AME 44:59-70 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/ame044059

Picoplankton removal by the coral reef community of La Prévoyante, Mayotte Island

F. Houlbréque1,4,*, B. Delesalle2, J. Blanchot3, Y. Montel3, C. Ferrier-Pagés1

1Centre Scientifique de Monaco, Av. Saint Martin, 98000, Monaco
2Laboratoire des Ecosystèmes aquatiques tropicaux et méditerranéens, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, UMR CNRS 8046, Université de Perpignan, 52, Av. Paul Alduy, 66860 Perpignan Cedex, France
3Centre IRD de la Réunion Jean Blanchot IRD La Réunion BP 172, 97492 Sainte-Clotilde Cedex La Réunion, France
4Present address: Geological & Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall, Bldg 320, Room 118, Stanford,California 94305-2115, USA

ABSTRACT: We examined the trophic contribution of pico- and nanoplankton to a patch reef dominated by scleractinian corals and located at Mayotte Island (Comoro Archipelago). Pico- and nanoplankton concentrations, as well as total particulate organic matter, were measured on a sandy-bottom and a patch reef transect. Results showed that particles <10 µm accounted for 74% of the chlorophyll a concentration and for 47% of the total living carbon. Synechococcus sp. represented 65% of the chlorophyll <3 µm and 53 and 67% of the autotrophic carbon and nitrogen, respectively, followed by picoeukaryotes, nanoeukaryotes and Prochlorococcus sp. Concentrations of total chlorophyll a, as well as picoplankton groups, were depleted 30 to 45% above the reef compared to in the adjacent waters and in sandy-bottom samples. Concentrations of nanoflagellates and total particulate organic matter, by contrast, remained unchanged during their passage across the reef. These results suggest selective grazing of picoplankton by the benthic community and compound the importance of picoplankton for the benthic-pelagic coupling and trophic dynamics on coral reefs.

KEY WORDS: Picoplankton · Nanoplankton · Benthos · Coral reef communities · Particle removal

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