Nutrient pollution enhances productivity and framework dissolution in algae- but not in coral-dominated reef communities

Florian Roth, Yusuf C. El-Khaled, Denis B. Karcher, Nils Rädecker, Susana Carvalho, Carlos M. Duarte, Luis Silva, Maria Ll. Calleja, Xosé Anxelu G. Morán, Burton H. Jones, Christian R. Voolstra, Christian Wild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Ecosystem services provided by coral reefs may be susceptible to the combined effects of benthic species shifts and anthropogenic nutrient pollution, but related field studies are scarce. We thus investigated in situ how dissolved inorganic nutrient enrichment, maintained for two months, affected community-wide biogeochemical functions of intact coral- and degraded algae-dominated reef patches in the central Red Sea. Results from benthic chamber incubations revealed 87% increased gross productivity and a shift from net calcification to dissolution in algae-dominated communities after nutrient enrichment, but the same processes were unaffected by nutrients in neighboring coral communities. Both community types changed from net dissolved organic nitrogen sinks to sources, but the increase in net release was 56% higher in algae-dominated communities. Nutrient pollution may, thus, amplify the effects of community shifts on key ecosystem services of coral reefs, possibly leading to a loss of structurally complex habitats with carbonate dissolution and altered nutrient recycling.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112444
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
StatePublished - May 10 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-05-12
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the personnel from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Coastal and Marine Resources Core
(CMOR) Laboratory for logistical support. The authors would also like to acknowledge Rodrigo Villalobos, Joao ˜ Cúrdia and Miguel Viegas who helped during fieldwork, and Vincent Saderne who helped with the carbonate chemistry analysis. We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions and comments. The reefscape in Fig. 4 was produced by Xavier Pita, scientific illustrator at KAUST.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Pollution
  • Aquatic Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Nutrient pollution enhances productivity and framework dissolution in algae- but not in coral-dominated reef communities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this