Carbon isotopic fractionation on coral reef related to benthic community composition

David Koweek samples coral on One Tree Island, photo: Aaron Ninokawa

Using carbon stable isotopes to track coral reef metabolism, David Koweek, along with Ken Caldeira and former Carnegie postdocs Rebecca Albright and Yui Takeshita, looked at how carbon isotopic fractionation on a coral reef can be related to the benthic community composition. They found that different mixtures of coral and algae result in differing degrees of isotopic fractionation.  The ultimate goal of this kind of work is to expand the suite of biogeochemical tracers we have for tracking metabolic activity on coral reefs. 

This work was conducted during a Carnegie expedition to One Tree Island in 2016, the same expedition that resulted in our 2018  Nature paper on the effects of ocean acidification on coral reefs