Methods for sampling free-living Symbiodinium (zooxanthellae) and their distribution and abundance at Lizard Island (Great Barrier Reef)

Littman, Raechel A., van Oppen, Madeleine J.H., and Willis, Bette L. (2008) Methods for sampling free-living Symbiodinium (zooxanthellae) and their distribution and abundance at Lizard Island (Great Barrier Reef). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 364 (1). pp. 48-53.

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The abundance and distribution of free-living dinoflagellates in the genus Symbiodinium have important implications for the ecology of coral reefs, determining both the symbionts available to newly recruited corals and symbiont types available for uptake by adult corals during environmental stress. However, little is known about where symbiotic dinoflagellates reside outside the host, due to the difficulty of capturing and detecting unicellular organisms in the marine environment. This study presents a successful protocol for sampling Symbiodinium from both the benthos and the water column. Comparisons of two detection methods for enumerating Symbiodinium indicated that conventional microscope analysis is accurate and more efficient when estimating Symbiodinium densities in sediment samples, while an automated particle counter (FlowCAM) was more efficient in detecting cells in the water column where densities are low. Symbiodinium densities were found to be relatively high (1000–4000 cells/mL) in sediment samples and much lower (up to 80 cells/mL) in the water column, indicating that the free-living form resides mainly in the benthos. Symbiodinium densities were found to be highly variable spatially, differing significantly between two reef locations. Within sites, elevated densities of Symbiodinium along reef margins combined with significant decreases in densities one meter away from the reef, suggest that cells aggregate within the reef habitat.

Item ID: 6578
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0022-0981
Keywords: free-living; Symbiodinium; symbiosis; zooxanthellae; marine sciences
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2010 00:03
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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