Marine Biology

, Volume 92, Issue 4, pp 457–464 | Cite as

Significance of pelagic bacteria as a trophic resource in a coral reef lagoon, One Tree Island, Great Barrier Reef

  • E. A. S. Linley
  • K. Koop


Bacterial numbers and frequency of dividing cells (FDC) were estimated in surface waters at seven stations along a transeet across One Tree lagoon and reefs at 2 h intervals over one tidal cycle in May 1984 and once a day on 8 d in December 1984/January 1985. Cell numbers ranged between 1.24 and 13.10x105 ml-1, with an overall mean value of 4.81x105. There was a progressive depletion in standing stock from windward to leeward stations across the lagoon, also reflected in the FDC, which generally showed similar dynamic patterns to cell numbers throughout the study. Predator-free seawater (filtered through 2 μm pore-size filters) and mucus-enriched incubations were also used to establish the relationship between the growth rate (μ) and FDC for coral-reef populations. Average growth rates predicted from FDC values ranged from 0.062 to 0.174 h-1, which is equivalent to doubling times of 5.74 to 16.00 h, with an overall mean value of 11.5 h. These fast doubling times suggest that bacteria respond rapidly to pulses of enrichment as they float over the lagoon and reefs, characteristically achieving about one doubling per tidal cycle. This probably ensures that the bulk of labile organic matter and dissolved nutrients is conserved within the immediate coral-reef environment. Estimates of bacterial production also suggest that they may contribute up to 40% of total picoplankton production and about 25% of total microplankton production. Pelagic bacteria are therefore potentially a major food resource for benthic filter-feeders, especially for those mainly dependent on the smaller (pico) components of the plankton.


Tidal Cycle Great Barrier Reef Labile Organic Matter Reef Lagoon Trophic Resource 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature cited

  1. Atkinson, M.: Phosphorus in coral reef ecosystems. In: Proceedings of the Great Barrier Reef Conference, pp 271–275. Ed. by J. T. Baker, R. M. Carter, P. W. Sammarco and K. P. Stark. Townsville, Qd.: James Cook University Press 1983Google Scholar
  2. Bratbak, G. and I. Dundas: Bacterial dry matter content and biomass estimations. Appl envirl Microbiol. 48, 755–757 (1984)Google Scholar
  3. Burns, D., C. Andrews, D. Craven, K. Orett, B. Pierce and D. Karl: Microbial biomass, rates of DNA synthesis and estimated carbon production in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Bull. mar. Sci. 34, 346–357 (1984)Google Scholar
  4. Coles, S. L. and R. Strathmann: Observations on coral mucus ‘flocs’ and their potential trophic significance. Limnol. Oceanogr. 18, 673–678 (1973)Google Scholar
  5. Crossland, C. J., D. J. Barnes and M. A. Borowitzka: Diurnal lipid and mucus production in the staghorn coral Acropora acuminato. Mar. Biol. 60, 81–90 (1980)Google Scholar
  6. Ducklow, H. W.: The production and biomass of bacteria in coral reefs. In: Ecosystems of the world, Ed. by Z. Dubinsky. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag (In press)Google Scholar
  7. Ducklow, H. W. and S. M. Hill: Tritiated thymidine incorporation and the growth of heterotrophic bacteria in warm core rings. Limnol. Oceanogr. 30, 260–272 (1985)Google Scholar
  8. Ducklow, H. W. and R. Mitchell: Composition of mucus released by coral reef coelenterates. Limnol. Oceanogr. 24, 706–714 (1979a)Google Scholar
  9. Ducklow, H. W. and R. Mitchell: Bacterial populations and adaptations in the mucus layers on living corals. Limnol. Oceanogr. 24, 715–725 (1979b)Google Scholar
  10. Entsch, B., K. G. Boto, R. G. Sim and J. T. Wellington: Phosphorus and nitrogen in coral reef sediments. Limnol. Oceanogr 28, 465–476 (1983)Google Scholar
  11. Fallon, R. D., S. Y. Newell and C. S. Hopkinson: Bacterial production in marine sediments: will cell-specific measures agree with whole-system metabolism? Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 11, 119–127 (1983)Google Scholar
  12. Ferguson, R. L., E. N. Buckley and A. V. Palumbo: Response of marine bacterioplankton to differential filtration and confinement. Appl. envirl Microbiol. 47, 49–55 (1984)Google Scholar
  13. Frith, C. A.: Circulation in a platform reef lagoon, One Tree Reef, southern Great Barrier Reef. Proc. 4th int. Symp. coral Reefs 1, 347–354 (1981) (Ed. by E. D. Gomez et al. Quezon City, Philippines: Marine Sciences Center, University of the Philippines)Google Scholar
  14. Fuhrman, J. A.: Influence of method on apparent size distribution of bacterioplankton cells: epifluorescence microscopy compared to scanning electron microscopy. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 5, 103–106 (1981)Google Scholar
  15. Gordon, D. C., R. O. Fournier and G. T. Krasnick: Note on planktonic primary production in Fanning Island lagoon. Pacif. Sci. 25, 228–233 (1971)Google Scholar
  16. Gottfried, M. and M. R. Roman: Ingestion and incorporation of coral-mucus detritus by reef zooplankton. Mar. Biol. 72, 211–218 (1983)Google Scholar
  17. Hagström, Å., U. Larsson, P. Hörstedt and S. Normark: Frequency of dividing cells, a new approach to the determination of bacterial growth rates in aquatic environments. Appl. envirl Microbiol. 37, 805–812 (1979)Google Scholar
  18. Hanson, R. B., D. Shafer, T. Ryan, D. H. Pope and H. K. Lowery Bacterioplankton in Antarctic Ocean waters during late austral winter: abundance, frequency of dividing cells and estimates of production. Appl. envirl Microbiol. 45, 1622–1632 (1983)Google Scholar
  19. Hatcher, B. G.: The role of detritus in the metabolism and secondary production of coral reef ecosystems. In: Proceedings of the Great Barrier Reef Conference, pp 317–324. Ed. by J. T. Baker, R. M. Carter, P. W. Sammarco and K. P. Stark. Townsville, Qd.: James Cook University Press 1983Google Scholar
  20. Hatcher, A. I. and B. G. Hatcher: Seasonal and spatial variation in dissolved inorganic nitrogen in One Tree reefs and lagoon. Proc. 4th int. Symp. coral Reefs 1, 421–424 (1981). (Ed. by E. D. Gomez et al. Quezon City, Philippines: Marine Sciences Center, University of the Philippines)Google Scholar
  21. Hobbie, J. E., R. J. Daley and S. Jasper: Use of Nuclepore filters for counting bacteria by epifluorescence microscopy. Appl. envirl Microbiol. 35, 1225–1228 (1977)Google Scholar
  22. Johnstone, R. W., K. Koop and A. W. D. Larkum: Fluxes of free ammonium between sediments and water in a coral reef lagoon. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. (In press)Google Scholar
  23. Landry, M. R., L. W. Haas and V. L. Fagerness: Dynamics of microbial plankton communities: experiments in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 16, 127–133 (1984)Google Scholar
  24. Larkum, A. W. D.: The primary productivity of plant communities on coral reefs. In: Perspectives on coral reefs, pp 221–230. Ed. by D. J. Barnes. Townsville, Qd.: Australian Institute of Marine Science 1983Google Scholar
  25. Linley, E. A. S. and R. C. Newell: Bacterial growth yields on plant detritus. Bull mar. Sci. 35, 409–425 (1985)Google Scholar
  26. Moriarty, D. J. W.: Biomass of suspended bacteria over coral reefs. Mar. Biol. 53, 193–200 (1979)Google Scholar
  27. Moriarty, D. J. W., P. C. Pollard and W. G. Hunt: Temporal and spatial variation in bacterial production in the water column over a coral reef. Mar. Biol. 85, 285–292 (1985)Google Scholar
  28. Newell, S. Y. and R. R. Christian: Frequency of dividing cells as an estimator of bacterial productivity. Appl. envirl Microbiol. 42, 23–31 (1981)Google Scholar
  29. Platt, T., D. V. Subba Rao and B. Irwin: Photosynthesis of picoplankton in the oligotrophic ocean. Nature, Lond. 301, 702–704 (1983)Google Scholar
  30. Richman, S., Y. Loya and L. B. Slobodkin: The rate of mucus production by corals and its assimilation by the coral reef copepod Acartia negligens. Limnol. Oceanogr. 20, 918–923 (1975)Google Scholar
  31. Smith, S. V.: Net production of coral reef ecosystems. In: The ecology of deep and shallow coral reefs. NOAA Symp. Ser. Undersea Res. 1, 127–131 (1983)Google Scholar
  32. Sorokin, Y. I.: Trophical role of bacteria in the ecosystem of the coral reef. Nature, Lond. 242, 415–416 (1973)Google Scholar
  33. Sorokin, Y. I.: Aspects of the biomass, feeding and metabolism of common corals of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Proc. 4th int. Symp. coral Reefs 2, 27–32 (1981). (Ed. by E. D. Gomez et al. Quezon City, Philippines: Marine Sciences Center, University of the Philippines)Google Scholar
  34. Spencer-Davies, P.: The role of zooxanthellae in the nutritional energy requirements of Pocillopora eydouxi. Coral Reefs 2, 181–186 (1984)Google Scholar
  35. Turley, C. M. and K. Lochte: Direct measurement of bacterial productivity in stratified waters close to a front in the Irish Sea. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 32, 209–219 (1985)Google Scholar
  36. Van Veen, J. and E. A. Paul. Conversion of biovolume measurements of soil organisms grown under various moisture tensions, to biomass and their nutrient content. Appl. envirl Microbiol. 37, 686–692 (1979)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. A. S. Linley
    • 1
  • K. Koop
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations