Functional roles of coral reef primary producers examined with stable isotopes

Godinez-Espinosa, Sara, Raoult, Vincent, Smith, Timothy M., Gaston, Troy F., and Williamson, Jane E. (2023) Functional roles of coral reef primary producers examined with stable isotopes. Marine and Freshwater Research, 74 (7). pp. 601-613.

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Context: Primary production on coral reefs varies under changing conditions such as light and nutrient availability. This variation causes changes in basal stable isotopes as photosynthetic and nutrient pathways change.

Aims: This study provides a preliminary baseline of nitrogen (δ15N) and carbon (δ13C) stable isotope profiles in Symbiodinium and macroalgae at a spatial scale and along a depth gradient around an island.

Methods: Coral fragments and macroalgae were collected at depths from the surface to 26 m. δ15N and δ13C stable isotope values were assessed for Symbiodinium relative to cell density per surface area.

Key results: δ15N values showed a uniform nutrient profile across primary producers. However, chlorophyll-a and Symbiodinium density from Montipora stellata had higher concentrations on the southern side of the island. δ15N values of Symbiodinium from Stylophora pistillata and macroalgae did not change with depth. Depth was associated with a significant decrease in Symbiodinium density, and δ13C values in macroalgae.

Conclusions: We attribute these findings to Symbiodinium from S. pistillata as depth increases, decreasing cell density but maintaining chlorophyll-a concentration to satisfy the coral-host nutrient requirements.

Implications: This study sets the scene for future, more comprehensive research on detecting carbon and nitrogen stable isotope values on primary producers in coral reefs.

Item ID: 79543
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-6059
Keywords: carbon, depth, macroalgae, nitrogen, nutrient, nutrients, photogrammetry, primary productivity, SIA, stable isotope baseline, Symbiodinium, Vanuatu
Copyright Information: © 2023 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2024 02:27
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410204 Ecosystem services (incl. pollination) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180203 Coastal or estuarine biodiversity @ 50%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180201 Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems @ 50%
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