Gradients in water column nutrients, sediment parameters, irradiance and coral reef development in the Whitsunday Region, central Great Barrier Reef

Cooper, Timothy F., Uthicke, Sven, Humphrey, Craig, and Fabricius, Katharina E. (2007) Gradients in water column nutrients, sediment parameters, irradiance and coral reef development in the Whitsunday Region, central Great Barrier Reef. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 74 (3). pp. 458-470.

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Abstract

Spatial variation of water column characteristics, sediment parameters and irradiance on coral reefs was examined in the Whitsunday region of the Great Barrier Reef during five sampling events between 2004 and 2006. Sampling locations were selected along a transect from outer reefs distant from terrestrial inputs, to coastal reefs near the Australian mainland. Most of the water column variables (especially chlorophyll a, total suspended solids, particulate organic carbon and particulate nutrients) and irradiance variables (Secchi and optical depth) changed significantly along the transect. For example, concentrations of chlorophyll a and total suspended solids increased two- and three-fold, respectively, from outer to coastal locations, while sediment inorganic carbon decreased and sediment colour became darker. Similarly, Secchi and optical depth, two measures of water transparency, decreased approximately three-fold towards the coast. Most of these gradients were persistent over the five sampling events, but for several parameters, the magnitude and steepness of the gradient changed. The maximum depth of zooxanthellate corals decreased five-fold along the gradient from outer to coastal locations and was related significantly to a water quality index derived for the Whitsunday Islands. Our data of the maximal depth limit for reef development at locations where suitable settlement substrata were available suggest that the absolute minimum of light required for a reef to persist is in the range of 6–8% of surface irradiance in the Whitsunday Islands.

Item ID: 2174
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: environmental gradient; coastal zone; chlorophyll a; turbidity; optical depth
ISSN: 1096-0015
Date Deposited: 28 May 2009 00:42
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960999 Land and Water Management of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 48
Downloads: Total: 3
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