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Sources of organic matter in an atypical phytoplankton rich coral ecosystem, Marquesas Islands: composition and properties

Abstract

The purpose of this work is to characterize several potential sources of organic matter (OM) in the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, and to understand how these sources contribute to OM pools. Stable isotope (δ13C and δ15N) and fatty acid (FA) compositions of OM potential sources (algal turf, benthic macroalgae, detrital terrestrial plants (DTP), phytoplankton) and OM pools (sediment (SOM) and particulate organic matter (POM)) were studied in coastal areas in Nuku Hiva Island. Isotope compositions of marine POM (δ13C = − 22.5 ± 0.8 ‰; δ15N = 12.1 ± 1.1 ‰) and SOM (δ13C = − 19.1 ± 0.9 ‰; δ15N = 14.4 ± 0.5 ‰) highlighted that OM sources at the base of the local food web had unusually high δ15N values. Potential FA markers of diatoms and/or cyanobacteria (20:5ω3 and 16:1ω7) were found in these two OM pools. In addition, coastal SOM also displayed FA markers of bacteria, macroalgae and terrestrial plants. For marine POM, potential macroalgae FA markers were recorded (18:2ω6 and 16:2ω4). The stable isotope mixing model highlighted the major contribution of phytoplankton to the coastal SOM (62%), followed by benthic macroalgae (32%), whereas marine POM was mainly composed of a mixture of algal turf and phytoplankton in similar averaged proportions (38%) but presenting wide variations. Our results as a whole strongly suggest that pelagic-benthic coupled processes drive the characteristics and properties of OM sources.

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Data Availability Statement

Data were avalaible on demand to the first and/or the corresponding author.

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Acknowledgements

This work is a part of the first author’s PhD work, funded by the LabEx “Corail” (project RETROMAR). We would like to thank the Centre Plongée Marquises (X. Curvat “Pipapo”, J. Augereau, M. Edragas and D. Taupotini), the Délégation à la Recherche de la Polynésie française, the mayor and people of Nuku Hiva for their support. We are also grateful to C. Berthe, F. Boulileret, R. Sauze, D. Lecchini and M. Taquet for their field assistance. We thank the staff of the CRIOBE for logistical support and laboratory assistance, especially C. Sidobre, and B. Espiau, and N. Thiney for her invaluable help for FAs analyses in Paris, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle. Thanks to M. Paul, a native English-speaker, for improving the English of the article. Gaël Guillou is acknowledged for running stable isotope analyses. We also thank the anonymous referees for their useful and constructive comments that allowed us to improve the article.

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Correspondence to Y. Letourneur.

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This research received no specific grant from any funding agency, commercial or not-profit sectors. The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest. No benthic/coral habitat was disturbed during this research. Because this work did not use animals, no international, national, local and/or institutional guidelines for sampling was applicable.

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Fey, P., Parravicini, V., Lebreton, B. et al. Sources of organic matter in an atypical phytoplankton rich coral ecosystem, Marquesas Islands: composition and properties. Mar Biol 167, 92 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-020-03703-z

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