Cardini, Ulisse, Bednarz, Vanessa N., van Hoytema, Nanne, Rovere, Alessio, Naumann, Malik S., Al-Rshaidat, Mamoon M. D. and Wild, Christian (2016) Budget of Primary Production and Dinitrogen Fixation in a Highly Seasonal Red Sea Coral Reef. Ecosystems, 19 (5). pp. 771-785. DOI

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Biological dinitrogen (N2) fixation (diazotrophy, BNF) relieves marine primary producers of nitrogen (N) limitation in a large part of the world oceans. N concentrations are particularly low in tropical regions where coral reefs are located, and N is therefore a key limiting nutrient for these productive ecosystems. In this context, the importance of diazotrophy for reef productivity is still not resolved, with studies up to now lacking organismal and seasonal resolution. Here, we present a budget of gross primary production (GPP) and BNF for a highly seasonal Red Sea fringing reef, based on ecophysiological and benthic cover measurements combined with geospatial analyses. Benthic GPP varied from 215 to 262 mmol C m−2 reef d−1, with hard corals making the largest contribution (41–76%). Diazotrophy was omnipresent in space and time, and benthic BNF varied from 0.16 to 0.92 mmol N m−2 reef d−1. Planktonic GPP and BNF rates were respectively approximately 60- and 20-fold lower than those of the benthos, emphasizing the importance of the benthic compartment in reef biogeochemical cycling. BNF showed higher sensitivity to seasonality than GPP, implying greater climatic control on reef BNF. Up to about 20% of net reef primary production could be supported by BNF during summer, suggesting a strong biogeochemical coupling between diazotrophy and the reef carbon cycle.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: UNSPECIFIED
Research affiliation: Biogeochemistry and Geology
Affiliations > Not ZMT
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.:
ISSN: 1432-9840
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2019 13:03
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2020 12:59

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