Fluxes of Material and Energy between Coral Reefs and the Open Sea
The REEFLUX project is a multidisciplinary oceanographic research effort aimed at understanding the high productivity of coral reefs in oligotrophic water. The working hypothesis states that the main source of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) for reef productivity is Zooplankton transport from the open sea. Zooplankton is filtered from seawater by the reef community (corals, filter feeders, planktonivorous fish, and others). The digestion products in the form of ammonia nitrate and phosphate are used by the primary producers (symbionts, free living algae, and microalgae) to maintain the very high photosynthesis rates observed. Excess nutrients may “leak” from the reef towards the open sea to support its primary production.