Effects of water velocity on picoplankton uptake by coral reef communities

Ribes, M.; Atkinson, M. J.
Coral Reefs
In previous experiments, rates of picoplankton uptake into coral communities were controlled by sponge and ascidian biomass. Those experimental communities, however, had relatively few sponges and ascidians. In contrast, turbulent transport of particles into the momentum boundary layers can limit particle removal by layered, dense bivalve populations. In this study, the role of water velocity in controlling particulate nutrient-uptake by rubble communities was evaluated, in which the rubble was more completely covered by sponges and ascidians. Picoplankton uptake was proportional to concentration over a range of cell concentrations from 3.0 · 105 to 9.5 · 105 heterotrophic bacteria ml–1, 4.1 · 104 to 1.2 · 105 Synechococcus sp. ml–1 and 6.3 · 103 to 1.8 · 104 picoeukaryotes ml–1. The first-order uptake rate constants, normalized to sponge and ascidian biomass, were similar to previous experimental communities. Picoplankton uptake increased 1.6-fold over a 7-fold change in water velocity, 0.05–0.35 m s–1. This increase has been interpreted as a result of higher turbulent transport within the rough coral community (canopy), as indicated by a 1.6-fold increase in the bottom friction with increasing water velocity.
Coral reefs, Rubble, Picoplankton uptake, Water flow, Sponges, Cryptic fauna
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