Nutrient enrichment caused by marine cage culture and its influence on subtropical coral communities in turbid waters

Huang, Y.-C.A., Hsieh, H.J., Huang, S.-C., Meng, P.-J., Chen, Y.-S., Keshavmurthy, S., Nozawa, Y., and Chen, C.A. (2011) Nutrient enrichment caused by marine cage culture and its influence on subtropical coral communities in turbid waters. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 423. pp. 83-93.

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The scale and intensity of marine cage culture have increased in the Asian-Pacific region, particularly in oligotrophic waters where coral reef organisms flourish. In this study, the influence of marine cage culture on subtropical coral communities in turbid waters was evaluated by measuring environmental parameters and benthic community compositions at Magongwan in the Penghu Islands, Taiwan. A canonical discriminant analysis of environmental parameters revealed that elevated levels of ammonium, nitrite, and chlorophyll a (chl a) released from the cages were the main pollution indicators that, in addition to sedimentation and turbidity, distinguished Impact Zone 1 (cage-culture zone) from the other 2 zones - Impact Zone 2 (800 m away from the cages) and the reference zone - in these turbid waters. Results of the canonical correlation analysis indicated that the coverage extents of macroalgae, sponges, and zoanthids were strongly correlated with levels of ammonium, nitrite, phosphate, chl a, and dissolved oxygen. Coral communities in Impact Zone 1 were mostly composed of stress-tolerant massive and submassive corals, but were lacking branching Acropora corals. In contrast, coral communities in the other zones, with high habitat complexity and species richness, were dominated by coral species with diverse morphologies, including branching Acropora coral communities. These results suggest that marine cage culture has been causing chronic nutrient enrichment in the surrounding waters at Magongwan, which may have resulted in a deterioration of suitable habitats for coral reef organisms. Nevertheless, intermediate levels of nutrients and particulate organic matter relative to the other zones might have been caused by the adjacent cage culture, resulting in the high coral coverage and diversity in the Impact Zone 2 in particular.

Item ID: 21761
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1616-1599
Keywords: benthic communities, eutrophication, marine cage culture, nutrient enrichment, stress-tolerant corals
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Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2012 04:43
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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