Characterization of net community production and net community calcification among nursery-reared coral communities in the Florida Keys
Coral nurseries are a valuable ecological engineering tool to assist with coral reef ecological restoration efforts. While nursery methods are applied worldwide because of their success enhancing coral growth over short periods of time, little numerical and chemical data characterizing coral metabolism within offshore nurseries are available. This study aims to fill such a data gap by using previously-developed chemical monitoring technology to investigate coral metabolism, which is arguably the most direct intrinsic indicator of coral growth and functionality. This study represents the first steps in developing a method to remotely monitor coral nurseries, as well as transplanted coral on reef sites.
The Benthic Ecosystem and Acidification Measurement System (BEAMS) was developed by Dr. Yuichiro Takeshita of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. BEAMS is composed of a set of sensors which measure pH and dissolved oxygen, as well as current velocity and photosynthetically active light radiation. Using the gradient flux approach, measurements made with the BEAMS technology can be used to assess the net community production and net community calcification of a sample site.
The Spectrophotometric Elemental Analysis System - Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (SEAS-DIC) instrument is an in-situ, autonomous sensor developed by Dr. Xuewu Liu at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science in 2013, in the CO2 Chemistry Lab headed by Dr. Robert Byrne. The SEAS-DIC sensor provides high frequency measurements of dissolved inorganic carbon using an in-situ spectrophotometer. In this study, data collected with the SEAS-DIC will be used to estimate the photosynthetic quotient of the sample site, as well as make estimations of total alkalinity using pH, DIC, and site parameters such as salinity and temperature.
Check out photos from the August 2018 field deployment at the Mote Marine Laboratory's offshore coral nursery! (Photo credit: Elizabeth Yancey)