Land-based Nutrient Enrichment of the Buccoo Reef Complex and Fringing Coral Reefs of Tobago, West Indies

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Coral reef, Macroalgae, Eutrophication, Sewage, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Orinoco River, Tobago, Nutrient pollution, Remote sensing

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Tobago’s fringing coral reefs (FR) and Buccoo Reef Complex (BRC) can be affected locally by wastewater and stormwater, and regionally by the Orinoco River. In 2001, seasonal effects of these inputs on water-column nutrients and phytoplankton (Chl a), macroalgal C:N:P and δ15N values, and biocover at FR and BRC sites were examined. Dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN, particularly ammonium) increased and soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) decreased from the dry to wet season. Wet season satellite and Chl a data showed that Orinoco runoff reaching Tobago contained chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) but little Chl a, suggesting minimal riverine nutrient transport to Tobago. C:N ratios were lower (16 vs. 21) and macroalgal δ15N values higher (6.6‰ vs. 5.5‰) in the BRC vs. FR, indicating relatively more wastewater N in the BRC. High macroalgae and low coral cover in the BRC further indicated that better wastewater treatment could improve the health of Tobago’s coral reefs.

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Marine Pollution Bulletin, v. 60, issue 3, p. 334-343