The role of coral mortality in nitrogen dynamics on coral reefs

Holmes, G. and Johnstone, R. W. (2010) The role of coral mortality in nitrogen dynamics on coral reefs. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology And Ecology, 387 1-2: 1-8. doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2010.03.006

Author Holmes, G.
Johnstone, R. W.
Title The role of coral mortality in nitrogen dynamics on coral reefs
Journal name Journal of Experimental Marine Biology And Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-0981
Publication date 2010-05-15
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jembe.2010.03.006
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 387
Issue 1-2
Start page 1
End page 8
Total pages 8
Editor Sandra E. Shumway
R. Hughes
S. Thrush
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier BV
Language eng
Subject C1
970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology)
Formatted abstract
Understanding the dynamics of coral reef nutrients, particularly nitrogen, following a coral mortality event is imperative for the prediction of further possible outcomes on impacted reefs, and as such, for the identification of potential management interventions. This study used both acetylene reduction and 15N techniques to investigate the dynamics of nitrogen associated with microbial communities that develop on coral skeletons following bleaching-induced mortality. The results show that nitrogen fixation activity increases dramatically in the initial 3 months following coral mortality with fixation rates as much as an order of magnitude higher than those observed on older hard substrate material throughout the study sites. Rates of acetylene reduction up to 70.5 nmol cm−2 h−1 were observed on post-bleached Montastraea faveolata skeletons while nitrogen fixation rates using 15N up to 112 µmol N2 m−2 h−1 were observed on post-bleached Acropora aspera skeletons. These rates are among the highest reported for coral reefs. Nitrogen fixation activity was found to be influenced by environmental parameters such as nutrient loading and light levels. The results of this study suggest that rates of nitrogen fixation following bleaching-induced mortality may (1) depend on the pre-existing characteristics of a reef, and (2) be sufficient to direct an affected ecosystem toward a phase change from coral to algal dominance.
© 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keyword N-15
Acetylene reduction
Coral bleaching
Ecosystem response
Nitrogen fixation
Fixation Acetylene-reduction
Great Barrier Reef (Qld.)
French Polynesia
Eniwetok Atoll
Climate change
Surface areas
High rates
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 4 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 6 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 27 Jun 2010, 10:04:39 EST