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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 465:11-23 (2012)  -  DOI:

Cold-water coral ecosystem (Tisler Reef, Norwegian Shelf) may be a hotspot for carbon cycling

Martin White1,*, George A. Wolff2, Tomas Lundälv3, Damien Guihen1,6, Kostas Kiriakoulakis4, Marc Lavaleye5, Gerard Duineveld5

1Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
2School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, 4 Brownlow Street, Liverpool L69 3GP, UK
3Sven Loven Centre for Marine Science, University of Gothenburg, 452 96 Strömstad, Sweden
4School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, John Moores University, Byrom St., Liverpool L3 3AF, UK
5The Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, NIOZ, PO Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg (Texel), The Netherlands
6Present address: British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Maddingley Rd, Cambridge CB2 0ET, UK

ABSTRACT: Cold-water coral (CWC) reefs are recognised as an important marine benthic ecosystem at continental margins. Where abundant, they most likely play a role both in the maintenance of biodiversity and in the provision of ecosystem services provided by shelf seas. Here, we directly measure the community respiration of a CWC reef on the Norwegian shelf and show that rates of oxygen uptake are high in summer (25−88 mmol O2 m−2 d−1), with lower spring values (7.5−9 mmol O2 m−2 d−1). Spring uptake rates are comparable to values at shelf sediments at similar water depths, while summer values are much higher. We calculate that with such high respiration rates, CWC reef ecosystems potentially turnover a significant proportion (~25%) of the annual shelf carbon export in the Norwegian Sea, where CWC reefs are abundant. The loss of CWCs through physical destruction or ocean acidification may have a significant impact on local carbon cycling in the mid- to high-latitude North Atlantic Ocean.

KEY WORDS: Benthic community respiration · Cold-water corals · Lophelia pertusa · Carbon cycling

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Cite this article as: White M, Wolff GA, Lundälv T, Guihen D, Kiriakoulakis K, Lavaleye M, Duineveld G (2012) Cold-water coral ecosystem (Tisler Reef, Norwegian Shelf) may be a hotspot for carbon cycling. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 465:11-23.

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