• calcium;
  • strontium;
  • coral reefs;
  • mesocosm


The coral reef mesocosms designed by the Smithsonian Institution's Dr. Walter Adey, his Marine System Laboratory personnel, and staff members of the Pittsburgh Aqua-Zoo simulate most of the physical, chemical, and biological parameters found in natural Caribbean coral reefs. After developing the mesocosm in Pittsburgh, an evaluation and comparison between natural reef seawater sources and closed mesocosm seawater conditions indicated that an additional parameter should be investigated. It was hypothesized that, given time, the aragonite- and calcite (CaCO3 crystal forms)-producing organisms in the closed mesocosms could deplete the seawater of available Ca2+ and substitutive Sr2+. Atomic absorption spectrophotometry was utilized to determine concentrations in the seawater over time. Results showed a substantial reduction in dissolved Ca and Sr in the mesocosm after approximately two years. Dissolved aragonitic Halimeda algae parts were put into the system for replacive purposes. In terms of the biogeochemical cycling of Ca2+ and Sr2+, the coral reef mesocosm organisms behaved similarly to natural reefs, which have a constant supply of dissolved Ca2+ and Sr2+. Further research utilizing radiolabeled sources of Ca2+, Sr2+, and Mg2+, in conjunction with in vivo scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and growth increment studies, are recommended for determining the exact biogeochemical pathways for these elements in coral reefs, and to quantify growth parameters. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.