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@ 1983, by the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Phosphorus and nitrogen in coral reef sediments

By Barrie Entsch, Kevin G. Boto, Robin G. Sim and John T. Wellington

Abstract

The occurrence of P and N in the sediments has been investigated on Davies Reef in the central region of the Great Barrier Reef Complex. Concentrations of inorganic P and N in the water were typical of nutrient-depleted tropical surface water. Carbonate sediments were found to contain a uniform pool of P (300 ppm by wt), principally in the form of inorganic phosphate. The interstitial water of the surface layer of sediment contained micromolar concentrations of inorganic P and even higher concentrations of inorganic N, principally as ammonium. These nutrient concentrations should allow high rates of uptake of N and P by epilithic algae. Arsenate concentrations were considered too low to compete significantly with the uptake of available phosphate into algae. The presence of ammonium and soluble P was associated with anaerobic redox potentials in the sediments just below the surface. Soluble phosphorus was in equilibrium with a small, rapidly exchangeable fraction of the sedimentary pool of inorganic phosphate. Analyses of P in growing tips of Halimeda and corals (which supply more than half of reef sediments) suggested that the skeletons provide a biological mechanism for the replenishment of at least some of the sedimentary pool. Ratio

Year: 2013
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