Stable isotopic composition of deep sea gorgonian corals (Primnoa spp.): a new archive of surface processes.

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The deep-sea gorgonian coral Primnoa spp. lives in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at depths of 65-3200 m. This coral has an arborescent growth form with a skeletal axis composed of annual rings made from calcite and gorgonin. It has a lifespan of at least several hundred years. It has been suggested that isotopic profiles from the gorgonin fraction of the skeleton could be used to reconstruct long-term, annual-scale variations in surface productivity. We tested assumptions about the trophic level, intra-colony isotopic reproducibility, and preservation of isotopic signatures in a suite of modern and fossil specimens. Measurements of gorgonin {Delta}{sup ... continued below

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Sherwood, O A; Heikoop, J M; Scott, D B; Risk, M J; Guilderson, T P & McKinney, R A February 3, 2005.

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The deep-sea gorgonian coral Primnoa spp. lives in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at depths of 65-3200 m. This coral has an arborescent growth form with a skeletal axis composed of annual rings made from calcite and gorgonin. It has a lifespan of at least several hundred years. It has been suggested that isotopic profiles from the gorgonin fraction of the skeleton could be used to reconstruct long-term, annual-scale variations in surface productivity. We tested assumptions about the trophic level, intra-colony isotopic reproducibility, and preservation of isotopic signatures in a suite of modern and fossil specimens. Measurements of gorgonin {Delta}{sup 14}C and {delta}{sup 15}N indicate that Primnoa spp. feed mainly on zooplankton and/or sinking particulate organic matter (POM{sub SINK}), and not on suspended POM (POM{sub SUSP}) or dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Gorgonin {delta}{sup 13}C and {delta}{sup 15}N in specimens from NE Pacific shelf waters, NW Atlantic slope waters, the Sea of Japan, and a South Pacific (Southern Ocean sector) seamount were strongly correlated with Levitus 1994 surface apparent oxygen utilization (AOU; the best available measure of surface productivity), demonstrating coupling between skeletal isotopic ratios and biophysical processes in surface water. Time-series isotopic profiles from different sections along the same colony were identical for {delta}{sup 13}C, while {delta}{sup 15}N profiles became more dissimilar with increasing separation along the colony axis. Similarity in C:N, {delta}{sup 13}C and {delta}{sup 15}N between modern and fossil specimens suggest that isotopic signatures are preserved over millennial timescales. Finally, the utility of this new archive was demonstrated by reconstruction of 20th century bomb radiocarbon.

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PDF-file: 47 pages; size: 2.6 Mbytes

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  • Journal Name: Marine Ecology Progress Series; Journal Volume: 301

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  • Report No.: UCRL-JRNL-209438
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 875919
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc873454

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  • February 3, 2005

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  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • Dec. 2, 2016, 12:32 p.m.

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Sherwood, O A; Heikoop, J M; Scott, D B; Risk, M J; Guilderson, T P & McKinney, R A. Stable isotopic composition of deep sea gorgonian corals (Primnoa spp.): a new archive of surface processes., article, February 3, 2005; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc873454/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.