Trophic functioning of the Tiahura reef sector, Moorea Island, French Polynesia
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Energy-balanced steady-state models of the fringing and barrier reefs of Tiahura, Moorea Island, French Polynesia, are presented. A total of 43 and 46 trophic groups were identified on the two reef habitats respectively. The models’ outputs indicate that most of the substantial primary productivity is processed and recycled (59–69% of NPP) in the web through detritus based, microbially mediated food webs, with a substantial but secondary flux through grazer-based webs. This mechanism produces long pathways with low trophic efficiencies at the higher trophic levels. The trophic structure of both reef habitats efficiently conserves energy and materials within the reef ecosystem through two forms of internal recycling: a relatively large cycle produced through detritus and a microbial food web, and a relatively short one directly produced through predation. The models outputs suggest that bottom-up and top-down control are each ecologically important in both reef habitats.
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