Belshe, A.

Investigations of an unidentified benthic cyanobacterial species on Bonaire, N.A.

An unidentified benthic cyanobacterial species has been documented growing on the reef system of Bonaire, N.A. Despite their role as nitrogen fixers in marine environments, cyanobacteria may cause diseases or release toxins on coral reefs. This study used line-intercept transects at 7 sites and photographic mapping at one site on Bonaire to determine the distribution and growth patterns of the cyanobacteria. The cyanobacteria showed greatest concentration at depths of 30-18 m, with largest average patch size occurring at 27-18 m. It grows almost exclusively on old dead coral, and appears to overgrow live coral only in rare cases. Patch dynamics are quite stable against competitive substrates such as live coral, but if ideal substrates are present patches as large as 100 cm2 may form over two weeks. Further study is needed to determine the long-term effects of the growth of the cyanobacteria on live coral.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science II (Fall 2007)19: 37-40 from CIEE Bonaire.

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