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Browsing by Subject "coral reef. aeolian dust"

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  • Saarman, Pauliina (2020)
    Iron is a trace element but indispensable for all photosynthesizing organisms. It is unevenly distributed in the world’s oceans, limiting production in offshore high nitrogen low chlorophyll (HNLC) seas. The Caribbean Sea periodically receives high amounts of iron-carrying aeolian dust originating in the African desert. This aerosol Fe is estimated to contribute three times as much as riverine input to the total iron in the seawater, a considerable fraction of it being soluble ferrous Fe(II) due to photochemical reactions. It has been hypothesized that the excess iron in the Caribbean Sea is one of the reasons why the Caribbean coral reefs are less resilient to degradation. The algae that are not limited by iron have the potential to efficiently utilize the macronutrients from e.g. anthropogenic sources and overgrow the corals. In this study Fe, N & P enrichment experiments were conducted in situ in Guadeloupe to find out if iron limitation can be detected and to contemplate the role of atmospheric iron and the anthropogenic impact. Sargassum polyceratium and Dictyota spp. (Phaeophyceae) were collected from four locations that had degraded coral reefs with macroalgae growing on them. The samples’ fluorescence was measured using Pulse Amplitude Modulator (PAM) fluoroscope to detect nutrient-induced fluorescence transients (NIFTs), rapid changes in chlorophyll fluorescence caused by nutrient assimilation in the algal specimen. Iron limitation was detected in all of the study locations but it was weak, which gives limited support to the hypothesis about iron deteriorating the Caribbean reefs’ chances against disturbance. Comparison of the locations did not result in differences in iron limitation according to the anthropogenic impact level. The difference was statistically significant in P limitation, the algae from high impact sites expressing greater demand. Ammonium and nitrate enrichments did not result in significant differences, but NH4 limitation did occur, as well as co-limitation of N & P. Iron has an important role in the phosphorus flux in the sediments and high Fe availability benefits N-fixing cyanobacteria. Redox conditions in the sediment control both Fe and P availability in the water column. Nutrient leaching does affect the local nutrient dynamics but the effects of eutrophication depend on both the species and the community. Notable differences in the NIFT responses were detected between the species that may indeed exert differing nutritional strategies. Coral reef ecosystem complexity emphasizes the importance of timing as well as consistence in quantification of the environmental parameters. The applicability of NIFT results would improve if they were combined with nutrient concentrations data. The fluorescence method appears to be useful in studying iron limitation but more research on iron-induced NIFTs is needed.