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Near-island biological hotspots in barren ocean basins
Gove, J.M.; McManus, M.A.; Neuheimer, A.B.; Polovina, J.; Drazen, J.C.; Smith, C.R.; Merrifield, M.A.; Friedlander, A.M.; Ehses, J.S.; Young, C.W.; Dillon, A.K.; Williams, G.J. (2016). Near-island biological hotspots in barren ocean basins. Nature Comm. 7(10581): 8 pp.
In: Nature Communications. Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2041-1723, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Authors  Top 
  • Gove, J.M.
  • McManus, M.A.
  • Neuheimer, A.B.
  • Polovina, J.
  • Drazen, J.C.
  • Smith, C.R.
  • Merrifield, M.A.
  • Friedlander, A.M.
  • Ehses, J.S.
  • Young, C.W.
  • Dillon, A.K.
  • Williams, G.J.

    Phytoplankton production drives marine ecosystem trophic-structure and global fisheries yields. Phytoplankton biomass is particularly influential near coral reef islands and atolls that span the oligotrophic tropical oceans. The paradoxical enhancement in phytoplankton near an island-reef ecosystem—Island Mass Effect (IME)—was first documented 60 years ago, yet much remains unknown about the prevalence and drivers of this ecologically important phenomenon. Here we provide the first basin-scale investigation of IME. We show that IME is a near-ubiquitous feature among a majority (91%) of coral reef ecosystems surveyed, creating near-island ‘hotspots’ of phytoplankton biomass throughout the upper water column. Variations in IME strength are governed by geomorphic type (atoll vs island), bathymetric slope, reef area and local human impacts (for example, human-derived nutrient input). These ocean oases increase nearshore phytoplankton biomass by up to 86% over oceanic conditions, providing basal energetic resources to higher trophic levels that support subsistence-based human populations.

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