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Benthic Primary Production of an Upwelling-Influenced Coral Reef

Paper Reviewed
Eidens, C., Bayraktarov, E., Hauffe, T., Pizarro, V., Wilke, T. and Wild, C. 2014. Benthic primary production in an upwelling-influenced coral reef, Colombian Caribbean. PeerJ 2: 10.7717/peerj.554.

Writing as background for their study, Eidens et al. (2014) state that in Tayrona National Natural Park (TNNP), abiotic factors such as water temperature, light intensity and nutrient availability are subjected to significant temporal variability due to seasonal coastal upwelling; and they say that inasmuch as these factors are the major drivers controlling coral reef primary production, this situation "offers the opportunity to assess the effects of abiotic factors on reef productivity." So they thus went on to evaluate the net primary production (Pn) and gross production (Pg) of the TNNP's dominant primary producers (scleractinian corals, macro-algae, algal turfs, crustose coralline algae, and micro-phytobenthos) at a sheltered but water-current and wave-exposed site in one of Tayrona Park's bays.

This work revealed a close similarity in reef productivity rates throughout all seasons of the year, which led the six researchers to suggest that "coral reefs in TNNP can cope with pronounced seasonal variations in light availability, water temperature and nutrient availability." In fact, after one severe bleaching event, they report that "corals in the bay recovered quickly in the course of [a] following upwelling event," citing Bayraktarov et al. (2013).

In light of these several observations, Eidens et al. conclude that "this stable benthic productivity suggests a relatively high resilience of local benthic communities against natural environmental fluctuations and anthropogenic disturbances," among which they pointedly list climate change.

Bayraktarov, E., Pizarro, V., Eidens, C., Wilke, T. and Wild, C. 2013. Bleaching susceptibility and recovery of Colombian Caribbean corals in response to water current exposure and seasonal upwelling. PLoS ONE 8: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080536.

Posted 6 May 2015