Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hidden sponges determine coral reef’s nutrient cycle

16.09.2005


Marine organisms hidden in caves, such as sponges, play an extremely important role in the nutrient cycle of coral reefs. Indeed they probably play the most important role of all, says Dutch biologist Sander Scheffers. And that is valuable information for nature conservationists who want to preserve the coral reefs.



In order to protect coral reefs it is important to understand how both the reefs and their environment function. Researchers often concentrate on subjects such as physical damage to reefs, the bleaching of coral and coral diseases. Sander Scheffers investigated a lesser-studied subject: the nutrient cycle on the coral reef and the role that organisms living in cavities, such as sponges, play in this.

Underwater camera


To determine the nature and size of this role, Scheffers first of all examined the precise appearance and quantity of these virtually inaccessible caves and their living communities. He did that on the Caribbean island of Curaçao using a special underwater camera. The films shot revealed that sponges were the most important inhabitants, followed by animals such as tube worms, tunicates and bivalves. Together they fill more than 60 percent of the cavities. Further the cavities were found to have a surface area eight times greater than that of the coral reef, as seen from above by divers.

Filterers

And according to Scheffers a larger living surface also means a larger filtering surface. Sponges filter the water. They take up planktonic particles such as bacteria and excrete inorganic nutrients. In turn, these nutrients can facilitate the growth of marine plants and other organisms.

Sponges filter at a phenomenal rate: if the seawater were to remain stationary, the sponges would have completely pumped it away within five minutes, i.e. they would have removed all of the small plankton from it. This is of course not the case, as there is a continuous supply of fresh water into the sea. According to Scheffers, these hidden organisms play a key role in the marine nutrient cycle due to their incredible capacity to convert enormous quantities of organic plankton into inorganic material.

The results from Scheffers’ research have been made available to the personnel from the Marine under water park of Curaçao and have been presented to the local government.

Sander Scheffers’ research was funded by NWO-WOTRO.

Dr Sander Scheffers | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nwo.nl/nwohome.nsf/pages/NWOP_6FRGRC_Eng

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Osaka university researchers make the slipperiest surfaces adhesive

18.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>