton communities. Understanding the thresholds of reef habitat areas, the oyster density or oyster size distribution below which ecosystem services may be compromised, remains key to sustainable management.

  7. Determining the extent and characterizing coral reef habitats of the northern latitudes of the Florida Reef Tract (Martin County).

    PubMed

    Walker, Brian K; Gilliam, David S

    2013-01-01

    Climate change has recently been implicated in poleward shifts of many tropical species including corals; thus attention focused on higher-latitude coral communities is warranted to investigate possible range expansions and ecosystem shifts due to global warming. As the northern extension of the Florida Reef Tract (FRT), the third-largest barrier reef ecosystem in the world, southeast Florida (25-27° N latitude) is a prime region to study such effects. Most of the shallow-water FRT benthic habitats have been mapped, however minimal data and limited knowledge exist about the coral reef communities of its northernmost reaches off Martin County. First benthic habitat mapping was conducted using newly acquired high resolution LIDAR bathymetry and aerial photography where possible to map the spatial extent of coral reef habitats. Quantitative data were collected to characterize benthic cover and stony coral demographics and a comprehensive accuracy assessment was performed. The data were then analyzed in a habitat biogeography context to determine if a new coral reef ecosystem region designation was warranted. Of the 374 km(2) seafloor mapped, 95.2% was Sand, 4.1% was Coral Reef and Colonized Pavement, and 0.7% was Other Delineations. Map accuracy assessment yielded an overall accuracy of 94.9% once adjusted for known map marginal proportions. Cluster analysis of cross-shelf habitat type and widths indicated that the benthic habitats were different than those further south and warranted designation of a new coral reef ecosystem region. Unlike the FRT further south, coral communities were dominated by cold-water tolerant species and LIDAR morphology indicated no evidence of historic reef growth during warmer climates. Present-day hydrographic conditions may be inhibiting poleward expansion of coral communities along Florida. This study provides new information on the benthic community composition of the northern FRT, serving as a baseline for future community shift and

  8. Determining the Extent and Characterizing Coral Reef Habitats of the Northern Latitudes of the Florida Reef Tract (Martin County)

    PubMed Central

    Walker, Brian K.; Gilliam, David S.

    2013-01-01

    Climate change has recently been implicated in poleward shifts of many tropical species including corals; thus attention focused on higher-latitude coral communities is warranted to investigate possible range expansions and ecosystem shifts due to global warming. As the northern extension of the Florida Reef Tract (FRT), the third-largest barrier reef ecosystem in the world, southeast Florida (25–27° N latitude) is a prime region to study such effects. Most of the shallow-water FRT benthic habitats have been mapped, however minimal data and limited knowledge exist about the coral reef communities of its northernmost reaches off Martin County. First benthic habitat mapping was conducted using newly acquired high resolution LIDAR bathymetry and aerial photography where possible to map the spatial extent of coral reef habitats. Quantitative data were collected to characterize benthic cover and stony coral demographics and a comprehensive accuracy assessment was performed. The data were then analyzed in a habitat biogeography context to determine if a new coral reef ecosystem region designation was warranted. Of the 374 km2 seafloor mapped, 95.2% was Sand, 4.1% was Coral Reef and Colonized Pavement, and 0.7% was Other Delineations. Map accuracy assessment yielded an overall accuracy of 94.9% once adjusted for known map marginal proportions. Cluster analysis of cross-shelf habitat type and widths indicated that the benthic habitats were different than those further south and warranted designation of a new coral reef ecosystem region. Unlike the FRT further south, coral communities were dominated by cold-water tolerant species and LIDAR morphology indicated no evidence of historic reef growth during warmer climates. Present-day hydrographic conditions may be inhibiting poleward expansion of coral communities along Florida. This study provides new information on the benthic community composition of the northern FRT, serving as a baseline for future community shift and

  9. Importance of allochthonous material in benthic macrofaunal community functioning in estuarine salt marshes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kon, Koetsu; Hoshino, Yukihiro; Kanou, Kouki; Okazaki, Daisuke; Nakayama, Satoko; Kohno, Hiroshi

    2012-01-01

    Allochthonous input provides important food and spatial resources for estuarine benthic fauna. While it is known that autochthonous materials are important for fauna occupying small marshes, here, we present the significance of allochthonous materials for benthic fauna inhabiting a large salt marsh. To assess the effects of allochthonous input on benthic macrofaunal communities in estuarine salt marshes, we determined the source of substrate sediments and food resource utilisation patterns of benthic invertebrates in 2 temperate estuaries (the Tama River and the Obitsu River estuarine outlets into Tokyo Bay) by using stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses. In the Tama River estuary, which has small patches of marsh vegetation upstream of the river mouth, there was an input of sedimentary organic matter from autochthonous sources (i.e. common reed and microphytobenthos). In the Obitsu River estuary salt marsh, which is situated immediately upstream of the river mouth and is well connected to the sea, sediment consists of allochthonous sources (i.e. imported phytoplankton), along with microphytobenthos. Isotope analysis indicated that most benthic invertebrates in the Tama River estuary depend on benthic microalgae (autochthonous) as a food resource, whereas the macrofauna in the Obitsu River estuary are supported by drift macroalgae (allochthonous), in addition to microphytobenthos or phytoplankton. Our results indicated that allochthonous material provides a food resource and potential habitat for benthic macrofauna in extensive salt marshes that have a strong connection to the sea but is not substantial in smaller marshes with limited connectivity to coastal water.

  10. Benthic habitat classification in Lignumvitae Key Basin, Florida Bay, using the U.S. Geological Survey Along-Track Reef Imaging System (ATRIS)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Reich, C.D.; Zawada, D.G.; Thompson, P.R.; Reynolds, C.E.; Spear, A.H.; Umberger, D.K.; Poore, R.Z.

    2011-01-01

    The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) funded in partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Florida Water Management District, and other Federal, local and Tribal members has in its mandate a guideline to protect and restore freshwater flows to coastal environments to pre-1940s conditions (CERP, 1999). Historic salinity data are sparse for Florida Bay, so it is difficult for water managers to decide what the correct quantity, quality, timing, and distribution of freshwater are to maintain a healthy and productive estuarine ecosystem. Proxy records of seasurface temperature (SST) and salinity have proven useful in south Florida. Trace-element chemistry on foraminifera and molluscan shells preserved in shallow-water sediments has provided some information on historical salinity and temperature variability in coastal settings, but little information is available for areas within the main part of Florida Bay (Brewster-Wingard and others, 1996). Geochemistry of coral skeletons can be used to develop subannually resolved proxy records for SST and salinity. Previous studies suggest corals, specifically Solenastrea bournoni, present in the lower section of Florida Bay near Lignumvitae Key, may be suitable for developing records of SST and salinity for the past century, but the distribution and species composition of the bay coral community have not been well documented (Hudson and others, 1989; Swart and others, 1999). Oddly, S. bournoni thrives in the study area because it can grow on a sandy substratum and can tolerate highly turbid water. Solenastrea bournoni coral heads in this area should be ideally located to provide a record (~100-150 years) of past temperature and salinity variations in Florida Bay. The goal of this study was to utilize the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Along-Track Reef Imaging System (ATRIS) capability to further our understanding of the abundance, distribution, and size of corals in the Lignumvitae Key Basin. The

  11. Resilience and signatures of tropicalization in protected reef fish communities

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bates, Amanda E.; Barrett, Neville S.; Stuart-Smith, Rick D.; Holbrook, Neil J.; Thompson, Peter A.; Edgar, Graham J.

    2014-01-01

    Habitat reserves can promote ecological resilience to climate variability by supporting intact trophic webs and large-bodied individuals. Protection may also alter community responses to long-term climate change by offering habitat for range-shifting species. Here we analyse the species richness, diversity and functional traits of temperate reef fish communities over 20 years in a global warming hotspot and compare patterns in a marine reserve with nearby sites open to fishing. Species richness and diversity oscillated strongly on the decadal scale. Long-term warming signatures were also present as increasing functional trait richness and functional diversity, driven in part by a general increase in herbivores. Nevertheless, reserve sites were distinguished from fished sites by displaying: greater stability in some aspects of biodiversity; recovery of large-bodied temperate species; resistance to colonization by subtropical vagrants; and less pronounced increases in the community-averaged temperature affinity. We empirically demonstrate that protection from fishing has buffered fluctuations in biodiversity and provided resistance to the initial stages of tropicalization.

  12. Variability in microbial community composition and function between different niches within a coral reef.

    PubMed

    Tout, Jessica; Jeffries, Thomas C; Webster, Nicole S; Stocker, Roman; Ralph, Peter J; Seymour, Justin R

    2014-04-01

    To explore how microbial community composition and function varies within a coral reef ecosystem, we performed metagenomic sequencing of seawater from four niches across Heron Island Reef, within the Great Barrier Reef. Metagenomes were sequenced from seawater samples associated with (1) the surface of the coral species Acropora palifera, (2) the surface of the coral species Acropora aspera, (3) the sandy substrate within the reef lagoon and (4) open water, outside of the reef crest. Microbial composition and metabolic function differed substantially between the four niches. The taxonomic profile showed a clear shift from an oligotroph-dominated community (e.g. SAR11, Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus) in the open water and sandy substrate niches, to a community characterised by an increased frequency of copiotrophic bacteria (e.g. Vibrio, Pseudoalteromonas, Alteromonas) in the coral seawater niches. The metabolic potential of the four microbial assemblages also displayed significant differences, with the open water and sandy substrate niches dominated by genes associated with core house-keeping processes such as amino acid, carbohydrate and protein metabolism as well as DNA and RNA synthesis and metabolism. In contrast, the coral surface seawater metagenomes had an enhanced frequency of genes associated with dynamic processes including motility and chemotaxis, regulation and cell signalling. These findings demonstrate that the composition and function of microbial communities are highly variable between niches within coral reef ecosystems and that coral reefs host heterogeneous microbial communities that are likely shaped by habitat structure, presence of animal hosts and local biogeochemical conditions. PMID:24477921

  13. Associations between degraded benthic communities and contaminated sediments: Sabine Lake, Lake Pontchartrain, and Choctawhatchee Bay

    SciTech Connect

    Engle, V.D.; Summers, J.K.; Macauley, J.M.

    1994-12-31

    The Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program for Estuaries (EMAP-E) in the Gulf of Mexico supplements its base sampling effort each year with localized, intensive spatial sampling in selected large estuarine systems. By selecting random locations within 70 km{sup 2} hexagonal areas, individual estuaries were sampled using EMAP methods but at four times the density as base sampling. In 1992, 19 sites were sampled in Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana. In 1 993, 18 sites were sampled in Sabine Lake, Texas and 12 sites were sampled in Choctawhatchee Bay, Florida. At all sites, sediment grabs were taken and analyzed for benthic species composition and abundance, for toxicity to Ampelisca, and for organic and inorganic sediment contaminants. An indicator of biotic integrity, the benthic index, was calculated to represent the status of benthic communities. A series of statistical techniques, such as stepwise regression analysis, were employed to determine whether the variation in the benthic index could be associated with variation in sediment contaminants, sediment toxicity, or levels of dissolved oxygen. Spatial distributions of these parameters were examined to determine the geographical co-occurrence of degraded benthic communities and environmental stressors. In Lake Pontchartrain, for example, 85% of the variation in the benthic index was associated with decreased levels of dissolved oxygen, and increased concentrations of PCBs, alkanes, copper, tin, and zinc in the sediments.

  14. Biogeography of Planktonic and Benthic Archaeal Communities in a Subtropical Eutrophic Estuary of China.

    PubMed

    Hu, Anyi; Hou, Liyuan; Yu, Chang-Ping

    2015-08-01

    Mounting evidence suggests that Archaea are widespread and abundant in aquatic and terrestrial habitats and play fundamental roles in global biogeochemical cycles, yet the pattern and its ecological drivers of biogeographic distribution of archaeal community in estuarine ecosystem are still not well understood. Here, we investigated planktonic and benthic archaeal communities in the human-impacted Jiulong River estuary (JRE), southern China by using real-time PCR (RT-PCR) and Illumina 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) amplicon sequencing. RT-PCR analysis indicated that Archaea accounted for an average of 0.79 and 5.31 % of prokaryotic biomass in water and sediment samples of the JRE, respectively. The diversity of planktonic archaeal community decreased gradually from the river runoff to seawater, whereas that of benthic community did not show the similar pattern. The results of taxonomic assignments indicated that Thaumarchaeota (Nitrosopumilus and Cenarchaeum), Methanocorpusculum, and Methanospirillum were significantly more abundant in planktonic than benthic communities, whereas the relative abundances of Miscellaneous Crenarchaeotic Group, Marine Benthic Group-B/-D, anaerobic methane-oxidizing Archaea -1/-2D, and South Africa Gold Mine Euryarchaeotic Group 1 were higher in sediments than in surface waters. Moreover, planktonic archaeal community composition varied significantly at broad and finer-scale taxonomic levels along the salinity gradient. Multivariate statistical analyses revealed that salinity is the main factor structuring the JRE planktonic but not benthic archaeal community at both total community and population level. SourceTrakcer analysis indicated that river might be a major source of archaea in the freshwater zone of the JRE. Overall, this study advances our understanding of the biogeographic patterns and its ecological drivers of estuarine archaeal communities. PMID:25805214

  15. Nitrogen and phosphorus uptake rates of different species from a coral reef community after a nutrient pulse

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    den Haan, Joost; Huisman, Jef; Brocke, Hannah J.; Goehlich, Henry; Latijnhouwers, Kelly R. W.; van Heeringen, Seth; Honcoop, Saskia A. S.; Bleyenberg, Tanja E.; Schouten, Stefan; Cerli, Chiara; Hoitinga, Leo; Vermeij, Mark J. A.; Visser, Petra M.

    2016-06-01

    Terrestrial runoff after heavy rainfall can increase nutrient concentrations in waters overlying coral reefs that otherwise experience low nutrient levels. Field measurements during a runoff event showed a sharp increase in nitrate (75-fold), phosphate (31-fold) and ammonium concentrations (3-fold) in waters overlying a fringing reef at the island of Curaçao (Southern Caribbean). To understand how benthic reef organisms make use of such nutrient pulses, we determined ammonium, nitrate and phosphate uptake rates for one abundant coral species, turf algae, six macroalgal and two benthic cyanobacterial species in a series of laboratory experiments. Nutrient uptake rates differed among benthic functional groups. The filamentous macroalga Cladophora spp., turf algae and the benthic cyanobacterium Lyngbya majuscula had the highest uptake rates per unit biomass, whereas the coral Madracis mirabilis had the lowest. Combining nutrient uptake rates with the standing biomass of each functional group on the reef, we estimated that the ammonium and phosphate delivered during runoff events is mostly taken up by turf algae and the two macroalgae Lobophora variegata and Dictyota pulchella. Our results support the often proposed, but rarely tested, assumption that turf algae and opportunistic macroalgae primarily benefit from episodic inputs of nutrients to coral reefs.

  16. Nitrogen and phosphorus uptake rates of different species from a coral reef community after a nutrient pulse.

    PubMed

    den Haan, Joost; Huisman, Jef; Brocke, Hannah J; Goehlich, Henry; Latijnhouwers, Kelly R W; van Heeringen, Seth; Honcoop, Saskia A S; Bleyenberg, Tanja E; Schouten, Stefan; Cerli, Chiara; Hoitinga, Leo; Vermeij, Mark J A; Visser, Petra M

    2016-01-01

    Terrestrial runoff after heavy rainfall can increase nutrient concentrations in waters overlying coral reefs that otherwise experience low nutrient levels. Field measurements during a runoff event showed a sharp increase in nitrate (75-fold), phosphate (31-fold) and ammonium concentrations (3-fold) in waters overlying a fringing reef at the island of Curaçao (Southern Caribbean). To understand how benthic reef organisms make use of such nutrient pulses, we determined ammonium, nitrate and phosphate uptake rates for one abundant coral species, turf algae, six macroalgal and two benthic cyanobacterial species in a series of laboratory experiments. Nutrient uptake rates differed among benthic functional groups. The filamentous macroalga Cladophora spp., turf algae and the benthic cyanobacterium Lyngbya majuscula had the highest uptake rates per unit biomass, whereas the coral Madracis mirabilis had the lowest. Combining nutrient uptake rates with the standing biomass of each functional group on the reef, we estimated that the ammonium and phosphate delivered during runoff events is mostly taken up by turf algae and the two macroalgae Lobophora variegata and Dictyota pulchella. Our results support the often proposed, but rarely tested, assumption that turf algae and opportunistic macroalgae primarily benefit from episodic inputs of nutrients to coral reefs. PMID:27353576

  17. Nitrogen and phosphorus uptake rates of different species from a coral reef community after a nutrient pulse

    PubMed Central

    den Haan, Joost; Huisman, Jef; Brocke, Hannah J.; Goehlich, Henry; Latijnhouwers, Kelly R. W.; van Heeringen, Seth; Honcoop, Saskia A. S.; Bleyenberg, Tanja E.; Schouten, Stefan; Cerli, Chiara; Hoitinga, Leo; Vermeij, Mark J. A.; Visser, Petra M.

    2016-01-01

    Terrestrial runoff after heavy rainfall can increase nutrient concentrations in waters overlying coral reefs that otherwise experience low nutrient levels. Field measurements during a runoff event showed a sharp increase in nitrate (75-fold), phosphate (31-fold) and ammonium concentrations (3-fold) in waters overlying a fringing reef at the island of Curaçao (Southern Caribbean). To understand how benthic reef organisms make use of such nutrient pulses, we determined ammonium, nitrate and phosphate uptake rates for one abundant coral species, turf algae, six macroalgal and two benthic cyanobacterial species in a series of laboratory experiments. Nutrient uptake rates differed among benthic functional groups. The filamentous macroalga Cladophora spp., turf algae and the benthic cyanobacterium Lyngbya majuscula had the highest uptake rates per unit biomass, whereas the coral Madracis mirabilis had the lowest. Combining nutrient uptake rates with the standing biomass of each functional group on the reef, we estimated that the ammonium and phosphate delivered during runoff events is mostly taken up by turf algae and the two macroalgae Lobophora variegata and Dictyota pulchella. Our results support the often proposed, but rarely tested, assumption that turf algae and opportunistic macroalgae primarily benefit from episodic inputs of nutrients to coral reefs. PMID:27353576

  18. Contrasting effects of hydrological stability and flow extremes on benthic and hyporheic invertebrate communities

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stubbington, Rachel; Wood, Paul J.; Reid, Ian

    2010-05-01

    In lotic ecosystems, the most common disturbance events occur at the extremes of the hydrological continuum, i.e. spates and streambed drying. During spates, high flow velocities can mobilise sediments and displace invertebrates, and during streambed drying, loss of free water can cause mass mortality of many aquatic taxa. In both cases, invertebrates inhabiting the surface sediments are subject to a greater frequency and magnitude of disturbance than those in the hyporheic zone, and this habitat may therefore act as a refugium. Between extreme events, stable hydrological conditions allow competitive species to thrive, which can cause biotic interactions to increase. We compared the effects of flow extremes and hydrological stability on benthic and hyporheic invertebrate communities. Hydrological conditions included spates, flow recession, and localised streambed drying. During flow recession, competitive benthic taxa, particularly Gammarus pulex (Amphipoda) increased in abundance in surface sediments, causing community diversity to decline. A concurrent increase in the hyporheic abundance of G. pulex indicated that the hyporheic zone may act as a refugium from increasing biotic pressures in the benthic sediments. In contrast, spate events caused severe reductions in both benthic and hyporheic invertebrate abundance, and declines in G. pulex abundance were particularly pronounced; spate events were therefore important in increasing both benthic and hyporheic community diversity.

  19. Nitrogen fixation rates in algal turf communities of a degraded versus less degraded coral reef

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    den Haan, Joost; Visser, Petra M.; Ganase, Anjani E.; Gooren, Elfi E.; Stal, Lucas J.; van Duyl, Fleur C.; Vermeij, Mark J. A.; Huisman, Jef

    2014-12-01

    Algal turf communities are ubiquitous on coral reefs in the Caribbean and are often dominated by N2-fixing cyanobacteria. However, it is largely unknown (1) how much N2 is actually fixed by turf communities and (2) which factors affect their N2 fixation rates. Therefore, we compared N2 fixation activity by turf communities at different depths and during day and night-time on a degraded versus a less degraded coral reef site on the island of Curaçao. N2 fixation rates measured with the acetylene reduction assay were slightly higher in shallow (5-10-m depth) than in deep turf communities (30-m depth), and N2 fixation rates during the daytime significantly exceeded those during the night. N2 fixation rates by the turf communities did not differ between the degraded and less degraded reef. Both our study and a literature survey of earlier studies indicated that turf communities tend to have lower N2 fixation rates than cyanobacterial mats. However, at least in our study area, turf communities were more abundant than cyanobacterial mats. Our results therefore suggest that turf communities play an important role in the nitrogen cycle of coral reefs. N2 fixation by turfs may contribute to an undesirable positive feedback that promotes the proliferation of algal turf communities while accelerating coral reef degradation.

  20. Evaluation of tire reefs for enhancing aquatic communities in concrete-lined canals

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Mueller, Gordon; Liston, Charles R.

    1994-01-01

    Large earthen canals in the arid southwest are being lined with concrete to reduce seepage and conserve limited water supplies. Lining reduces habitat and increases operational velocities (relative to unaltered streams), which are detrimental to aquatic communities. Fish communities that become reestablished in these waterways exhibit lower species diversity, densities, and biomass than they did in the former earthen canals. Placement of low-profile tire reefs in the Coachella Canal, California, and the Hayden-Rhodes Aqueduct, Arizona, reversed these trends. Comparative sampling revealed that invertebrate and fish densities were 3 and 20 times higher, respectively, in reef areas than in typical canal sections without reefs. Tire reefs are recommended as an effective means of enhancing aquatic communities in concrete canals.

  1. Structural responses of benthic macroinvertebrate communities from different stream orders to zinc

    SciTech Connect

    Kiffney, P.M.; Clements, W.H. . Dept. of Fishery and Wildlife Biology)

    1994-03-01

    It is well established that benthic invertebrate community structure and function shift in a predictable fashion along longitudinal stream gradients as a result of variation in environmental conditions. The authors research is concerned with experimentally testing whether this shift in community structure influences the response of benthic macroinvertebrates to heavy metals. Using artificial streams, they compared effects of Zn on natural assemblages of benthic macroinvertebrates communities collected from Little Beaver Creek (LBC; a third-order stream) and the Big South Fork of the Cache la Poudre, Colorado, catchment. Organisms collected from LBC and SFP were exposed to 0 or 130 [mu]g/L Zn in indoor experimental streams for 7 d. In general, similar taxa were found at both sites, but densities were generally higher at SFP than at LBC. They observed significant effects at the community and population level as a result of Zn, stream order, and the interaction between Zn and stream order. Specifically, mayflies from both sides were sensitive to Zn, but the magnitude of the response varied between sites. The results indicate that benthic macroinvertebrate communities from different stream order may vary in sensitivity to Zn.

  2. Detection and identification of benthic communities and shoreline features in Biscayne Bay

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kolipinski, M. C.; Higer, A. L.

    1970-01-01

    Progress made in the development of a technique for identifying and delinating benthic and shoreline communities using multispectral imagery is described. Images were collected with a multispectral scanner system mounted in a C-47 aircraft. Concurrent with the overflight, ecological ground- and sea-truth information was collected at 19 sites in the bay and on the shore. Preliminary processing of the scanner imagery with a CDC 1604 digital computer provided the optimum channels for discernment among different underwater and coastal objects. Automatic mapping of the benthic plants by multiband imagery and the mapping of isotherms and hydrodynamic parameters by digital model can become an effective predictive ecological tool when coupled together. Using the two systems, it appears possible to predict conditions that could adversely affect the benthic communities. With the advent of the ERTS satellites and space platforms, imagery data could be obtained which, when used in conjunction with water-level and meteorological data, would provide for continuous ecological monitoring.

  3. The impacts of tourism on coral reef conservation awareness and support in coastal communities in Belize

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Diedrich, A.

    2007-12-01

    Marine recreational tourism is one of a number of threats to the Belize Barrier Reef but, conversely, represents both a motivation and source of resources for its conservation. The growth of tourism in Belize has resulted in the fact that many coastal communities are in varying stages of a socio-economic shift from dependence on fishing to dependence on tourism. In a nation becoming increasingly dependent on the health of its coral reef ecosystems for economic prosperity, a shift from extractive uses to their preservation is both necessary and logical. Through examining local perception data in five coastal communities in Belize, each attracting different levels of coral reef related tourism, this analysis is intended to explore the relationship between tourism development and local coral reef conservation awareness and support. The results of the analysis show a positive correlation between tourism development and coral reef conservation awareness and support in the study communities. The results also show a positive correlation between tourism development and local perceptions of quality of life, a trend that is most likely the source of the observed relationship between tourism and conservation. The study concludes that, because the observed relationship may be dependent on continued benefits from tourism as opposed to a perceived crisis in coral reef health, Belize must pay close attention to tourism impacts in the future. Failure to do this could result in a destructive feedback loop that would contribute to the degradation of the reef and, ultimately, Belize’s diminished competitiveness in the ecotourism market.

  4. Benthic processes across mixed terrigenous-carbonate sedimentary facies on the central Great Barrier Reef continental shelf

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Alongi, Daniel M.

    1989-07-01

    The shallow continental shelf of the central Great Barrier Reef province is characterized by an across-shelf gradient of terrigenous to carbonate sedimentary facies, and is a region subjected to physical disturbances from commercial prawn trawling and, less frequently, from summer cyclones and storms. The benthic regime was examined during austral spring and summer to delimit changes in relation to the sedimentary transition. Standing stocks of bacteria ( x = 1.2;range= 0.4-2.7 × 10 10cells g -1 dry wt), protozoa ( x = 1.6;range= 1.0-2.1 × 10 6cells m -2) and meiofauna (abundances: x = 1955;range= 810-3255ind.10 cm -2; biomass: x = 2028;range= 694-3130μg dry wt 10 cm -2) generally did not vary significantly across the shelf and are very abundant compared to their counterparts on other shelves. Bacterial productivity ( 3H thymidine incorporation into DNA) and specific growth rates (μ) ranged from 0.4 to 2.6 g C m -2 d -1 ( x = 1.5) and from 0.1 to 0.8 d -1 ( x = 0.3), respectively, in surface sediments and generally did not decline significantly with sediment depth. Standing amounts of chlorophyll a ( x = 0.6;range= 0.1-2.0 μg g -1dry wt) and phaeopigments ( x = 3.9;range= 1.0-1.6 μ g -1dry wt) were low compared with pigment levels in adjacent slope and bathyal trough sediments, indicating low deposition rates of phytodetritus on the shelf proper. Macroinfaunal densities ( x = 3056;range = 2060-5406 ind. m -2) were moderate to high, but biomass ( x = 1.96;range = 0.94-3.37 g ash-free dry wt m -2) was low and decreased significantly across the shelf. Small, tube-building deposit and suspension-feeding polychaetes and amphipods dominated the infauna with a notable absence of bivalve molluscs. X-radiography revealed sedimentary profiles characteristic of oligotrophic seafloors experiencing low and variable rates of sedimentation and infaunal bioturbation, but subjected to episodes of physical reworking. The sediment fabric was extensively bioturbated mainly in

  5. Dual-Carbon sources fuel the OCS deep-reef Community, a stable isotope investigation

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Sulak, Kenneth J.; Berg, J.; Randall, Michael; Dennis, George D., III; Brooks, R.A.

    2008-01-01

    The hypothesis that phytoplankton is the sole carbon source for the OCS deep-reef community (>60 m) was tested. Trophic structure for NE Gulf of Mexico deep reefs was analyzed via carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes. Carbon signatures for 114 entities (carbon sources, sediment, fishes, and invertebrates) supported surface phytoplankton as the primary fuel for the deep reef. However, a second carbon source, the macroalga Sargassum, with its epiphytic macroalgal associate, Cladophora liniformis, was also identified. Macroalgal carbon signatures were detected among 23 consumer entities. Most notably, macroalgae contributed 45 % of total carbon to the 13C isotopic spectrum of the particulate-feeding reef-crest gorgonian Nicella. The discontinuous spatial distribution of some sessile deep-reef invertebrates utilizing pelagic macroalgal carbon may be trophically tied to the contagious distribution of Sargassum biomass along major ocean surface features.

  6. Benthic Community Responses during Different Construction Stage of Large Coastal Development (Saemangeum, Republic of Korea)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Park, S.; An, S.

    2014-12-01

    The Saemangeum reclamation project in South Korea represents one of the largest construction efforts in coastal environments and provides a valuable opportunity to evaluate the benthic community responses in the large scale human disturbances. The changes of benthic ecosystems were monitored in the course of construction stage. Depending on the construction stage (Partial Closure (PC) stage: May 2004 ~Jan. 2006, Complete Closure (CC) stage: May 2006~Nov. 2006), Stable (S) stage: May 2007 ~ Aug. 2008), subtidal benthic ecosystems around Saemangeum were affected differently. In particular, the dramatic change of benthic community was observed in DI (Direct influence) area located inside the barrage. The benthic community change was temporal and minimum in the IDI (In-direct Influence) area located outside the barrage. During PC stage, the species number and density tended to increase in DI, but they rapidly decreased during CC stage. They increased again during S stage in DI but the most of the species were composed of opportunistic species indicating a deteriorated environment. In IDI, the species number and density also increased during PC stage and decreased during CC stage, but unlike DI, the increase of species number and density in S stage was not observed. In DI area, the benthic community structure had changed due to hypoxia, desalination and landization after CC stage, and the opportunistic species like Theora fragilis, Tharyx sp., Heteromastus filiformis had dominated after S-stage. In IDI area, however, abrupt environmental changes had not appeared and species number and density had been constant and species composition did not change even after the CC stage.

  7. Influence of halophytes and metal contamination on salt marsh macro-benthic communities

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vinagre, C.; Cabral, H. N.; Caçador, I.

    2008-03-01

    Since an important fraction of the organic matter produced by salt marshes is decomposed in situ, macro-benthic communities are particularly exposed to the trace metals retained by these systems. Yet, few studies have investigated the macro-benthic communities using the between-root sediment habitat of the salt marsh halophytes (salt-tolerant plants), or the effect of trace metal pollution on its population dynamics. In the present study, samples were collected in vegetated and unvegetated sediment, in three salt marshes in the Tagus estuary, for trace metal concentration determination in the sediment and in the halophytes roots, grain size determination and macro-benthic organism identification. Data analysis revealed that the distribution of macro-benthic organisms is mainly determined by metal contamination, metal type and by the presence/absence of halophytes, not by the halophyte species. Five different associations were identified: resistant organisms were associated with the highest concentrations of lead (sediment); tolerant organisms with zinc, copper (sediment and roots) and lead (roots); cadmium in the sediment with a lack of macro-benthic life; sensitive organisms with low levels of metals except for cadmium in the roots; and macro-benthos typical of intertidal mudflats with unvegetated areas with low metal contamination.

  8. Bacterial communities associated with three Brazilian endemic reef corals (Mussismilia spp.) in a coastal reef of the Abrolhos shelf

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    de Castro, Alinne Pereira; Araújo, Samuel Dias; Reis, Alessandra M. M.; Pompeu, Maira; Hatay, Mark; de Moura, Rodrigo Leão; Francini-Filho, Ronaldo B.; Thompson, Fabiano L.; Krüger, Ricardo H.

    2013-11-01

    The diversity of bacterial communities associated with three Brazilian endemic reef corals from genus Mussismilia (M. hispida, M. braziliensis, and M. harttii) at a single site was assessed using 16S rRNA clone libraries. The study site, Pedra do Leste, is a coastal reef within the largest and richest South Atlantic coralline reef complex (Abrolhos Bank) and is subject to high fishing pressure, high sedimentation loads, and other land-based stressors. The three coral species are Neogene relicts with unique biological and morphological traits that enable them to survive relatively high sedimentation levels. Our results show that sequences affiliated with γ-Proteobacteria predominated, accounting for more than 60% of the examined sequences. Indeed, the most frequent species were related to Alteromonas, Marinomonas, Neptuniibacter, and Vibrio, which are copiotrophic microorganisms common in environments highly affected by anthropogenic stress. Principal component analysis revealed that bacterial communities of M. braziliensis and M. hispida were more similar to each other than to M. harttii-associated bacteria. Such pattern is likely related to distinct morphological properties of M. harttii, such as the existence of phaceloid colonies, in which polyps are not connected by soft tissue. This is the first investigation assessing the bacterial communities of the three Brazilian endemic Mussismilia species at the same location.

  9. Eutrophication and Hypoxia Degrade Ecosystem Functions and Services of Narragansett Bay Benthic Communities

    EPA Science Inventory

    Excessive input of nitrogen to estuaries and coastal waters leads to eutrophication; the resulting organic matter over-enrichment of the sediments and seasonal hypoxia of the bottom water have well-known deleterious effects on benthic community biodiversity, abundance, and biomas...

  10. Relationships between stripmining-induced changes and benthic insect communities in the southern Appalachian Region

    SciTech Connect

    Tolbert, V.R.

    1980-01-01

    Increased demands for coal to supply America's energy needs, as well as the controversy surrounding the requirements and enforcement of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, point directly to the need for determination of specific factors associated with stripmining alteration that produce major environmental impacts. Numerous studies have demonstrated physical and chemical alterations to southern Appalachian streams subject to stripmining effluents found that the two major factors resulting in physical alterations were increased runoff and resultant sedimentation. Studies in streams receiving acid mine drainage showed that benthic insect communities differed in undisturbed and stripmining disturbed streams. Branson and Batch noted differences in benthic communities in Kentucky streams disturbed by non-acid stripmining. Tolbert found significant differences in benthic communities between undisturbed and nonacid mining streams. This paper describes research to determine what stripmining-altered parameters are responsible for differences in benthic insect communities. The results of this study can be applied toward validation of control measures required by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.

  11. Effects of heavy metals on benthic macroinvertebrate communities in New Zealand streams

    SciTech Connect

    Hickey, C.W.; Clements, W.H.

    1998-11-01

    The authors performed chemical analyses of heavy metals in water and periphyton, toxicity tests with Daphnia magna and an indigenous mayfly (Deleatidium sp.), and field surveys of benthic macroinvertebrates to estimate the degree of metal pollution in three catchments in the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand. Good agreement was found between toxicity tests and measures of benthic community structure, particularly at stations with the highest metal levels. Responses of benthic communities at stations with low or moderate levels of metal contamination were variable and were probably confounded by factors other than heavy metals. Effects of heavy metals on benthic communities in New Zealand streams were similar to those reported for metal-polluted streams in North America and Europe, suggesting that responses to metal contamination are predictable. Abundance and species richness of mayflies, number of taxa in the orders Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera, and total taxonomic richness were the best indicators of heavy metals in New Zealand streams. In contrast, the quantitative macroinvertebrate community index (QMCI), a biotic index proposed for assessing effects of organic enrichment in New Zealand streams, could not distinguish between reference and metal-polluted streams. The poor performance of the QMCI was primarily due to incorrect tolerance scores for some taxa to heavy metals. Because of concerns regarding the subjective assignment of tolerance values to species, the authors recommend that tolerance values for dominant species in New Zealand streams should be verified experimentally in stream microcosms.

  12. FIELD VALIDATION OF MULTI-SPECIES LABORATORY TEST SYSTEMS FOR ESTUARINE BENTHIC COMMUNITIES

    EPA Science Inventory

    The major objective of the project was to determine the validity of using multispecies laboratory systems to evaluate the response of estuarine benthic communities to an introduced stress. In a 5-year period, experiments in Apalachicola Bay, Florida, and the York River, Virginia,...

  13. Benthic community of the Savannah River below a peaking hydropower station

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Hudson, Patrick L.; Nichols, S. Jerrine

    1986-01-01

    The Savannah River below Hartwell Dam, on the South Carolina-Georgia border, contains at least 206 benthic invertebrate taxa, even though this tailwater undergoes substantial daily fluctuations in water flow, temperature, and dissolved oxygen. Oligochaetes, chironomids, and amphipods dominate the community immediately below the dam. Farther downstream, larger organisms (i.e., Ephemeroptera, Trichoptera, etc.) dominate the benthic community. The high diversity of this system is primarily attributed to the intensive effort we expended to identify invertebrates to species level. We conclude that tailwaters associated with peaking hydropower stations may in fact have the diverse community assemblages found in natural streams and that this has not been recognized by other investigators because the bulk of the fauna is made up of small forms that are easily overlooked. Comparisons of tailwater fauna communities with those in control areas should be limited to rivers of similar size.

  14. Assessment of sediment contaminants, toxicity, and benthic community structure in Massachusetts bass

    SciTech Connect

    Hyland, J.

    1994-12-31

    Sediments samples were collected during July 1993 at 12 stations in Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays along the Massachusetts coastline. The stations consisted of foursites from shallow subtidal depths in each of three harbor systems: Wellfleet Harbor, Boston Harbor, and Salem/Beverly Harbors. Synoptic measurements were made of pollutant concentrations, sediment/porewater toxicity, and benthic community structure as a basis for examining potential linkages between sediment contamination and adverse impacts on living benthic resources of the Massachusetts Bay/Cape Cod Bay nearshore ecosystem. Results from this application of the Sediment Quality Triad approach will be presented.

  15. Feasibility of combining two aquatic benthic macroinvertebrate community databases for water-quality assessment

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lenz, Bernard N.

    1997-01-01

    An important part of the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program is the analysis of existing data in each of the NAWQA study areas. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has an extensive aquatic benthic macroinvertebrate communities in streams (benthic invertebrates) database maintained by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. This database has data which date back to 1984 and includes data from streams within the Western Lake Michigan Drainages (WMIC) study area (fig. 1). This report looks at the feasibility of USGS scientists supplementing the data they collect with data from the WDNR database when assessing water quality in the study area.

  16. Community convergence and recruitment of keystone species as performance indicators of artificial reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fariñas-Franco, Jose M.; Allcock, Louise; Smyth, David; Roberts, Dai

    2013-04-01

    An experimental artificial reef was constructed in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland as part of trials to regenerate damaged biogenic reefs formed by the horse mussel Modiolus modiolus. Experimental reef plots were constructed using Pecten maximus shell as cultch. Clumps of live adult M. modiolus were translocated from nearby natural reefs into cultch with a high profile (elevated cultch), cultch with a low profile (flattened cultch), as well as directly into the seafloor. The aim of the study was to test the hypothesis that translocated mussel clumps would increase habitat complexity thus accelerating community succession and enhancing natural recruitment of M. modiolus spat. These effects were predicted to be greater on elevated cultch due to greater protection from predators and increased accessibility to food resources. Within the artificial reef array the translocated clumps had a significant positive effect on recruitment compared to cultch without mussels with average densities of spat settled on the translocated M. modiolus clumps ranging from 100 to 200 individuals m- 2 compared to 4 to 52 spat m- 2 on cultch without mussels. Recruitment of M. modiolus spat was also significantly higher on translocated horse mussels when compared to natural reefs where densities of 8-36 spat m- 2 were recorded. Reef elevation appeared to provide some degree of protection from predators but differences in translocated M. modiolus survival on the different elevation treatments were not significant. In total, 223 taxa were recorded 12 months after reef construction. The presence of translocated clumps of M. modiolus was the main driver of the increases in faunal diversity and species abundance. Application of objective criteria to assess the performance of artificial reefs suggested that translocation of M. modiolus clumps alone achieved most of the restoration objectives. Consequently this pilot study demonstrates a straightforward and realistic intervention technique that

  17. Modelling impacts and recovery in benthic communities exposed to localised high CO2.

    PubMed

    Lessin, Gennadi; Artioli, Yuri; Queirós, Ana M; Widdicombe, Stephen; Blackford, Jerry C

    2016-08-15

    Regulations pertaining to carbon dioxide capture with offshore storage (CCS) require an understanding of the potential localised environmental impacts and demonstrably suitable monitoring practices. This study uses a marine ecosystem model to examine a comprehensive range of hypothetical CO2 leakage scenarios, quantifying both impact and recovery time within the benthic system. Whilst significant mortalities and long recovery times were projected for the larger and longer term scenarios, shorter-term or low level exposures lead to reduced projected impacts. This suggests that efficient monitoring and leak mitigation strategies, coupled with appropriate selection of storage sites can effectively limit concerns regarding localised environmental impacts from CCS. The feedbacks and interactions between physiological and ecological responses simulated reveal that benthic responses to CO2 leakage could be complex. This type of modelling investigation can aid the understanding of impact potential, the role of benthic community recovery and inform the design of baseline and monitoring surveys. PMID:27289279

  18. Sub-rubble communities of Curaçao and Bonaire coral reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Meesters, E.; Knijn, R.; Willemsen, P.; Pennartz, R.; Roebers, G.; van Soest, R. W. M.

    1991-12-01

    The distribution and abundance of sessile organisms under coral rubble has been studied at Bonaire and Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles. Species richness under rubble is extremely high with at least 367 species of which sponges, tunicates and bryozoans are the most important. Shallow sub-rubble communities can be considered refuges as the majority of these species are crypt-obligate. Sub-rubble communities may also have a preserve function for sponges, but do not harbour enough corals to ensure a quick coral recolonization of the reef surface after a major disaster. Cryptic community composition is affected by depth and pollution, and differs substantially between the two neighbouring islands, possibly as a result of different bottom characteristics. Biomass of the sub-rubble communities may contribute considerably to total reef biomass. Diversity varies inversely with increased depth and increased rubble size, possibly indicating abiotic control (e.g. physical disturbance by wave action and reef slope substrate collapse).

  19. Water flow modulates the response of coral reef communities to ocean acidification

    PubMed Central

    Comeau, S.; Edmunds, P. J.; Lantz, C. A.; Carpenter, R. C.

    2014-01-01

    By the end of the century coral reefs likely will be affected negatively by ocean acidification (OA), but both the effects of OA on coral communities and the crossed effects of OA with other physical environmental variables are lacking. One of the least considered physical parameters is water flow, which is surprising considering its strong role in modulating the physiology of reef organisms and communities. In the present study, the effects of flow were tested on coral reef communities maintained in outdoor flumes under ambient pCO2 and high pCO2 (1300 μatm). Net calcification of coral communities, including sediments, was affected by both flow and pCO2 with calcification correlated positively with flow under both pCO2 treatments. The effect of flow was less evident for sediments where dissolution exceeded precipitation of calcium carbonate under all flow speeds at high pCO2. For corals and calcifying algae there was a strong flow effect, particularly at high pCO2 where positive net calcification was maintained at night in the high flow treatment. Our results demonstrate the importance of water flow in modulating the coral reef community response to OA and highlight the need to consider this parameter when assessing the effects of OA on coral reefs. PMID:25327767

  20. Water flow modulates the response of coral reef communities to ocean acidification.

    PubMed

    Comeau, S; Edmunds, P J; Lantz, C A; Carpenter, R C

    2014-01-01

    By the end of the century coral reefs likely will be affected negatively by ocean acidification (OA), but both the effects of OA on coral communities and the crossed effects of OA with other physical environmental variables are lacking. One of the least considered physical parameters is water flow, which is surprising considering its strong role in modulating the physiology of reef organisms and communities. In the present study, the effects of flow were tested on coral reef communities maintained in outdoor flumes under ambient pCO2 and high pCO2 (1300 μatm). Net calcification of coral communities, including sediments, was affected by both flow and pCO2 with calcification correlated positively with flow under both pCO2 treatments. The effect of flow was less evident for sediments where dissolution exceeded precipitation of calcium carbonate under all flow speeds at high pCO2. For corals and calcifying algae there was a strong flow effect, particularly at high pCO2 where positive net calcification was maintained at night in the high flow treatment. Our results demonstrate the importance of water flow in modulating the coral reef community response to OA and highlight the need to consider this parameter when assessing the effects of OA on coral reefs. PMID:25327767

  1. Scaling metabolism from individuals to reef-fish communities at broad spatial scales.

    PubMed

    Barneche, D R; Kulbicki, M; Floeter, S R; Friedlander, A M; Maina, J; Allen, A P

    2014-09-01

    Fishes contribute substantially to energy and nutrient fluxes in reef ecosystems, but quantifying these roles is challenging. Here, we do so by synthesising a large compilation of fish metabolic-rate data with a comprehensive database on reef-fish community abundance and biomass. Individual-level analyses support predictions of Metabolic Theory after accounting for significant family-level variation, and indicate that some tropical reef fishes may already be experiencing thermal regimes at or near their temperature optima. Community-level analyses indicate that total estimated respiratory fluxes of reef-fish communities increase on average ~2-fold from 22 to 28 °C. Comparisons of estimated fluxes among trophic groups highlight striking differences in resource use by communities in different regions, perhaps partly reflecting distinct evolutionary histories, and support the hypothesis that piscivores receive substantial energy subsidies from outside reefs. Our study demonstrates one approach to synthesising individual- and community-level data to establish broad-scale trends in contributions of biota to ecosystem dynamics. PMID:24943721

  2. Grazing pressure of herbivorous coral reef fishes on low coral-cover reefs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Paddack, Michelle J.; Cowen, Robert K.; Sponaugle, Su

    2006-08-01

    The impact of grazing by herbivorous fishes (Acanthuridae, Scaridae, and Pomacentridae) on low coral-cover reefs was assessed by measuring rates of benthic algal production and consumption on inshore and offshore reefs in the upper Florida Keys. Algal production rates, determined in situ with caged and uncaged experimental plates, were low (mean 1.05gCm-2 day-1) and similar among reef types. Algal consumption rates were estimated using two different models, a detailed model incorporating fish bite rates and algal yield-per-bite for one species extrapolated to a guild-wide value, and a general regression relating fish biomass to algal consumption. Algal consumption differed among reef types: a majority of algal production was consumed on offshore reefs (55-100%), whereas consumption on inshore patch reefs was 31-51%. Spatial variation in algal consumption was driven by differences in herbivorous fish species composition, density, and size-structure among reef types. Algal consumption rates also varied temporally due to seasonal declines in bite rates and intermittent presence of large-bodied, vagile, schooling species. Spatial coherence of benthic community structure and temporal stability of algal turf over 3 years suggests that grazing intensity is currently sufficient to limit further spread of macroalgal cover on these low coral-cover reefs, but not to exclude it from the system.

  3. Benthic microbial communities of coastal terrestrial and ice shelf Antarctic meltwater ponds

    PubMed Central

    Archer, Stephen D. J.; McDonald, Ian R.; Herbold, Craig W.; Lee, Charles K.; Cary, Craig S.

    2015-01-01

    The numerous perennial meltwater ponds distributed throughout Antarctica represent diverse and productive ecosystems central to the ecological functioning of the surrounding ultra oligotrophic environment. The dominant taxa in the pond benthic communities have been well described however, little is known regarding their regional dispersal and local drivers to community structure. The benthic microbial communities of 12 meltwater ponds in the McMurdo Sound of Antarctica were investigated to examine variation between pond microbial communities and their biogeography. Geochemically comparable but geomorphologically distinct ponds were selected from Bratina Island (ice shelf) and Miers Valley (terrestrial) (<40 km between study sites), and community structure within ponds was compared using DNA fingerprinting and pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons. More than 85% of total sequence reads were shared between pooled benthic communities at different locations (OTU0.05), which in combination with favorable prevailing winds suggests aeolian regional distribution. Consistent with previous findings Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes were the dominant phyla representing over 50% of total sequences; however, a large number of other phyla (21) were also detected in this ecosystem. Although dominant Bacteria were ubiquitous between ponds, site and local selection resulted in heterogeneous community structures and with more than 45% of diversity being pond specific. Potassium was identified as the most significant contributing factor to the cosmopolitan community structure and aluminum to the location unique community based on a BEST analysis (Spearman's correlation coefficient of 0.632 and 0.806, respectively). These results indicate that the microbial communities in meltwater ponds are easily dispersed regionally and that the local geochemical environment drives the ponds community structure. PMID:26074890

  4. Benthic microbial communities of coastal terrestrial and ice shelf Antarctic meltwater ponds.

    PubMed

    Archer, Stephen D J; McDonald, Ian R; Herbold, Craig W; Lee, Charles K; Cary, Craig S

    2015-01-01

    The numerous perennial meltwater ponds distributed throughout Antarctica represent diverse and productive ecosystems central to the ecological functioning of the surrounding ultra oligotrophic environment. The dominant taxa in the pond benthic communities have been well described however, little is known regarding their regional dispersal and local drivers to community structure. The benthic microbial communities of 12 meltwater ponds in the McMurdo Sound of Antarctica were investigated to examine variation between pond microbial communities and their biogeography. Geochemically comparable but geomorphologically distinct ponds were selected from Bratina Island (ice shelf) and Miers Valley (terrestrial) (<40 km between study sites), and community structure within ponds was compared using DNA fingerprinting and pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons. More than 85% of total sequence reads were shared between pooled benthic communities at different locations (OTU0.05), which in combination with favorable prevailing winds suggests aeolian regional distribution. Consistent with previous findings Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes were the dominant phyla representing over 50% of total sequences; however, a large number of other phyla (21) were also detected in this ecosystem. Although dominant Bacteria were ubiquitous between ponds, site and local selection resulted in heterogeneous community structures and with more than 45% of diversity being pond specific. Potassium was identified as the most significant contributing factor to the cosmopolitan community structure and aluminum to the location unique community based on a BEST analysis (Spearman's correlation coefficient of 0.632 and 0.806, respectively). These results indicate that the microbial communities in meltwater ponds are easily dispersed regionally and that the local geochemical environment drives the ponds community structure. PMID:26074890

  5. Persistence and change in community composition of reef corals through present, past, and future climates.

    PubMed

    Edmunds, Peter J; Adjeroud, Mehdi; Baskett, Marissa L; Baums, Iliana B; Budd, Ann F; Carpenter, Robert C; Fabina, Nicholas S; Fan, Tung-Yung; Franklin, Erik C; Gross, Kevin; Han, Xueying; Jacobson, Lianne; Klaus, James S; McClanahan, Tim R; O'Leary, Jennifer K; van Oppen, Madeleine J H; Pochon, Xavier; Putnam, Hollie M; Smith, Tyler B; Stat, Michael; Sweatman, Hugh; van Woesik, Robert; Gates, Ruth D

    2014-01-01

    The reduction in coral cover on many contemporary tropical reefs suggests a different set of coral community assemblages will dominate future reefs. To evaluate the capacity of reef corals to persist over various time scales, we examined coral community dynamics in contemporary, fossil, and simulated future coral reef ecosystems. Based on studies between 1987 and 2012 at two locations in the Caribbean, and between 1981 and 2013 at five locations in the Indo-Pacific, we show that many coral genera declined in abundance, some showed no change in abundance, and a few coral genera increased in abundance. Whether the abundance of a genus declined, increased, or was conserved, was independent of coral family. An analysis of fossil-reef communities in the Caribbean revealed changes in numerical dominance and relative abundances of coral genera, and demonstrated that neither dominance nor taxon was associated with persistence. As coral family was a poor predictor of performance on contemporary reefs, a trait-based, dynamic, multi-patch model was developed to explore the phenotypic basis of ecological performance in a warmer future. Sensitivity analyses revealed that upon exposure to thermal stress, thermal tolerance, growth rate, and longevity were the most important predictors of coral persistence. Together, our results underscore the high variation in the rates and direction of change in coral abundances on contemporary and fossil reefs. Given this variation, it remains possible that coral reefs will be populated by a subset of the present coral fauna in a future that is warmer than the recent past. PMID:25272143

  6. Persistence and Change in Community Composition of Reef Corals through Present, Past, and Future Climates

    PubMed Central

    Edmunds, Peter J.; Adjeroud, Mehdi; Baskett, Marissa L.; Baums, Iliana B.; Budd, Ann F.; Carpenter, Robert C.; Fabina, Nicholas S.; Fan, Tung-Yung; Franklin, Erik C.; Gross, Kevin; Han, Xueying; Jacobson, Lianne; Klaus, James S.; McClanahan, Tim R.; O'Leary, Jennifer K.; van Oppen, Madeleine J. H.; Pochon, Xavier; Putnam, Hollie M.; Smith, Tyler B.; Stat, Michael; Sweatman, Hugh; van Woesik, Robert; Gates, Ruth D.

    2014-01-01

    The reduction in coral cover on many contemporary tropical reefs suggests a different set of coral community assemblages will dominate future reefs. To evaluate the capacity of reef corals to persist over various time scales, we examined coral community dynamics in contemporary, fossil, and simulated future coral reef ecosystems. Based on studies between 1987 and 2012 at two locations in the Caribbean, and between 1981 and 2013 at five locations in the Indo-Pacific, we show that many coral genera declined in abundance, some showed no change in abundance, and a few coral genera increased in abundance. Whether the abundance of a genus declined, increased, or was conserved, was independent of coral family. An analysis of fossil-reef communities in the Caribbean revealed changes in numerical dominance and relative abundances of coral genera, and demonstrated that neither dominance nor taxon was associated with persistence. As coral family was a poor predictor of performance on contemporary reefs, a trait-based, dynamic, multi-patch model was developed to explore the phenotypic basis of ecological performance in a warmer future. Sensitivity analyses revealed that upon exposure to thermal stress, thermal tolerance, growth rate, and longevity were the most important predictors of coral persistence. Together, our results underscore the high variation in the rates and direction of change in coral abundances on contemporary and fossil reefs. Given this variation, it remains possible that coral reefs will be populated by a subset of the present coral fauna in a future that is warmer than the recent past. PMID:25272143

  7. The nearshore benthic community of Kasatochi Island, one year after the 2008 volcanic eruption

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Jewett, S.C.; Bodkin, J.L.; Chenelot, H.; Esslinger, G.G.; Hoberg, M.K.

    2010-01-01

    A description is presented of the nearshore benthic community of Kasatochi Island 1012 months after a catastrophic volcanic eruption in 2008. The eruption extended the coastline of the island approximately 400 m offshore, mainly along the south, southeast, and southwest shores, to roughly the 20 m isobath. Existing canopy kelp of Eualaria (Alaria) fistulosa, as well as limited understory algal species and associated fauna (e.g., urchin barrens) on the hard substratum were apparently buried following the eruption. Samples and observations revealed the substrate around the island in 2009 was comprised almost entirely of medium and coarse sands with a depauperate benthic community, dominated by opportunistic pontogeneiid amphipods. Comparisons of habitat and biological communities with other nearby Aleutian Islands, as well as with the Icelandic volcanic island of Surtsey, confirm dramatic reductions in flora and fauna consistent with an early stage of recovery from a large-scale disturbance event. ?? 2010 Regents of the University of Colorado.

  8. Multiwalled carbon nanotubes at environmentally relevant concentrations affect the composition of benthic communities.

    PubMed

    Velzeboer, I; Peeters, E T H M; Koelmans, A A

    2013-07-01

    To date, chronic effect studies with manufactured nanomaterials under field conditions are scarce. Here, we report in situ effects of 0, 0.002, 0.02, 0.2, and 2 g/kg multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) in sediment on the benthic community composition after 15 months of exposure. Effects observed after 15 months were compared to those observed after 3 months and to community effects of another carbonaceous material (activated carbon; AC), which was simultaneously tested in a parallel study. Redundancy analysis with variance partitioning revealed a total explained variance of 51.7% of the variation in community composition after 15 months, of which MWCNT dose explained a statistically significant 9.9%. By stepwise excluding the highest MWCNT concentrations in the statistical analyses, MWCNT effects were shown to be statistically significant already at the lowest dose investigated, which can be considered environmentally relevant. We conclude that despite prolonged aging, encapsulation, and burial, MWCNTs can affect the structure of natural benthic communities in the field. This effect was similar to that of AC observed in a parallel experiment, which however was applied at a 50 times higher maximum dose. This suggests that the benthic community was more sensitive to MWCNTs than to the bulk carbon material AC. PMID:23713543

  9. Ecological Effects of Biochar on the Structure and Function of Stream Benthic Communities.

    PubMed

    Clements, William H; Stahl, Ralph G; Landis, Richard C

    2015-12-15

    The introduction of biochar, activated carbon, and other carbonaceous materials to aquatic ecosystems significantly reduces the toxicity and bioavailability of contaminants. However, previous studies have shown that these materials can have negative effects on aquatic organisms. We conducted field and mesocosm experiments to test the hypothesis that biochar altered the structure and function of stream benthic communities. After 30 d in the field, colonization by stoneflies (Plecoptera) was significantly lower in trays containing biochar compared to the results from the controls. In stream mesocosms, biochar increased macroinvertebrate drift and significantly reduced community metabolism. However, most measures of community composition showed little variation among biochar treatments, and significant responses were limited to a single stonefly species (Capnia confusa). When benthic communities were simultaneously exposed to biochar and Cu, effects were primarily associated with metal exposure. Because it is unlikely that biochar treatments would be employed in uncontaminated areas, these moderately negative effects should be considered within the context of the positive benefits associated with reduced contaminant bioavailability and toxicity. Additional research is necessary to improve our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for biochar effects on benthic communities and to identify the optimal application rates and size fractions that will maximize contaminant sorption but minimize potential negative effects. PMID:26560098

  10. Late Weichselian deglaciation and early Holocene development of a cold-water coral reef along the Lopphavet shelf (Northern Norway) recorded by benthic foraminifera and ostracoda

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stalder, Claudio; Spezzaferri, Silvia; Rüggeberg, Andres; Pirkenseer, Claudius; Gennari, Giordana

    2014-01-01

    Cold-water coral (CWC) settlement in northern Norway is strongly related to the outlet-glaciers of the Fennoscandian Ice-sheet, and dating of known CWC structures show clearly post-glacial ages. Two gravity cores (POS391 559/2,277 cm long and POS391 559/3,282 cm long) were recovered on a CWC reef in the area of Lopphavet, northern Norway. Detailed investigations on lithology (sediment structures and composition), micropaleontology (foraminifera and ostracoda) and AMS 14C dating on the epibenthic foraminifera Discanomalina coronata were performed on the two cores. Phosphorus analyses were performed only on core POS391 559/3. Results indicate that the whole core POS391 559/2 is representative of a CWC reef environment. The base of the core is dated at 10,600±120 cal. yr BP, thus representing one of the oldest ages of a Norwegian coral reef. Core POS391 559/3 documents the passage from a proximal glacier environment characterized by fine silty sediments with intercalation of several dropstone layers to a CWC ecosystem. The transition from the glacial to the interglacial stage is dated as old as 10,725±205 cal. yr BP, whereas the base of the core is dated to an age of 15,300±550 cal. yr BP. Diversity of benthic foraminifera is higher within the CWC, especially in the intervals containing coral framework. Five clusters are identified based on the Bray-Curtis Similarity Term Analyses and the interpretation of data shows that they are related to different ecological settings, e.g., fluctuations of the sea-ice cover; influence of the warmer and more saline Atlantic water masses; transitional to a fully interglacial environment; well oxygenated, nutrient-rich and high current setting being conducive to CWC. Ostracod assemblages show that these crustaceans may be also used to characterize sedimentary facies on CWC reefs.

  11. Mangroves enhance the biomass of coral reef fish communities in the Caribbean.

    PubMed

    Mumby, Peter J; Edwards, Alasdair J; Arias-González, J Ernesto; Lindeman, Kenyon C; Blackwell, Paul G; Gall, Angela; Gorczynska, Malgosia I; Harborne, Alastair R; Pescod, Claire L; Renken, Henk; Wabnitz, Colette C C; Llewellyn, Ghislane

    2004-02-01

    Mangrove forests are one of the world's most threatened tropical ecosystems with global loss exceeding 35% (ref. 1). Juvenile coral reef fish often inhabit mangroves, but the importance of these nurseries to reef fish population dynamics has not been quantified. Indeed, mangroves might be expected to have negligible influence on reef fish communities: juvenile fish can inhabit alternative habitats and fish populations may be regulated by other limiting factors such as larval supply or fishing. Here we show that mangroves are unexpectedly important, serving as an intermediate nursery habitat that may increase the survivorship of young fish. Mangroves in the Caribbean strongly influence the community structure of fish on neighbouring coral reefs. In addition, the biomass of several commercially important species is more than doubled when adult habitat is connected to mangroves. The largest herbivorous fish in the Atlantic, Scarus guacamaia, has a functional dependency on mangroves and has suffered local extinction after mangrove removal. Current rates of mangrove deforestation are likely to have severe deleterious consequences for the ecosystem function, fisheries productivity and resilience of reefs. Conservation efforts should protect connected corridors of mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs. PMID:14765193

  12. Community metabolism in shallow coral reef and seagrass ecosystems, lower Florida Keys

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Turk, Daniela; Yates, Kimberly K.; Vega-Rodriguez, Maria; Toro-Farmer, Gerardo; L'Esperance, Chris; Melo, Nelson; Ramsewak, Deanesch; Estrada, S. Cerdeira; Muller-Karger, Frank E.; Herwitz, Stan R.; McGillis, Wade

    2016-01-01

    Diurnal variation of net community production (NEP) and net community calcification (NEC) were measured in coral reef and seagrass biomes during October 2012 in the lower Florida Keys using a mesocosm enclosure and the oxygen gradient flux technique. Seagrass and coral reef sites showed diurnal variations of NEP and NEC, with positive values at near-seafloor light levels >100–300 µEinstein m-2 s-1. During daylight hours, we detected an average NEP of 12.3 and 8.6 mmol O2 m-2 h-1 at the seagrass and coral reef site, respectively. At night, NEP at the seagrass site was relatively constant, while on the coral reef, net respiration was highest immediately after dusk and decreased during the rest of the night. At the seagrass site, NEC values ranged from 0.20 g CaCO3 m-2 h-1 during daylight to -0.15 g CaCO3 m-2 h-1 at night, and from 0.17 to -0.10 g CaCO3 m-2 h-1 at the coral reef site. There were no significant differences in pH and aragonite saturation states (Ωar) between the seagrass and coral reef sites. Decrease in light levels during thunderstorms significantly decreased NEP, transforming the system from net autotrophic to net heterotrophic.

  13. Early-mid-Cretaceous evolution in Tethyan reef communities and sea level

    SciTech Connect

    Scott, R.W.

    1988-01-01

    The replacement of corals by rudists in Early Cretaceous reefal communities spanned a 30-m.y. period when sea level rose and drowned continental shelves. During this time corals formed communities in the deeper parts of reefs and rudists occupied the shallow, high-energy habitats. By Aptian time rudists dominated reefs that fringed interior shelf basins and corals formed reefs with rudists on the outer shelf margins. By late Albian coral communities had virtually disappeared, presumably because of complex environmental changes and cycles of organic productivity. Two important events of eustatic sea level rise are represented by unconformities separating carbonate depositional sequences on the Arabian platform that correlate with sequence boundaries on the Gulf Coast platform. Graphic correlation techniques test the synchroneity of these events. A composite standard time scale dates these sea level rises at 115.8 Ma and 94.6 Ma; a third, intra-Albian event at 104.3 Ma is present in many places and may also be eustatic. Associated with these sea level rises were apparent changes in ocean water chemistry as evidenced by changes in isotopes and trace elements, where diagenetic effects can be discounted. During this time the climate became more humid and atmospheric CO/sub 2/ increased. The concomitant environmental changes in the oceanic conditions presumably stressed the deeper coral communities on reefs. The emergence of rudists as reef contributors had a profound effect on Late Cretaceous depositional conditions and the development of hydrocarbon reservoirs.

  14. Early-mid-Cretaceous evolution in Tethyan reef communities and sea level

    SciTech Connect

    Scott, R.W.

    1988-02-01

    The replacement of corals by rudists in Early Cretaceous reefal communities spanned a 30-m.y. period when sea level rose and drowned continental shelves. During this time corals formed communities in the deeper parts of reefs and rudists occupied the shallow, high-energy habitats. By Aptian time rudists dominated reefs that fringed interior shelf basins and corals formed reefs with rudists on the outer shelf margins. By late Albian coral communities had virtually disappeared, presumably because of complex environmental changes and cycles of organic productivity. Two important events of eustatic sea level rise are represented by unconformities separating carbonate depositional sequences on the Arabian platform that correlate with sequence boundaries on the Gulf Coast platform. Graphic correlation techniques test the synchroneity of these events. A composite standard time scale dates these sea level rises at 115.8 Ma and 94.6 Ma; a third, intra-Albian event at 104.3 Ma is present in many places and may also be eustatic. Associated with these sea level rises were apparent changes in ocean water chemistry as evidenced by changes in isotopes and trace elements, where diagenetic effects can be discounted. During this time the climate became more humid and atmospheric CO/sub 2/ increased. The concomitant environmental changes in the oceanic conditions presumably stressed the deeper coral communities on reefs. The emergence of rudists as reef contributors had a profound effect on Late Cretaceous depositional conditions and the development of hydrocarbon reservoirs.

  15. Community calcification in Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef: A 33 year perspective

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Silverman, J.; Schneider, K.; Kline, D. I.; Rivlin, T.; Rivlin, A.; Hamylton, S.; Lazar, B.; Erez, J.; Caldeira, K.

    2014-11-01

    Measurements of community calcification (Gnet) were made during September 2008 and October 2009 on a reef flat in Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia, 33 years after the first measurements were made there by the LIMER expedition in 1975. In 2008 and 2009 we measured Gnet = 61 ± 12 and 54 ± 13 mmol CaCO3 m-2·day-1, respectively. These rates are 27-49% lower than those measured during the same season in 1975-76. These rates agree well with those estimated from the measured temperature and degree of aragonite saturation using a reef calcification rate equation developed from observations in a Red Sea coral reef. Community structure surveys across the Lizard Island reef flat during our study using the same methods employed in 1978 showed that live coral coverage had not changed significantly (∼8%). However, it should be noted that the uncertainty in the live coral coverage estimates in this study and in 1978 were fairly large and inherent to this methodology. Using the reef calcification rate equation while assuming that seawater above the reef was at equilibrium with atmospheric PCO2 and given that live coral cover had not changed Gnet should have declined by 30 ± 8% since the LIMER study as indeed observed. We note, however, that the error in estimated Gnet decrease relative to the 1970's could be much larger due to the uncertainties in the coral coverage measurements. Nonetheless, the similarity between the predicted and the measured decrease in Gnet suggests that ocean acidification may be the primary cause for the lower CaCO3 precipitation rate on the Lizard Island reef flat.

  16. [Community structure of sponges (Porifera) in three reefs at Morrocoy National Park, Venezuela and its correspondence with some environmental variables].

    PubMed

    Romero, Marco A; Villamizar, Estrella; Malaver, Nora

    2013-09-01

    Sponges have an important ecological role in coral reef ecosystems. However, when compared to other benthic Phyla, it has been little researched. This research was focused in the variability of the community structure of sponges in three locations at Morrocoy National Park (Cayo Sombrero, Playa Mero and Punta Brava) exposed to different environmental conditions (transparency and currents intensity) and affected in different degree of severity by a mass mortality event in 1996. A total of 15 transects (10 m long and 1 m wide) were evaluated in three strata (between 3 and 15 m depth) in each site, where all the individuals were counted by species. Relative abundance by species, diversity and evenness were calculated. Locations showed differences respect turbidity, wave and current intensity. 27 species were found in Morrocoy; Cayo Sombrero (23), Playa Mero (18) and Punta Brava (15). Agelas sceptrum, Amphimedon erina and Niphates erecta were the most common in first location; Niphates erecta and Dysidea etheria in Playa Mero and Dysidea etheria, Niphates erecta and Amphimedon erina in Punta Brava. The species composition showed statistical differences between all three locations; Cayo Sombrero resulted the most diverse and even, followed by Playa Mero and Punta Brava. According to Sorensen Similarity Index results, Cayo Sombrero and Playa Mero were more similar, while Punta Brava resulted the most different. The variability in environmental conditions and the differential mass mortality effects of 1996 in all three reefs, were probably the main causes of the differences between their sponge communities. Nevertheless, we cannot conclude about the weight of these factors. PMID:24027920

  17. Habitat values for artificial oyster ( Crassostrea ariakensis) reefs compared with natural shallow-water habitats in Changjiang River estuary

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Quan, Weimin; Zheng, Lin; Li, Beijun; An, Chuanguang

    2013-09-01

    Oyster reefs have an equivalent, complex 3-dimensional structure to vegetated habitats and may provide similar functions in estuarine environments. Nevertheless, few studies have compared oyster reefs with adjacent natural shallow-water habitats. Here the resident benthic macroinvertebrate communities in an artificial oyster ( Crassostrea ariakensis) reef and in adjacent natural estuarine shallow-water habitats (salt marsh, intertidal mudflat, and subtidal soft bottom) in the Changjiang (Yangtze) River estuary were described. The mean total densities and biomass, Margalef's species richness, Pielou's evenness and Shannon-Weaver biodiversity indices of the resident benthic macroinvertebrate communities differed significantly among the habitats. Significantly higher densities and biomass of benthic macroinvertebrates occurred in the oyster reef compared with the other three habitats. Ordination plots showed a clear separation in benthic macroinvertebrate communities among the four habitat types. The results demonstrated that the artificial oyster reef supported distinct and unique benthic communities, playing an important role in the complex estuarine habitat by supplying prey resources and contributing to biodiversity. In addition, the results suggested that the oyster reef had been restored successfully.

  18. Tropical fishes dominate temperate reef fish communities within western Japan.

    PubMed

    Nakamura, Yohei; Feary, David A; Kanda, Masaru; Yamaoka, Kosaku

    2013-01-01

    Climate change is resulting in rapid poleward shifts in the geographical distribution of tropical and subtropical fish species. We can expect that such range shifts are likely to be limited by species-specific resource requirements, with temperate rocky reefs potentially lacking a range of settlement substrates or specific dietary components important in structuring the settlement and success of tropical and subtropical fish species. We examined the importance of resource use in structuring the distribution patterns of range shifting tropical and subtropical fishes, comparing this with resident temperate fish species within western Japan (Tosa Bay); the abundance, diversity, size class, functional structure and latitudinal range of reef fishes utilizing both coral reef and adjacent rocky reef habitat were quantified over a 2 year period (2008-2010). This region has undergone rapid poleward expansion of reef-building corals in response to increasing coastal water temperatures, and forms one of the global hotspots for rapid coastal changes. Despite the temperate latitude surveyed (33°N, 133°E) the fish assemblage was both numerically, and in terms of richness, dominated by tropical fishes. Such tropical faunal dominance was apparent within both coral, and rocky reef habitats. The size structure of the assemblage suggested that a relatively large number of tropical species are overwintering within both coral and rocky habitats, with a subset of these species being potentially reproductively active. The relatively high abundance and richness of tropical species with obligate associations with live coral resources (i.e., obligate corallivores) shows that this region holds the most well developed temperate-located tropical fish fauna globally. We argue that future tropicalisation of the fish fauna in western Japan, associated with increasing coral habitat development and reported increasing shifts in coastal water temperatures, may have considerable positive economic

  19. Effect of substrate type on bacterial community composition in biofilms from the Great Barrier Reef.

    PubMed

    Witt, Verena; Wild, Christian; Uthicke, Sven

    2011-10-01

    Natural and anthropogenic impacts such as terrestrial runoff, influence the water quality along the coast of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and may in turn affect coral reef communities. Associated bacterial biofilms respond rapidly to environmental conditions and are potential bioindicators for changes in water quality. As a prerequisite to study the effects of water quality on biofilm communities, appropriate biofilm substrates for deployment in the field must be developed and evaluated. This study investigates the effect of different settlement substrates (i.e. glass slides, ceramic tiles, coral skeletons and reef sediments) on bacterial biofilm communities grown in situ for 48 days at two locations in the Whitsunday Island Group (Central GBR) during two sampling times. Bacterial communities associated with the biofilms were analysed using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) and clone library analyses of 16S rRNA genes. Findings revealed that substrate type had little influence on bacterial community composition. Of particular relevance, glass slides and coral skeletons exhibited very similar communities during both sampling times, suggesting the suitability of standardized glass slides for long-term biofilm indicator studies in tropical coral reef ecosystems. PMID:22092719

  20. Significance of microcystin production by benthic communities in water treatment systems of arid zones.

    PubMed

    Hurtado, I; Aboal, M; Zafra, E; Campillo, D

    2008-02-01

    The study of the dynamics of phytobenthic and phytoplankton communities was undertaken, during a year, in the regulation reservoir associated with a water treatment plant (WTP), which provides the city of Murcia (Spain) with drinking water. Water samples were collected in different stages of the treatment. In the reservoir, the presence of dissolved and intracellular microcystins is constant, both in benthos and in plankton. The collected samples show a positive correlation between the dissolved microcystins and the benthic ones in the reservoir itself, as well as in an upstream reservoir (Ojós Reservoir). The treatment process (ozone+clarification+ozone+activated carbon) is very effective in the removal of toxins, and the drinking water produced is totally free of microcystins. The incorporation of the benthic communities in the routine check for the presence of microcystins is recommended, since it is not compulsory according to the current legislation. PMID:17949775

  1. Do Changes in Current Flow as a Result of Arrays of Tidal Turbines Have an Effect on Benthic Communities?

    PubMed

    Kregting, Louise; Elsaesser, Bjoern; Kennedy, Robert; Smyth, David; O'Carroll, Jack; Savidge, Graham

    2016-01-01

    Arrays of tidal energy converters have the potential to provide clean renewable energy for future generations. Benthic communities may, however, be affected by changes in current speeds resulting from arrays of tidal converters located in areas characterised by strong currents. Current speed, together with bottom type and depth, strongly influence benthic community distributions; however the interaction of these factors in controlling benthic dynamics in high energy environments is poorly understood. The Strangford Lough Narrows, the location of SeaGen, the world's first single full-scale, grid-compliant tidal energy extractor, is characterised by spatially heterogenous high current flows. A hydrodynamic model was used to select a range of benthic community study sites that had median flow velocities between 1.5-2.4 m/s in a depth range of 25-30 m. 25 sites were sampled for macrobenthic community structure using drop down video survey to test the sensitivity of the distribution of benthic communities to changes in the flow field. A diverse range of species were recorded which were consistent with those for high current flow environments and corresponding to very tide-swept faunal communities in the EUNIS classification. However, over the velocity range investigated, no changes in benthic communities were observed. This suggested that the high physical disturbance associated with the high current flows in the Strangford Narrows reflected the opportunistic nature of the benthic species present with individuals being continuously and randomly affected by turbulent forces and physical damage. It is concluded that during operation, the removal of energy by marine tidal energy arrays in the far-field is unlikely to have a significant effect on benthic communities in high flow environments. The results are of major significance to developers and regulators in the tidal energy industry when considering the environmental impacts for site licences. PMID:27560657

  2. Do Changes in Current Flow as a Result of Arrays of Tidal Turbines Have an Effect on Benthic Communities?

    PubMed Central

    Kregting, Louise; Elsaesser, Bjoern; Kennedy, Robert; Smyth, David; O’Carroll, Jack; Savidge, Graham

    2016-01-01

    Arrays of tidal energy converters have the potential to provide clean renewable energy for future generations. Benthic communities may, however, be affected by changes in current speeds resulting from arrays of tidal converters located in areas characterised by strong currents. Current speed, together with bottom type and depth, strongly influence benthic community distributions; however the interaction of these factors in controlling benthic dynamics in high energy environments is poorly understood. The Strangford Lough Narrows, the location of SeaGen, the world’s first single full-scale, grid-compliant tidal energy extractor, is characterised by spatially heterogenous high current flows. A hydrodynamic model was used to select a range of benthic community study sites that had median flow velocities between 1.5–2.4 m/s in a depth range of 25–30 m. 25 sites were sampled for macrobenthic community structure using drop down video survey to test the sensitivity of the distribution of benthic communities to changes in the flow field. A diverse range of species were recorded which were consistent with those for high current flow environments and corresponding to very tide-swept faunal communities in the EUNIS classification. However, over the velocity range investigated, no changes in benthic communities were observed. This suggested that the high physical disturbance associated with the high current flows in the Strangford Narrows reflected the opportunistic nature of the benthic species present with individuals being continuously and randomly affected by turbulent forces and physical damage. It is concluded that during operation, the removal of energy by marine tidal energy arrays in the far-field is unlikely to have a significant effect on benthic communities in high flow environments. The results are of major significance to developers and regulators in the tidal energy industry when considering the environmental impacts for site licences. PMID:27560657

  3. Turf algae-mediated coral damage in coastal reefs of Belize, Central America

    PubMed Central

    Jantzen, Carin; Kremb, Stephan Georg

    2014-01-01

    Many coral reefs in the Caribbean experienced substantial changes in their benthic community composition during the last decades. This often resulted in phase shifts from scleractinian coral dominance to that by other benthic invertebrate or algae. However, knowledge about how the related role of coral-algae contacts may negatively affect corals is scarce. Therefore, benthic community composition, abundance of algae grazers, and the abundance and character of coral-algae contacts were assessed in situ at 13 Belizean reef sites distributed along a distance gradient to the Belizean mainland (12–70 km): Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (inshore), Turneffe Atoll (inner and outer midshore), and Lighthouse Reef (offshore). In situ surveys revealed significantly higher benthic cover by scleractinian corals at the remote Lighthouse Reef (26–29%) when compared to the other sites (4–19%). The abundance of herbivorous fish and the sea urchin Diadema antillarum significantly increased towards the offshore reef sites, while the occurrence of direct coral-algae contacts consequently increased significantly with decreasing distance to shore. About 60% of these algae contacts were harmful (exhibiting coral tissue damage, pigmentation change, or overgrowth) for corals (mainly genera Orbicella and Agaricia), particularly when filamentous turf algae were involved. These findings provide support to the hypothesis that (turf) algae-mediated coral damage occurs in Belizean coastal, near-shore coral reefs. PMID:25276504

  4. Turf algae-mediated coral damage in coastal reefs of Belize, Central America.

    PubMed

    Wild, Christian; Jantzen, Carin; Kremb, Stephan Georg

    2014-01-01

    Many coral reefs in the Caribbean experienced substantial changes in their benthic community composition during the last decades. This often resulted in phase shifts from scleractinian coral dominance to that by other benthic invertebrate or algae. However, knowledge about how the related role of coral-algae contacts may negatively affect corals is scarce. Therefore, benthic community composition, abundance of algae grazers, and the abundance and character of coral-algae contacts were assessed in situ at 13 Belizean reef sites distributed along a distance gradient to the Belizean mainland (12-70 km): Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (inshore), Turneffe Atoll (inner and outer midshore), and Lighthouse Reef (offshore). In situ surveys revealed significantly higher benthic cover by scleractinian corals at the remote Lighthouse Reef (26-29%) when compared to the other sites (4-19%). The abundance of herbivorous fish and the sea urchin Diadema antillarum significantly increased towards the offshore reef sites, while the occurrence of direct coral-algae contacts consequently increased significantly with decreasing distance to shore. About 60% of these algae contacts were harmful (exhibiting coral tissue damage, pigmentation change, or overgrowth) for corals (mainly genera Orbicella and Agaricia), particularly when filamentous turf algae were involved. These findings provide support to the hypothesis that (turf) algae-mediated coral damage occurs in Belizean coastal, near-shore coral reefs. PMID:25276504

  5. A matter of scale: damage from Hurricane Hugo (1989) to U.S. Virgin Islands reefs at the colony, community and whole reef level

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Rogers, Caroline S.

    1993-01-01

    Studies at Buck Island Reef National Monument (St. Croix) and Virgin Islands National Park (St. John) by scientists in the U.S. National Park Service Coral Reef Assessment Program re- vealed the effects of Humcane Hugo on individual coral species, community parameters, and overall reef structure. Effects of the storm varied with depth, coral species, location relative to the storm path, character of the pre-storm communities, and ecological history. Live coral cover, initially less than 30% at all sites, dropped by 40 to 73%. Cover by the dominant species Montastrea annularis de- clined about 35% on the St. John reefs. At Buck Island, Acropora palmata cover, already reduced from 85% to 5% by white band disease and storms, fell to 0.8% after Hugo. Some areas on the south side of Buck Island were reduced to rubble pave- ment while other areas escaped serious damage. Data from cores at Buck Island reveal the influence of wave energy and storm frequency on overall reef character. Patchiness and variation in the responses of different species, zones, and entire reefs to the storm suggest that assessment of long-term trends in reef structure and composition requires analysis of changes at permanent study sites distributed over large areas.

  6. How benthic diatoms within natural communities respond to eight common herbicides with different modes of action.

    PubMed

    Wood, Rebecca J; Mitrovic, Simon M; Lim, Richard P; Kefford, Ben J

    2016-07-01

    Herbicides are common pollutants of rivers in agricultural regions. These contaminants include various types of chemicals with different modes of toxic action. Herbicides can have toxic effects on freshwater benthic diatoms, the base of the aquatic food web. We examined the effects of (non-mixture) herbicide exposure to the health of diatoms for eight common herbicides with three different modes of action; the photosystem II (PSII) inhibitors: atrazine, simazine, hexazinone, tebuthiuron and diuron; two auxinic herbicides: MCPA and 2,4-D; and the EPSP synthase inhibitor: glyphosate. Benthic diatoms within riverine communities were exposed to each herbicide in rapid toxicity tests at concentrations of 50, 200 and 500μgL(-1). The most sensitive taxa were Gomphonema spp. and Encyonema gracilis. Navicula cryptotenella was the most tolerant to herbicide exposure. There was no significant effect of the different herbicide modes of action at the community level. Herbicide mode of action did not alter which taxa were most sensitive within the community and sensitivity rankings of the dominant diatom taxa were similar for each of the eight herbicides. The consistency of the results between herbicides suggests that freshwater benthic diatoms may be suitable in situ indicators for detecting the toxicity of herbicides with differing modes of action. PMID:27037885

  7. Successional change in microbial communities of benthic Phormidium-dominated biofilms.

    PubMed

    Brasell, Katie A; Heath, Mark W; Ryan, Ken G; Wood, Susanna A

    2015-02-01

    Benthic cyanobacterial blooms are increasing worldwide and can be harmful to human and animal health if they contain toxin-producing species. Microbial interactions are important in the formation of benthic biofilms and can lead to increased dominance and/or toxin production of one or few taxa. This study investigated how microbial interactions contribute to proliferation of benthic blooms dominated by the neurotoxin-producing Phormidium autumnale. Following a rainfall event that cleared the substrate, biofilm succession was characterised at a site on the Hutt River (New Zealand) by sampling every 2-3 days over 32 days. A combination of morphological and molecular community analyses (automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis and Illumina™ MiSeq sequencing) identified three distinct phases of succession in both the micro-algal and bacterial communities within P. autumnale-dominated biofilms. Bacterial composition shifted between the phases, and these changes occurred several days before those of the micro-algal community. Alphaproteobacteria and Betaproteobacteria dominate in the early phase; Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, Sphingobacteria and Flavobacteria in the mid-phase; and Sphingobacteria and Flavobacteria in the late phase. Collectively, the results suggest that succession is driven by bacteria in the early stages but becomes dependent on micro-algae in the mid- and late stages of biofilm formation. PMID:25467742

  8. Relationship between the location of chemosynthetic benthic communities and geologic structure on the Cascadia subduction zone

    SciTech Connect

    Lewis, B.T.R. ); Cochrane, G.C. )

    1990-06-10

    Chemosynthetic benthic communities, which live symbiotically with microbes capable of metabolizing nutrients dissolved in water seeping out of the seafloor, are widespread along the Cascadia subduction zone. These seeps and vents are therefore indicative of one mode of fluid migration out of the subduction zone sediments. The authors have used deep-towed seismic methods, including hydrophones mounted on Alvin, to examine the detailed geologic structure under two of these vent sites. At one of the sites, located on a seaward dipping thrust zone, the benthic communities are associated with a disruption of the subsurface acoustic layering in the thrust zone. It appears that at this site, dewatering is occurring along fractures in the disrupted sediments which connect to permeable layers in the undeformed sediments and not along the main thrust fault. The other site is located near the top of a ridge which has been uplifted by thrusting along a landward dipping thrust. Most of the benthic communities are found to exist at the outcrop of a steeply dipping unconformity between recent slope-basin sediments and the older uplifted sediments, with the unconformity serving as the fluid pathway. Underlying this unconformity at the most active dewatering location is a complexly deformed structure which appears to enhance the flow of fluid to the unconformity. The source of the fluids could be the older uplifted sediments or the recent slope-basin turbidites. In either case the source is shallow, less than about 1 km.

  9. Is benthic food web structure related to diversity of marine macrobenthic communities?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sokołowski, A.; Wołowicz, M.; Asmus, H.; Asmus, R.; Carlier, A.; Gasiunaité, Z.; Grémare, A.; Hummel, H.; Lesutiené, J.; Razinkovas, A.; Renaud, P. E.; Richard, P.; Kędra, M.

    2012-08-01

    Numerical structure and the organisation of food webs within macrozoobenthic communities has been assessed in the European waters (Svalbard, Barents Sea, Baltic Sea, North Sea, Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea) to address the interactions between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Abundance and classical species diversity indices (S, H', J) of macrofaunal communities were related to principal attributes of food webs (relative trophic level and food chain length, FCL) that were determined from carbon and nitrogen stable isotope values. Structure of marine macrobenthos varies substantially at a geographical scale; total abundance ranges from 63 ind. m-2 to 34,517 ind. m-2, species richness varies from 3 to 166 and the Shannon-Weaver diversity index from 0.26 to 3.26 while Pielou's evenness index is below 0.73. The major source of energy for macrobenthic communities is suspended particulate organic matter, consisting of phytoplankton and detrital particles, sediment particulate organic matter, and microphytobenthos in varying proportions. These food sources support the presence of suspension- and deposit-feeding communities, which dominate numerically on the sea floor. Benthic food webs include usually four to five trophic levels (FCL varies from 3.08 to 4.86). Most species are assigned to the second trophic level (primary consumers), fewer species are grouped in the third trophic level (secondary consumers), and benthic top predators are the least numerous. Most species cluster primarily at the lowest trophic level that is consistent with the typical organization of pyramidal food webs. Food chain length increases with biodiversity, highlighting a positive effect of more complex community structure on food web organisation. In more diverse benthic communities, energy is transferred through more trophic levels while species-poor communities sustain a shorter food chain.

  10. Typhoon damage on a shallow mesophotic reef in Okinawa, Japan

    PubMed Central

    Ohara, Taku; Fujii, Takuma; Kawamura, Iori; Mizuyama, Masaru; Montenegro, Javier; Shikiba, Haruka; Naruse, Tohru; McClelland, TY; Denis, Vianney; Reimer, James D.

    2013-01-01

    Little is known about effects of large storm systems on mesophotic reefs. This study reports on how Typhoon 17 (Jelawat) affected Ryugu Reef on Okinawa-jima, Japan in September 2012. Benthic communities were surveyed before and after the typhoon using line intercept transect method. Comparison of the benthic assemblages showed highly significant differences in coral coverage at depths of 25–32 m before and after Typhoon 17. A large deep stand of Pachyseris foliosa was apparently less resistant to the storm than the shallower high diversity area of this reef. Contradictory to common perception, this research shows that large foliose corals at deeper depths are just as susceptible to typhoon damage as shallower branching corals. However, descriptive functional group analyses resulted in only minor changes after the disturbance, suggesting the high likelihood of recovery and the high resilience capacity of this mesophotic reef. PMID:24032094