Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Research explains near-island biological hotspots in barren ocean basins
by Staff Writers
Honolulu HI (SPX) Feb 17, 2016

This is a schematic showing factors involved in the Island Mass Effect. Image courtesy Gove, et al., 2016. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Coral reef islands and atolls in the Pacific are predominantly surrounded by vast areas of ocean that have very low nutrient levels and low ecological production. However, the ecosystems near these islands and atolls are often extremely productive and support an enhanced nearshore food-web, leading to an abundance of species and increased local fisheries.

An international team of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), University of Hawaii - Manoa (UHM), National Geographic Society, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Bangor University published a study in Nature Communications which provides the first basin-scale investigation of this paradoxical increase in productivity near coral reef islands and atolls - referred to as the 'Island Mass Effect'

"Surprisingly, scientists have historically known very little with respect to the prevalence, geographic variability, and drivers of this ecologically important phenomenon," said Dr. Jamison Gove, lead author of the study and research oceanographer at the Ecosystems and Oceanography Program of NOAA's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC).

Phytoplankton - the microscopic plants that live in sunlit seawater - form the base of the marine ecosystems, and dictate the distribution and production of fisheries in the Pacific and across the globe. Jamison Gove and colleagues studied 35 coral reef islands and atolls, using satellite imagery and ship-based surveys to assess the extent of the Island Mass Effect across the Pacific.

Their analysis showed that localized increases in nearshore phytoplankton biomass are a near-ubiquitous feature among locations surveyed, creating biological 'hotspots' across the Pacific.

"Important services that ecosystems provide to human populations, such as fisheries production, can be intrinsically linked to nearshore phytoplankton enhancement associated with the Island Mass Effect," said Dr. Margaret McManus, co-author of the study and oceanography professor at the UHM School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST).

The researchers further discovered that the strength of the Island Mass Effect varied between ecosystems, and that island type, sea-floor slope, reef area, and human habitation are the primary drivers of phytoplankton enhancement differences.

Overall, the scientists found that the Island Mass Effect enhances phytoplankton biomass up to 86% over offshore ocean conditions, providing increased food resources for higher trophic groups such as tuna and dolphins.

Although increased phytoplankton is often beneficial for these ecosystems, it can also lead to toxic algal blooms, increased fleshy (non-reef building) algal growth, and other negative impacts when associated with human activities. The ability to discern human- versus natural-driven changes in phytoplankton biomass is of great scientific interest and has important resource management implications.

"That humans can artificially elevate phytoplankton biomass - around entire islands - provides important context for the scale at which human activities on land can impact nearshore marine ecosystems." said Gove. "The goal now is to better characterize human activities and their respective influence on nearshore phytoplankton production so that we can develop effective strategies that mitigate future impacts"

Jamison M. Gove, Margaret A. McManus, Anna B. Neuheimer, Jeffrey J. Polovina, Jeffrey C. Drazen, Craig R. Smith, Mark A. Merrifield, Alan M. Friedlander, Julia S. Ehses, Charles W. Young, Amanda K. Dillon and Gareth J. Williams (2016). Near-island biological hotspots in barren ocean basins. Nature Communications


Related Links
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Testing detects algal toxins in Alaska marine mammals
Seattle WA (SPX) Feb 15, 2016
Toxins from harmful algae are present in Alaskan marine food webs in high enough concentrations to be detected in marine mammals such as whales, walruses, sea lions, seals, porpoises and sea otters, according to new research from NOAA and its federal, state, local and academic partners. The findings, reported online in the journal Harmful Algae, document a major northward expansion of the ... read more

Turkish warplanes enter Greek airspace ahead of NATO migration operation

Characterizing the smell of death may help rescue workers at disaster sites

Australian hospital refuses to return asylum baby to Nauru

Erdogan threatens to send refugees to EU as NATO steps in

Body temperature triggers newly developed polymer to change shape

Light used to measure the 'big stretch' in spider silk proteins

Making sense of metallic glass

Not your grandfather's house, but maybe it should be

Rising Seas Slowed by Increasing Water on Land

Southwest sliding into a drier climate

Study finds fish larvae are better off in groups

A global software solution for road, water and sewer repairs

150,000 Antarctica penguins die after iceberg grounding: study

How stable is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Clams help date duration of ancient methane seeps in the Arctic

Penguin parents: Inability to share roles increases their vulnerability to climate change

Kansas State University researchers staying ahead of wheat blast disease

DNA rice breakthrough raises 'green revolution' hopes

US inspectors ensure no nasty surprises on Valentine's Day

Market integration could help offset climate-related food insecurity

5.8-magnitude quake hits New Zealand city: USGS

One dead in Portugal floods as cyclist swept away

Tragic tales of loss in Taiwan as search for quake survivors ends

New app turns smartphones into worldwide seismic network

It takes more than a village to build a house

DR Congo announces ivory trafficking arrests

Gloom hangs over African mining as China growth slows

Sudan names new military chief amid Darfur clashes: ministry

Neanderthal DNA has subtle but significant impact on human traits

Changes in dwellings impact microbe exposure for human immune system

Early human ancestor did not have the jaws of a nutcracker

Wirelessly supplying power to brain

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.