Navigation Links
Fish have enormous nutrient impacts on marine ecosystems, study finds
Date:12/11/2012

Athens, Ga. Fish play a far more important role as contributors of nutrients to marine ecosystems than previously thought, according to researchers at the University of Georgia and Florida International University. In a pair of papers in the journal Ecology, they show that fish contribute more nutrients to their local ecosystems than any other sourceenough to cause changes in the growth rates of the organisms at the base of the food web.

Jacob Allgeier, a doctoral student in the UGA Odum School of Ecology, and Craig Layman, associate professor at Florida International University, led the study, which took place in the waters of a large bay on Abaco Island, Bahamas.

Most tropical coastal ecosystems are nutrient limited, meaning that the system's primary food sources such as algae and seagrass need to have enough nitrogen and phosphorusin the right proportionsto grow and thrive.

"We've been thinking about the role of fish and the nutrients they're excreting in these ecosystems for a while now," Allgeier said. In marine food webs, fish are usually thought of as predators, he explained, consuming microorganisms, plants and smaller animals. But fish have another important, although often overlooked, role in the system. Through excretion, they recycle the nutrients they take in, providing the fertilizer sea grass and algae need to grow.

To determine the impact of nutrients from fish, the team needed to compare sites with fish populations of different sizes. Knowing that fish tend to congregate around reefsthe larger the reef, the more fish it attractsthey built a series of artificial reefs of two sizes, large and small, and selected a number of control sites with no reefs at all.

Over the course of two years they surveyed each site periodically to record the number, size and species of fish present. Allgeier created models to estimate the supply of nutrients from all species of fish at the various sites.

The researchers also measured the nutrient content and growth rate of seagrass. They weren't surprised that seagrass at the large reefs grew faster and contained more nutrients than seagrass at the small reefs and control sitesbut they were surprised at the magnitude of the difference and the extent to which it occurred.

"The rate of daily seagrass growth ranged from 37 square millimeters at large reefs to 10 square millimeters at control sitesnearly a four-fold difference," Allgeier said. "Fish are putting an enormous amount of nutrients into this systemit appears to be even more than all other sources, including runoff from golf courses and all other human caused impacts, combined."

The effect extended for roughly three meters around each large reef. The fish were contributing more nutrients than the seagrass could take in, allowing the excess nutrients to drift further away from their source, fertilizing seagrass and algae in ever-widening areas. The researchers anticipate this effect to extend further with increased time.

Allgeier described the large reefs as "biogeochemical hotspots"areas with particularly high rates of chemicals cycling between organisms and the environment.

"The reefs are nodes within the ecosystem matrix," he said. "They're increasing productivity around the reefs by orders of magnitude. If there are enough of them (reefs), then they may be increasing productivity at the ecosystem level by orders of magnitude as well. That's something we're going to be looking at next."

Allgeier said the team's findings further point to the importance of maintaining a healthy fish community, explaining that different types of fish contribute different amounts of nutrients.

"Even if you have large numbers of fish, if they're dominated by one species, they're filling just one nutrient cycling niche in that ecosystem," he said. "That's not how these systems are used to being fed nutrients."


'/>"/>

Contact: Jacob Allgeier
jeallg@uga.edu
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Lack of nutrients and metabolic syndrome linked to different subtypes of depression
2. Nutrient in eggs and meat may influence gene expression from infancy to adulthood
3. Increased sediment and nutrients delivered to bay as Susquehanna reservoirs near sediment capacity
4. U OF A expert pinpoints nutrient behind fresh water algae blooms
5. Study: No-fat, low-fat dressings dont get most nutrients out of salads
6. Prenatal micronutrient, food supplementation intervention in Bangladesh decreases child death rate
7. Obtaining key nutrients from canned foods can save consumers money
8. Nutrient and toxin all at once: How plants absorb the perfect quantity of minerals
9. Consumers need simple, concise messages about benefits of phytonutrients
10. Research on flavanols and procyanidins provides new insights into how these phytonutrients may positively impact human health
11. Researchers investigate impacts of climate change on rare tropical plants
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Fish have enormous nutrient impacts on marine ecosystems, study finds
(Date:2/10/2017)... , Feb 10, 2017 ... new report "Personalized Medicine - Scientific and Commercial Aspects" ... ... personalized medicine. Diagnosis is integrated with therapy for selection of ... on early detection and prevention of disease in modern medicine. ...
(Date:2/8/2017)... NEW YORK , Feb. 7, 2017 Report ... ... and should reach $11.4 billion by 2021, growing at a ... Report Includes - An overview of the global markets for ... from 2015, estimates for 2016, and projections of compound annual ...
(Date:2/7/2017)... Feb. 7, 2017 Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. ... healthcare, will present at the LEERINK Partners 6th Annual ... Hotel on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 10 a.m. ... the presentation can be accessed at http://wsw.com/webcast/leerink28/zbh .  ... conference via Zimmer Biomet,s Investor Relations website at ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/22/2017)... ... February 22, 2017 , ... ... of women’s health, primary care, and specialty education, announced today it has ... (ACCME). ACCME’s Accreditation with Commendation is a six-year accreditation and is the ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... Origin (Origin Agritech, LLC, a subsidiary of Origin Agritech ... Arcadia (Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., NASDAQ: RKDA), a ... productivity traits and nutritional products, today announced their collaboration to achieve ... China to the United States ... ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... Md. and RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., Feb. 22, 2017 ... ) today announced its financial results for the ... "Our annual 2016 financial results reflect continued ... earnings exceeded $700 million," said Martine Rothblatt, Ph.D., ... financial results strengthen our ability to develop and ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... ... February 21, 2017 , ... ... and development (R&D), today announced the establishment of Genedata Limited as a new ... Teburi, a recognized expert in life science informatics. Creating the UK subsidiary reinforces ...
Breaking Biology Technology: