Nitrogen Fixation (Acetylene Reduction) in Shallow Water Bahamian Environments
Abstract:A survey of in situ nitrogen fixation (N2 fixation) associated with shallow water (to 6 m) marine environments was conducted at New Providence Island, the Bahamas. The acetylene reduction technique was used to assay N2 fixation rates of mats of blue-green algae epiphytic on seagrasses and macroalgae and epilithic on rock, sand and coral rubble. Intertidal beachrock, Thalassia (turtle grass), and the macroalga Acanthrophora were the most active of 22 substrates tested. Analysis of the variance associated with zone and habitat means is used to compare coral reef and algae-dominated areas. A fringing reef site was more active than a small patch reef, while both had lower rates of N2 fixation than an algal flat containing Thalassia beds.
Nitrogen fixation rates were highly variable, probably reflecting patchy epiphyte distribution. This variability causes measurement difficulties (especially on reefs without unidirectional current fiow) in addition to those associated with the conversion of ethylene reduced to nitrogen fixed. Considering these, an approach is suggested with which realistic rates for whole reef systems may be obtained.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: April 1, 1980
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