HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

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Light-Use Efficiency of Coral-Reef Communities: A Sensitivity Analysis Using an Optically Based Model of Reef Productivity and Calcification

Defense Date


Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Eric J. Hochberg

Second Advisor

Bernhard Riegl

Third Advisor

Robert Van Woesik


Biogeochemical processes of reefs have been studied for over fifty years, however, information is still lacking on several fundamental reef processes. This lack of information has been limited essentially by techniques that cannot repeatedly sample large spatial areas. These limitations can be reduced with the use of an optical model to estimate biogeochemical processes. This project applied Monteith's light-use efficiency model to coral reef communities for determining photosynthetic and calcification efficiency of light. Gross primary production and net calcification were pooled from the peer-reviewed literature to calculate efficiency. Process efficiency was then compared across functional types of reef communities (i.e., coral, algae/seagrasses, mixed, and sand), and by year, location, season, and depth. Photosynthetic efficiency was calculated from 19 studies, showing an average of 0.039 mol O2 mol-1 photons. Photosynthetic efficiency differed significantly for mixed communities between studies, and for algae/seagrass communities among depths. Calcification efficiency averaged at 0.007 mol CaCO3 mol-1 photons. Significant differences were found in calcification efficiency of algae/seagrasses and mixed reef communities among studies and localities. Additionally, calcification efficiency of algae/seagrasses varied significantly in accordance with depth. Future use of the light-use efficiency model will require determining the efficiency of each functional type to estimate gross production and calcification. Additionally, further investigation of the light-use efficiency model will require long-term measurements of APAR, which is the fraction of incident light absorbed, and the incorporation of environmental parameters that reduce efficiency.

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