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Evaluation of Mn and Fe in coral skeletons (Porites spp.) as proxies for sediment loading and reconstruction of 50 yrs of land use on Ishigaki Island, Japan

Abstract

Manganese (Mn) and iron (Fe) concentrations were measured in coral skeletons (Porites spp.) collected from the Todoroki River on Ishigaki Island, Japan, to reconstruct the history of land use in the river catchment area. We prepared (1) five bulk samples to investigate the present spatial distribution and (2) micro-samples from two long cores to study the temporal variability of sediment loading from the Todoroki River. The existing state of the elements Mn and Fe in bulk coral skeleton samples was examined by a chemical cleaning experiment. The results of the experiment suggested that Fe was not incorporated into the crystal lattice of the coral skeleton but that Mn was incorporated, as previously reported. The bulk sample data, with and without chemical cleaning, indicated that the spatial distribution of both elements in corals collected along a sampling line from the river mouth toward the reef crest was complex and most likely reflected salinity changes and the amount of suspended particulate matter. The temporal variation of Mn and Fe, in particular the variation of baseline/background levels, mainly reflected the history of land development on Ishigaki Island. In addition, Mn showed clear seasonal variability that appeared to be controlled by a combination of temperature, primary productivity, and precipitation. The results of the present study suggest that Mn may be a useful proxy for river discharge or biological activity depending on local marine conditions, if the specific behavior of Mn at the coral growth site is known.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank Y. Yoshinaga for assisting in the preparation of subsamples. The research was funded by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas ‘Coral reef science for symbiosis and coexistence of human and ecosystem under combined stresses’ (#20121004) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Japan.

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Correspondence to Mayuri Inoue.

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Inoue, M., Ishikawa, D., Miyaji, T. et al. Evaluation of Mn and Fe in coral skeletons (Porites spp.) as proxies for sediment loading and reconstruction of 50 yrs of land use on Ishigaki Island, Japan. Coral Reefs 33, 363–373 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-014-1128-3

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Keywords

  • Sediment loading
  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Coral skeleton
  • Cleaning experiment