Stable nitrogen isotopes in octocorals as an indicator of water quality decline from the northwestern region of Cuba

Néstor Rey-Villiers, Alberto Sánchez, Patricia González-Díaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Eutrophication is one of the causes of the degradation of reefs worldwide. The aim of this research is to determine if sewage discharge reaches the fore reefs at northwest of Cuba using δ15N in tissues of the octocorals Eunicea flexuosa and Plexaura kuekenthali and the concentration of microbiological and physical-chemical variables. Thirteen reefs at 10-m depth were selected near river basins and far from the urban and industrial development of Havana City. Branch tips of both species were collected, the concentrations of nutrient and microorganisms in water samples were quantified, and horizontal visibility in the water (Vis) was determined. Overall, δ15N of E. flexuosa ranged from 1.5 to 6.3‰ and P. kuekenthali from 1.7 to 6.7‰. The tissue of both species was significantly enriched in 15N in reefs near polluted watersheds compared with reefs far from pollution by anthropogenic activities. The δ15N of both species showed a positive and significant correlation with the concentration of fecal and total coliform bacteria, heterotrophic bacteria, and NH4+ and a negative and significant correlation with the Vis. The δ15N of the two species and microbiological and physical-chemical variables evidenced water quality decline by sewage discharge that reached reefs near polluted watersheds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18457-18470
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Volume28
Issue number15
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • Coral reefs
  • Eunicea flexuosa
  • Eutrophication
  • Plexaura kuekenthali
  • Sewage discharge
  • Stable nitrogen isotopes

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