Coral Reefs

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 649–659 | Cite as

Organic matter release by dominant hermatypic corals of the Northern Red Sea

  • M. S. NaumannEmail author
  • A. Haas
  • U. Struck
  • C. Mayr
  • M. el-Zibdah
  • C. Wild


Particulate organic matter (POM) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) release by six dominant hermatypic coral genera (Acropora, Fungia, Goniastrea, Millepora, Pocillopora and Stylophora) were measured under undisturbed conditions by laboratory incubations during four seasonal expeditions to the Northern Red Sea. In addition, the influence of environmental factors (water temperature, light availability and ambient inorganic nutrient concentrations) was evaluated. Particulate organic carbon (POC) and particulate nitrogen (PN) release were always detectable and genus-specific, with Stylophora releasing most POM (6.5 mg POC and 0.5 mg PN m−2 coral surface area h−1) during all seasons. The fire coral Millepora released significantly less POM (0.3 mg POC and 0.04 mg PN m−2 coral surface area h−1) than all investigated anthozoan genera. The average POC:PN ratio of POM released by all coral genera was 12 ± 1, indicating high carbon/low nitrogen content of coral-derived organic matter. POM release showed little seasonal variation, but average values of POC and PN release rates correlated with water temperature, light availability and ambient nitrate concentrations. DOC net release and elevated DOC:POC ratios were detectable for Acropora, Goniastrea and Millepora, revealing maximum values for Acropora (30.7 mg DOC m−2 coral surface area h−1), whilst predominant DOC uptake was observed for Pocillopora, Fungia and Stylophora. Depth-mediated light availability influenced DOC fluxes of Acropora and Fungia, while fluctuations in water temperature and ambient inorganic nutrient concentrations showed no correlation. These comprehensive data provide an important basis for the understanding of coral reef organic matter dynamics and relevant environmental factors.


Hermatypic corals Organic matter Release Uptake Red Sea 



The authors are grateful to M. Khalaf and the late Y. Ahmed (Marine Science Station, Aqaba, Jordan); C. Jantzen, F. Mayer, W. Niggl and C. Walcher (CORE, München) for technical and logistical support. C. Williamson (CORE, München) helped to improve the language of the manuscript. We thank the editor Dr. Clay Cook and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. This study was supported by German Research Foundation (DFG) grant Wi 2677/2-1 to C.W.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. S. Naumann
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. Haas
    • 1
  • U. Struck
    • 2
  • C. Mayr
    • 3
  • M. el-Zibdah
    • 4
  • C. Wild
    • 1
  1. 1.Coral Reef Ecology Work Group (CORE), GeoBio-Center & Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesLudwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenMünchenGermany
  2. 2.Museum für NaturkundeHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.GeoBio-Center & Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesLudwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenMünchenGermany
  4. 4.Marine Science Station AqabaUniversity of Jordan and Yarmouk UniversityAqabaJordan

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