Benthic shift in a Solomon Islands' lagoon : corals to cyanobacteria

Simon, Albert, Dunbabin, Matthew, Skinner, Mark, Moore, Brad, & Grinham, Alistair (2012) Benthic shift in a Solomon Islands' lagoon : corals to cyanobacteria. In Yellowlees, D. & Hughes, T. P. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia , pp. 1-5.

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Abstract

In June 2011 a large phytoplankton bloom resulted in a catastrophic mortality event that affected a large coastal embayment in the Solomon Islands. This consisted of an area in excess of 20 km2 of reef and soft sandy habitats in Marovo Lagoon, the largest double barrier lagoon in the world. This embayment is home to over 1200 people leading largely subsistence lifestyles depending on the impacted reefs for majority of their protein needs. A toxic diatom (Psuedo-nitzchia spp.) and toxic dinoflagellate (Pyrodinium bahamense var. compressum) reached concentrations of millions of cells per litre. The senescent phytoplankton bloom led to complete de-oxygenation of the water column that reportedly caused substantial mortality of marine animal life in the immediate area within a rapid timeframe (24 h). Groups affected included holothurians, crabs and reef and pelagic fish species. Dolphins, reptiles and birds were also found dead within the area, indicating algal toxin accumulation in the food chain. Deep reefs and sediments, whilst initially unaffected, have now been blanketed in large cyanobacterial mats which have negatively impacted live coral cover especially within the deep reef zone (> 6 m depth). Reef recovery within the deep zone has been extremely slow and may indicate an alternative state for the system.

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ID Code: 68810
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Cyanobacteria, Phase shift, Algal bloom
ISBN: 9780980857252
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 The authors
Copyright Statement: Authors of the papers in the Proceedings retain copyright over their work
Deposited On: 20 Mar 2014 00:26
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2014 22:57

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