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Reef communities associated with ‘dead’ cold-water coral framework drive resource retention and recycling in the deep sea
Maier, S.R.; Mienis, F.; de Froe, E.; Soetaert, K.; Lavaleye, M.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; Beauchard, O.; van der Kaaden, A.-S.; Koch, B.P.; van Oevelen, D. (2021). Reef communities associated with ‘dead’ cold-water coral framework drive resource retention and recycling in the deep sea. Deep-Sea Res., Part 1, Oceanogr. Res. Pap. 175: 103574.

Bijhorende data:
In: Deep-Sea Research, Part I. Oceanographic Research Papers. Elsevier: Oxford. ISSN 0967-0637; e-ISSN 1879-0119, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Carbonate mound; Metabolic activity; Rockall bank; Dissolved organic carbon; Dissolved inorganic nitrogen; Suspension feeder; Video transect

Auteurs  Top 
  • Lavaleye, M., meer
  • Duineveld, G.C.A., meer
  • Beauchard, O.
  • van der Kaaden, A.-S., meer
  • Koch, B.P.
  • van Oevelen, D., meer

    Cold-water coral (CWC) reefs create hotspots of metabolic activity in the deep sea, in spite of the limited supply of fresh organic matter from the ocean surface (i.e. phytodetritus). We propose that ‘dead’ coral framework, which harbours diverse faunal and microbial communities, boosts the metabolic activity of the reefs, through enhanced resource retention and recycling. Analysis of a video transect across a 700-540 m-deep CWC mound (Rockall Bank, North-East Atlantic) revealed a high benthic cover of dead framework (64%). Box-cored fragments of dead framework were incubatedon-board and showed oxygen consumption rates of 0.078–0.182 μmol O 2 (mmol OC)−1 h−1, indicating a substantial contribution to the total metabolic activity of the CWC reef. During the incubations, it was shown that the framework degradation stage influences nitrogen (re)cycling, corresponding to differences in community composition. New (less-degraded) framework released ammonium(0.005 ± 0.001 μmol NH4+ (mmol OC)−1 h −1), probably due to the activity of ammonotelic macrofauna. In contrast, old (more-degraded) framework released nitrate(0.015 ± 0.008 μmol NO3 (mmol OC)−1 h −1), indicating that nitrifying microorganisms recycled fauna-excreted ammonium to nitrate. Furthermore, the framework community removed natural dissolved organic matter (DOM) from the incubation water (0.005–0.122 μmol C (mmol OC)−1 h−1). Additional feeding experiments showed that all functional groups and macrofauna taxa of the framework community incorporated 13C-enriched (‘labelled’) DOM, indicating widespread DOM uptake and recycling. Finally, the framework effectively retained 13C-enriched phytodetritus, (a) by physical retention on the biofilm-covered surface and (b) by biological filtration through suspension-feeding fauna. We therefore suggest that the dead framework acts as a ‘filtration-recycling factory’ that enhances the metabolic activity of CWC reefs. The exposed framework, however, is particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification, jeopardizing this important aspect of CWC reef functioning.

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