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AGU journal highlights -- March 7, 2011
Date:3/7/2011

l reefs around the world are becoming stressed due to rising temperatures, ocean acidification, overfishing, and other factors. Measuring community level rates of photosynthesis, respiration, and biogenic calcification is essential to assessing the health of coral reef ecosystems, because the balance between these processes determines the potential for reef growth and the export of carbon. Measurements of biological productivity have typically been made by tracing changes in dissolved oxygen in seawater as it passes over a reef. However, this is a labor-intensive and difficult method, requiring repeated measurements.

McGillis et al. study the use of two in situ methods of monitoring productivity on Cayo Enrique Reef, Puerto Rico, in March 2009. They compare a technique that measures changes in dissolved oxygen using a chamber that encloses an area of water above the reef with a technique for measuring the flux of dissolved oxygen in the benthic boundary layer at the seafloor. They show that the boundary layer technique agrees well with the enclosure technique. Both methods can make measurements with high spatial and temporal resolution. The boundary layer technique can be used to monitor metabolic activity of reefs in remote locations, at any depth, and over long time periods. It could also be used for any property for which a gradient can be measured by in situ sensing or discrete sampling. The enclosure method can be used for in situ environmental perturbation experiments. A combination of these methods could be a valuable tool for assessing and studying the effects of climate change on coral reef health.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2010GL046179, 2011
http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010GL046179

Title: Productivity of a coral reef using boundary layer and enclosure methods

Authors: W. R. McGillis: Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Earth Institute a
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Contact: Peter Weiss
pweiss@agu.org
202-777-7507
American Geophysical Union
Source:Eurekalert

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