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Trophic model of lagoonal communities in a large open atoll (Uvea, Loyalty islands, New Caledonia)*

  • Yves-Marie Bozec (a1) (a2), Didier Gascuel (a1) and Michel Kulbicki (a2)

A mass-balanced trophic model was developed for the coral reef lagoon of Uvea atoll (New Caledonia) using the Ecopath software. The model accounts for both pelagic and soft-bottom communities to describe the whole trophic structure and biomass flows in the shallowest part of the atoll lagoon. Phytoplankton production approximately equals the benthic primary production. Benthic biomass accounts for more than 80% of the total living biomass in the shallow lagoon. The benthic domain requires input of food from the pelagic system (mainly zooplankton) and from adjacent areas to sustain the biomass of predatory fishes. Predation pressure was found to be a major force structuring the food web, but it is also suggested that water circulation within the lagoon influences the amount of primary resources, such as plankton, benthic microphytes and detritus.

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