GEOGRAPHY

Chinese scholars put forward the concept of “coral reef ecological pump”


Recently, the team of Tan Yehui of the “Chen Qingchao Chao Chasing Dream Deep Blue Commando” of the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (hereinafter referred to as the South China Sea Oceanographic Institute) summarized the ecological functions of coral reef ecosystems in gathering and absorbing external nutrients, maintaining and recycling internal nutrients, and efficiently exporting organic carbon, and proposed the concept of “coral reef ecological pump”. The study was published online in the Oceanographic Journal as a cover paper.

Cover of the current issue. Photo courtesy of the research team

Huang Liangmin, corresponding author of the paper and researcher of the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, found that the coral reef ecosystem has the characteristics of efficient use of nutrients and high photosynthetic efficiency in the study of biological productivity in Nansha Islands, so as to propose the concept of “coral reef efficient nutrient ecological pump”. On the basis of continuing previous research, the research team continuously summarizes the latest research results on external nutrient and organic matter input and the high productivity of coral reefs and their surrounding water bodies, and proposes the concept of “coral reef ecological pump” on the basis of “coral reef efficient nutrient ecological pump”.

“The concept of ‘coral reef ecological pump’ provides a new theoretical framework for understanding the function of coral reef ecosystems and their maintenance mechanisms.” Tan Yehui, corresponding author of the paper and researcher at the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, said that the “coral reef ecological pump” is to point out that just like water supports oases in the desert, coral reef ecosystems in barren tropical oceans have the functions of multi-pathway replenishment and efficient recycling of nutrients, as well as considerable input and output of organic matter.

“Coral reef ecological pump” gathers nutrients and exports carbon schematics. Photo courtesy of the research team

“The new concept explains that external nutrients and organic matter can be fed into coral reef ecosystems through multiple inputs, and that coral reef ecosystems can efficiently maintain and recycle nutrients, in addition to supporting the high productivity of local benthic communities, but also radiate to support the formation of high productivity and biomass in surrounding water plankton communities, making them potential hotspots for organic carbon export to the deep sea.” Tan Yehui said.

The study also focuses on the importance of organic matter input to the carbon balance and efficient carbon output functions of coral reef ecosystems, providing strong evidence to answer the “Darwinian paradox”. At the same time, the future priority direction of “coral reef ecological pump research” is proposed, which provides an important scientific basis for further in-depth study of the stable maintenance mechanism, ecological service function and role of coral reef ecosystem in changing oceans. (Source: China Science News, Zhu Hanbin, Xie Wenyan)

Related paper information:http://aos.manuscripts.cn/cn/article/doi/10.1007/s13131-022-2130-1



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