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Claessens M.,University of Salzburg | Wickham S.A.,University of Salzburg | Post A.F.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Science | Reuter M.,University of Cologne
Marine Biology | Year: 2010

Ecological theory predicts that low productivity systems should have low biodiversity. However, despite the oligotrophic status of the Gulf of Aqaba (Northern Red Sea) ciliate species richness was unexpectedly high. In addition, phytoplankton, as main ciliate prey, was made up by only few genera, indicating a significant niche overlap among the grazers. Up to 97% of the ciliates were from the same taxonomic group and of the same size range, implying very similar food niches. Ciliate diversity was highest at times of lowest chlorophyll concentrations, during the period of stable abiotic conditions, but relatively high genetic diversity within the ciliate prey, notably among the cyanobacteria Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus. In the absence of disturbance and with little predation pressure, the alternate explanations for the observed ciliate diversity are either very fine niche partitioning by the ciliates, or their competitive equivalence resulting in a random assortment of species immigrating from a larger metacommunity, in accordance with Hubbell's, (The unified neutral theory of biodiversity and biogeography. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2001) neutral model. While the use of species abundance distributions (SAD's) is far from definitive, the theoretical SAD's that best fit the Gulf of Aqaba ciliate data was most often not that expected by neutral theory. © Springer-Verlag 2009.


Evans D.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Muller W.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Oron S.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Oron S.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Science | Renema W.,Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Earth and Planetary Science Letters | Year: 2013

Intra-test variability in Mg/Ca and other (trace) elements within large benthic foraminifera (LBF) of the family Nummulitidae have been investigated using laser-ablation inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS). These foraminifera have a longevity and size facilitating seasonal proxy retrieval and a depth distribution similar to 'surface-dwelling' planktic foraminifera. Coupled with their abundance in climatically important periods such as the Paleogene, this means that this family of foraminifera are an important but under-utilised source of palaeoclimatic information. We have calibrated the relationship between Mg/Ca and temperature in modern Operculina ammonoides and observe a ~2% increase in Mg/Ca°C-1. O. ammonoides is the nearest living relative of the abundant Eocene genus Nummulites, enabling us to reconstruct mid-Eocene tropical sea surface temperature seasonality by applying our calibration to fossil Nummulites djokdjokartae from Java. Our results indicate a 5-6°C annual temperature range, implying greater than modern seasonality in the mid-Eocene (Bartonian). This is consistent with seasonal surface ocean cooling facilitated by enhanced Eocene tropical cyclone-induced upper ocean mixing, as suggested by recent modelling results. Analyses of fossil N. djokdjokartae and Operculina sp. from the same stratigraphic interval demonstrate that environmental controls on proxy distribution coefficients are the same for these two genera, within error. Using previously published test-seawater alkaline earth metal distribution coefficients derived from an LBF of the same family (Raitzsch et al., 2010) and inorganic calcite, with appropriate correction systematics for secular Mg/Casw variation (Evans and Müller, 2012), we use our fossil data to produce a more accurate foraminifera-based Mg/Casw reconstruction and an estimate of seawater Sr/Ca. We demonstrate that mid-Eocene Mg/Casw was ≲2molmol -1, which is in contrast to the model most commonly used to correct deep-time Mg/Ca data from foraminifera, but in agreement with most other Paleogene proxy and model data. This indicates that Mg/Casw has undergone a substantial (3-4 × ) rise over the last ~40Ma. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Roff G.,University of Queensland | Kvennefors E.C.E.,University of Queensland | Fine M.,Bar - Ilan University | Fine M.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Science | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Outbreaks of coral disease have increased worldwide over the last few decades. Despite this, remarkably little is known about the ecology of disease in the Indo-Pacific Region. Here we report the spatiotemporal dynamics of a coral disease termed 'Acroporid white syndrome' observed to affect tabular corals of the genus Acropora on the southern Great Barrier Reef. The syndrome is characterised by rapid tissue loss initiating in the basal margins of colonies, and manifests as a distinct lesion boundary between apparently healthy tissue and exposed white skeleton. Surveys of eight sites around Heron Reef in 2004 revealed a mean prevalence of 8.1±0.9%, affecting the three common species (Acropora cytherea, A. hyacinthus, A. clathrata) and nine other tabular Acropora spp. While all sizes of colonies were affected, white syndrome disproportionately affected larger colonies of tabular Acroporids (>80 cm). The prevalence of white syndrome was strongly related to the abundance of tabular Acroporids within transects, yet the incidence of the syndrome appears unaffected by proximity to other colonies, suggesting that while white syndrome is density dependant, it does not exhibit a strongly aggregated spatial pattern consistent with previous coral disease outbreaks. Acroporid white syndrome was not transmitted by either direct contact in the field or by mucus in aquaria experiments. Monitoring of affected colonies revealed highly variable rates of tissue loss ranging from 0 to 1146 cm -2 week -1, amongst the highest documented for a coral disease. Contrary to previous links between temperature and coral disease, rates of tissue loss in affected colonies increased threefold during the winter months. Given the lack of spatial pattern and non-infectious nature of Acroporid white syndrome, further studies are needed to determine causal factors and longer-term implications of disease outbreaks on the Great Barrier Reef. © 2011 Roff et al.


Borell E.M.,Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology | Borell E.M.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Science | Romatzki S.B.C.,Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology | Ferse S.C.A.,Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology
Coral Reefs | Year: 2010

Despite increasing popularity of 'electric' reefs as a means for reef restoration, there is a distinct lack of quantitative evidence supporting the alleged benefits of this method. This study investigated the effects of an electric field versus an electric field in combination with a cathode on coral growth (skeletal extension) rates, coral survival, zooxanthella densities, chlorophyll a (chl a) concentrations, and chlorophyll fluorescence of Acropora pulchra and A. yongei. Coral transplants were grown for 4 months under three treatment conditions: (1) on an iron cathode, (2) on bamboo inside an electric field, or (3) on bamboo in the absence of an electric field. Contrary to predictions, coral growth rates of both species were highest inside the electric field and not on the cathode. Except for chl a concentrations, the cathode had a significant adverse effect on all measured variables for A. yongei but not for A. pulchra. Treatment had no effect on the survival of A. pulchra, while mortality rates of A. yongei were significantly higher in the presence of mineral accretion compared to the electric field and control. A. yongei on the cathode featured low zooxanthella densities, depressed electron transport rates (rETR) and maximum quantum yield (Fv/Fm), and reduced growth. By contrast, treatment had no effect on the fluorescence characteristics of A. pulchra, and zooxanthella densities were highest for corals on the cathode, coincident with high growth rates relative to the control. Overall, the data indicate that the proposed benefits of the mineral accretion technology to meet important objectives of reef rehabilitation with regard to colony growth and survival should be considered with caution. © Springer-Verlag 2009.


Evans D.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Erez J.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Oron S.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Oron S.,The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Science | Muller W.,Royal Holloway, University of London
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta | Year: 2015

The foraminifera Mg/Ca palaeothermometer contributes significantly to our understanding of palaeoceanic temperature variation. However, since seawater Mg/Ca has undergone large secular variation and the relationship between seawater and test Mg/Ca has not been calibrated in detail for any species with a substantial fossil record, it is only possible to assess relative temperature changes in pre-Pleistocene fossil samples. In order to establish the basis of accurate quantitative Mg/Ca-derived deep-time temperature reconstructions, we have calibrated the relationship between test Mg/Ca, seawater chemistry and temperature in laboratory cultures of the shallow-dwelling large benthic species Operculina ammonoides. Operculina has a fossil range extending back to the early Paleogene and is the nearest living relative of the abundant genus Nummulites. We find a temperature sensitivity of 1.7%°C-1 and a linear relationship between the Mg distribution coefficient and seawater Mg/Ca (Mg/Casw) with m=-1.9×10-3, within error of the equivalent slope for inorganic calcite. The higher test Mg/Ca of O. ammonoides compared to inorganic calcite may be explained by an elevated pH of the calcifying fluid, implying that these foraminifera do not modify the Mg/Ca ratio of the seawater from which they calcify, differentiating them in this respect from most other perforate foraminifera. Applying these calibrations to previously published fossil data results in palaeo-Mg/Casw reconstruction consistent with independent proxy evidence. Furthermore, our data enable accurate absolute palaeotemperature reconstructions if Mg/Casw is constrained by another technique (e.g. ridge flank vein carbonate; fluid inclusions). Finally, we examine Li, Na, Sr and Ba incorporation into the test of O. ammonoides and discuss the control exerted by temperature, seawater chemistry, saturation state and growth rate on these emerging proxies. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

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