coral reef assessment: Topics by Science.gov

  • Coral calcification and reef development under natural disturbances

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wall, M.; Schmidt, G. M.; Khokkiatiwong, S.; Richter, C.

    2012-04-01

    Corals are impressive ecosystem engineers shaping and influencing tropical shallow water environments through their complex carbonate framework. Calcification a key physiological process determining coral growth and reef development, is highly dependent on constant environmental conditions, especially temperature, aragonite saturation and pH. However, not in all reef areas such constant and stable conditons can be found. Coral reefs located in the Andaman Sea off the western Thai coast are subjected to large amplitude internal waves (LAIW), which induce strong oscillations in several physical and chemical environmental parameters and hence, offer the possibility to study the influence of fluctuating conditions on coral reefs. Characteristics of these oscillations as well as reef framework development have been studied on reefs of five islands, which are exposed to LAIW along their western sides and LAIW-sheltered on their eastern sides. LAIW reach these shallow water reef areas all year round, however, strongest fluctuations were recorded during the dry season (November to May) with temperature drops of up to 8°C and pH values ranging from 8.22-7.90. Several (up to 12) sudden changes in environmental conditions can occur during a day, which differ in intensity and duration. Salinity, pH and oxygen are well correlated with changes in temperature and thus, temperature variability calculated as degree days cooling (DDC) was used as proxy for the complex set of environmental variability. This proxy enabled us to combine frequency and intensity of disturbances in one value and allowed for ranking each study location according to the severity of LAIW disturbances. Framework height was found to be clearly reduced in areas exposed to LAIW compared to the complex three-dimensional carbonate framework in the LAIW-sheltered reefs. Moreover, it showed a strong linear correlation with DDC (Rsqr=0.732, p=0.007) indicating the negative effect of pulsed disturbances on coral reef

  • Sewage pollution: mitigation is key for coral reef stewardship.

    PubMed

    Wear, Stephanie L; Thurber, Rebecca Vega

    2015-10-01

    Coral reefs are in decline worldwide, and land-derived sources of pollution, including sewage, are a major force driving that deterioration. This review presents evidence that sewage discharge occurs in waters surrounding at least 104 of 112 reef geographies. Studies often refer to sewage as a single stressor. However, we show that it is more accurately characterized as a multiple stressor. Many of the individual agents found within sewage, specifically freshwater, inorganic nutrients, pathogens, endocrine disrupters, suspended solids, sediments, and heavy metals, can severely impair coral growth and/or reproduction. These components of sewage may interact with each other to create as-yet poorly understood synergisms (e.g., nutrients facilitate pathogen growth), and escalate impacts of other, non-sewage-based stressors. Surprisingly few published studies have examined impacts of sewage in the field, but those that have suggest negative effects on coral reefs. Because sewage discharge proximal to sensitive coral reefs is widespread across the tropics, it is imperative for coral reef-focused institutions to increase investment in threat-abatement strategies for mitigating sewage pollution. © 2015 The Authors. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences published by Wiley Periodicals Inc. on behalf of The New York Academy of Sciences.

  • Energetic differences between bacterioplankton trophic groups and coral reef resistance

    PubMed Central

    McDole Somera, Tracey; Bailey, Barbara; Barott, Katie; Grasis, Juris; Hatay, Mark; Hilton, Brett J.; Hisakawa, Nao; Nosrat, Bahador; Nulton, James; Silveira, Cynthia B.; Sullivan, Chris; Brainard, Russell E.; Rohwer, Forest

    2016-01-01

    Coral reefs are among the most productive and diverse marine ecosystems on the Earth. They are also particularly sensitive to changing energetic requirements by different trophic levels. Microbialization specifically refers to the increase in the energetic metabolic demands of microbes relative to macrobes and is significantly correlated with increasing human influence on coral reefs. In this study, metabolic theory of ecology is used to quantify the relative contributions of two broad bacterioplankton groups, autotrophs and heterotrophs, to energy flux on 27 Pacific coral reef ecosystems experiencing human impact to varying degrees. The effective activation energy required for photosynthesis is lower than the average energy of activation for the biochemical reactions of the Krebs cycle, and changes in the proportional abundance of these two groups can greatly affect rates of energy and materials cycling. We show that reef-water communities with a higher proportional abundance of microbial autotrophs expend more metabolic energy per gram of microbial biomass. Increased energy and materials flux through fast energy channels (i.e. water-column associated microbial autotrophs) may dampen the detrimental effects of increased heterotrophic loads (e.g. coral disease) on coral reef systems experiencing anthropogenic disturbance. PMID:27097927

  • Energetic differences between bacterioplankton trophic groups and coral reef resistance.

    PubMed

    McDole Somera, Tracey; Bailey, Barbara; Barott, Katie; Grasis, Juris; Hatay, Mark; Hilton, Brett J; Hisakawa, Nao; Nosrat, Bahador; Nulton, James; Silveira, Cynthia B; Sullivan, Chris; Brainard, Russell E; Rohwer, Forest

    2016-04-27

    Coral reefs are among the most productive and diverse marine ecosystems on the Earth. They are also particularly sensitive to changing energetic requirements by different trophic levels. Microbialization specifically refers to the increase in the energetic metabolic demands of microbes relative to macrobes and is significantly correlated with increasing human influence on coral reefs. In this study, metabolic theory of ecology is used to quantify the relative contributions of two broad bacterioplankton groups, autotrophs and heterotrophs, to energy flux on 27 Pacific coral reef ecosystems experiencing human impact to varying degrees. The effective activation energy required for photosynthesis is lower than the average energy of activation for the biochemical reactions of the Krebs cycle, and changes in the proportional abundance of these two groups can greatly affect rates of energy and materials cycling. We show that reef-water communities with a higher proportional abundance of microbial autotrophs expend more metabolic energy per gram of microbial biomass. Increased energy and materials flux through fast energy channels (i.e. water-column associated microbial autotrophs) may dampen the detrimental effects of increased heterotrophic loads (e.g. coral disease) on coral reef systems experiencing anthropogenic disturbance. © 2016 The Author(s).

  • Depth and coral cover drive the distribution of a coral macroborer across two reef systems.

    PubMed

    Maher, Rebecca L; Johnston, Michelle A; Brandt, Marilyn E; Smith, Tyler B; Correa, Adrienne M S

    2018-01-01

    Bioerosion, the removal of calcium carbonate from coral frameworks by living organisms, influences a variety of reef features, from their topographic complexity to the net balance of carbonate budgets. Little is known, however, about how macroborers, which bore into reef substrates leaving traces greater than 0.1 mm diameter, are distributed across coral reefs, particularly reef systems with high (>50%) stony coral cover or at mesophotic depths (≥30 m). Here, we present an accurate and efficient method for quantifying macroborer densities from stony coral hosts via image analysis, using the bioeroding barnacle, Lithotrya dorsalis, and its host coral, Orbicella franksi, as a case study. We found that in 2014, L. dorsalis densities varied consistently with depth and host percent cover in two Atlantic reef systems: the Flower Garden Banks (FGB, northwest Gulf of Mexico) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Although average barnacle density was nearly 4.5 times greater overall in the FGB than in the USVI, barnacle density decreased with depth in both reef regions. Barnacle density also scaled negatively with increasing coral cover in the study areas, suggesting that barnacle populations are not strictly space-limited in their distribution and settlement opportunities. Our findings suggest that depth and host coral cover, and potentially, local factors may strongly influence the abundance of macroborers, and thus the rate of CaCO3 loss, in a given reef system. Our image analysis method for quantifying macroborers can be standardized across historical and modern reef records to better understand how borers impact host growth and reef health.

  • Microbial to reef scale interactions between the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and benthic algae.

    PubMed

    Barott, Katie L; Rodriguez-Mueller, Beltran; Youle, Merry; Marhaver, Kristen L; Vermeij, Mark J A; Smith, Jennifer E; Rohwer, Forest L

    2012-04-22

    Competition between reef-building corals and benthic algae is of key importance for reef dynamics. These interactions occur on many spatial scales, ranging from chemical to regional. Using microprobes, 16S rDNA pyrosequencing and underwater surveys, we examined the interactions between the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and four types of benthic algae. The macroalgae Dictyota bartayresiana and Halimeda opuntia, as well as a mixed consortium of turf algae, caused hypoxia on the adjacent coral tissue. Turf algae were also associated with major shifts in the bacterial communities at the interaction zones, including more pathogens and virulence genes. In contrast to turf algae, interactions with crustose coralline algae (CCA) and M. annularis did not appear to be antagonistic at any scale. These zones were not hypoxic, the microbes were not pathogen-like and the abundance of coral-CCA interactions was positively correlated with per cent coral cover. We propose a model in which fleshy algae (i.e. some species of turf and fleshy macroalgae) alter benthic competition dynamics by stimulating bacterial respiration and promoting invasion of virulent bacteria on corals. This gives fleshy algae a competitive advantage over corals when human activities, such as overfishing and eutrophication, remove controls on algal abundance. Together, these results demonstrate the intricate connections and mechanisms that structure coral reefs.

  • Coral reef fish assemblages along a disturbance gradient in the northern Persian Gulf: A seasonal perspective.

    PubMed

    Ghazilou, Amir; Shokri, Mohammad Reza; Gladstone, William

    2016-04-30

    Seasonal dynamics of coral reef fish assemblages were assessed along a gradient of potential anthropogenic disturbance in the Northern Persian Gulf. Overall, the attributes of coral reef fish assemblages showed seasonality at two different levels: seasonal changes irrespective of the magnitude of disturbance level (e.g. species richness), and seasonal changes in response to disturbance level (e.g. total abundance and assemblage composition). The examined parameters mostly belonged to the second group, but the interpretation of the relationship between patterns of seasonal changes and the disturbance level was not straightforward. The abundance of carnivorous fishes did not vary among seasons. SIMPER identified the family Nemipteridae as the major contributor to the observed spatiotemporal variations in the composition of coral reef fish assemblages in the study area. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  • Florida Integrated Science Center (FISC) Coral Reef Research

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Poore, D.Z.

    2008-01-01

    Coral reefs provide important ecosystem services such as shoreline protection and the support of lucrative industries including fisheries and tourism. Such ecosystem services are being compromised as reefs decline due to coral disease, climate change, overfishing, and pollution. There is a need for focused, integrated science to understand the complex ecological interactions and effects of these many stressors and to provide information that will effectively guide policies and best management practices to preserve and restore these important resources. The U.S. Geological Survey Florida Integrated Science Center (USGS-FISC) is conducting a coordinated Coral Reef Research Project beginning in 2009. Specific research topics are aimed at addressing priorities identified in the ‘Strategic Science for Coral Ecosystems 2007-2011’ document (U.S. Geological Survey, 2007). Planned research will include a blend of historical, monitoring, and process studies aimed at improving our understanding of the development, current status and function, and likely future changes in coral ecosystems. Topics such as habitat characterization and distribution, coral disease, and trends in biogenic calcification are major themes of understanding reef structure, ecological integrity, and responses to global change.

  • Satellite imaging coral reef resilience at regional scale. A case-study from Saudi Arabia.

    PubMed

    Rowlands, Gwilym; Purkis, Sam; Riegl, Bernhard; Metsamaa, Liisa; Bruckner, Andrew; Renaud, Philip

    2012-06-01

    We propose a framework for spatially estimating a proxy for coral reef resilience using remote sensing. Data spanning large areas of coral reef habitat were obtained using the commercial QuickBird satellite, and freely available imagery (NASA, Google Earth). Principles of coral reef ecology, field observation, and remote observations, were combined to devise mapped indices. These capture important and accessible components of coral reef resilience. Indices are divided between factors known to stress corals, and factors incorporating properties of the reef landscape that resist stress or promote coral growth. The first-basis for a remote sensed resilience index (RSRI), an estimate of expected reef resilience, is proposed. Developed for the Red Sea, the framework of our analysis is flexible and with minimal adaptation, could be extended to other reef regions. We aim to stimulate discussion as to use of remote sensing to do more than simply deliver habitat maps of coral reefs. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  • Climate-change refugia: shading reef corals by turbidity.

    PubMed

    Cacciapaglia, Chris; van Woesik, Robert

    2016-03-01

    Coral reefs have recently experienced an unprecedented decline as the world’s oceans continue to warm. Yet global climate models reveal a heterogeneously warming ocean, which has initiated a search for refuges, where corals may survive in the near future. We hypothesized that some turbid nearshore environments may act as climate-change refuges, shading corals from the harmful interaction between high sea-surface temperatures and high irradiance. We took a hierarchical Bayesian approach to determine the expected distribution of 12 coral species in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, between the latitudes 37°N and 37°S, under representative concentration pathway 8.5 (W m(-2) ) by 2100. The turbid nearshore refuges identified in this study were located between latitudes 20-30°N and 15-25°S, where there was a strong coupling between turbidity and tidal fluctuations. Our model predicts that turbidity will mitigate high temperature bleaching for 9% of shallow reef habitat (to 30 m depth) – habitat that was previously considered inhospitable under ocean warming. Our model also predicted that turbidity will protect some coral species more than others from climate-change-associated thermal stress. We also identified locations where consistently high turbidity will likely reduce irradiance to reef-coral habitat ≤30 m will preclude coral growth and reef development. Thus, protecting the turbid nearshore refuges identified in this study, particularly in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the northern Philippines, the Ryukyu Islands (Japan), eastern Vietnam, western and eastern Australia, New Caledonia, the northern Red Sea, and the Arabian Gulf, should become part of a judicious global strategy for reef-coral persistence under climate change. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  • Transplantation of storm-generated coral fragments to enhance Caribbean coral reefs: A successful method but not a solution

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Garrison, Virginia H.; Ward, Greg A.

    2012-01-01

    In response to dramatic losses of reef-building corals and ongoing lack of recovery, a small-scale coral transplant project was initiated in the Caribbean (U.S. Virgin Islands) in 1999 and was followed for 12 years. The primary objectives were to (1) identify a source of coral colonies for transplantation that would not result in damage to reefs, (2) test the feasibility of transplanting storm-generated coral fragments, and (3) develop a simple, inexpensive method for transplanting fragments that could be conducted by the local community.  The ultimate goal was to enhance abundance of threatened reef-building species on local reefs.  Storm-produced coral fragments of two threatened reef-building species [Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis (Acroporidae)] and another fast-growing species [Porites porites (Poritidae)] were collected from environments hostile to coral fragment survival and transplanted to degraded reefs.  Inert nylon cable ties were used to attach transplanted coral fragments to dead coral substrate.  Survival of 75 reference colonies and 60 transplants was assessed over 12 years. Only 9% of colonies were alive after 12 years: no A. cervicornis; 3% of A. palmata transplants and 18% of reference colonies; and 13% of P. porites transplants and 7% of reference colonies. Mortality rates for all species were high and were similar for transplant and reference colonies. Physical dislodgement resulted in the loss of 56% of colonies, whereas 35% died in place.  Only A. palmata showed a difference between transplant and reference colony survival and that was in the first year only.  Location was a factor in survival only for A. palmata reference colonies and after year 10.  Even though the tested methods and concepts were proven effective in the field over the 12-year study, they do not present a solution. No coral conservation strategy will be effective until underlying intrinsic and/or extrinsic factors driving high mortality rates are

  • Chemically mediated behavior of recruiting corals and fishes: A tipping point that may limit reef recovery

    PubMed Central

    Dixson, Danielle L; Abrego, David; Hay, Mark E

    2015-01-01

    Coral reefs are in global decline, converting from dominance by coral to dominance by seaweed. Once seaweeds become abundant, coral recovery is suppressed unless herbivores return to remove seaweeds, and corals then recruit. Variance in the recovery of fishes and corals is not well understood. We show that juveniles of both corals and fishes are repelled by chemical cues from fished, seaweed-dominated reefs but attracted to cues from coral-dominated areas where fishing is prohibited. Chemical cues of specific seaweeds from degraded reefs repulsed recruits, and cues from specific corals that are typical of healthy reefs attracted recruits. Juveniles were present at but behaviorally avoided recruiting to degraded reefs dominated by seaweeds. For recovery, degraded reefs may need to be managed to produce cues that attract, rather than repel, recruiting corals and fishes. PMID:25146281

  • Impact of oil spills on coral reefs can be reduced by bioremediation using probiotic microbiota

    PubMed Central

    Fragoso ados Santos, Henrique; Duarte, Gustavo Adolpho Santos; Rachid, Caio TavoraCoelho da Costa; Chaloub, Ricardo Moreira; Calderon, Emiliano Nicolas; Marangoni, Laura Fernandes de Barros; Bianchini, Adalto; Nudi, Adriana Haddad; do Carmo, Flávia Lima; van Elsas, Jan Dirk; Rosado, Alexandre Soares; Castro, Clovis Barreira e; Peixoto, Raquel Silva

    2015-01-01

    Several anthropogenic factors, including contamination by oil spills, constitute a threat to coral reef health. Current methodologies to remediate polluted marine environments are based on the use of chemical dispersants; however, these can be toxic to the coral holobiont. In this study, a probiotic bacterial consortium was produced from the coral Mussismilia harttii and was trained to degrade water-soluble oil fractions (WSFs). Additionally, we assessed the effect of WSFs on the health of M. harttii in tanks and evaluated the bacterial consortium as a bioremediation agent. The consortium was responsible for the highly efficient degradation of petroleum hydrocarbons, and it minimised the effects of WSFs on coral health, as indicated by raised photosynthetic efficiencies. Moreover, the impact of WSFs on the coral microbiome was diminished by the introduced bacterial consortium. Following introduction, the bacterial consortium thus had a dual function, i.e promoting oil WSF degradation and improving coral health with its probiotic features. PMID:26658023

  • Impact of oil spills on coral reefs can be reduced by bioremediation using probiotic microbiota.

    PubMed

    Fragoso Ados Santos, Henrique; Duarte, Gustavo Adolpho Santos; Rachid, Caio TavoraCoelho da Costa; Chaloub, Ricardo Moreira; Calderon, Emiliano Nicolas; Marangoni, Laura Fernandes de Barros; Bianchini, Adalto; Nudi, Adriana Haddad; do Carmo, Flávia Lima; van Elsas, Jan Dirk; Rosado, Alexandre Soares; Castro, Clovis Barreira E; Peixoto, Raquel Silva

    2015-12-14

    Several anthropogenic factors, including contamination by oil spills, constitute a threat to coral reef health. Current methodologies to remediate polluted marine environments are based on the use of chemical dispersants; however, these can be toxic to the coral holobiont. In this study, a probiotic bacterial consortium was produced from the coral Mussismilia harttii and was trained to degrade water-soluble oil fractions (WSFs). Additionally, we assessed the effect of WSFs on the health of M. harttii in tanks and evaluated the bacterial consortium as a bioremediation agent. The consortium was responsible for the highly efficient degradation of petroleum hydrocarbons, and it minimised the effects of WSFs on coral health, as indicated by raised photosynthetic efficiencies. Moreover, the impact of WSFs on the coral microbiome was diminished by the introduced bacterial consortium. Following introduction, the bacterial consortium thus had a dual function, i.e promoting oil WSF degradation and improving coral health with its probiotic features.

  • Diet and Diversification in the Evolution of Coral Reef Fishes

    PubMed Central

    Lobato, Fabio L.; Barneche, Diego R.; Siqueira, Alexandre C.; Liedke, Ana M. R.; Lindner, Alberto; Pie, Marcio R.; Bellwood, David R.; Floeter, Sergio R.

    2014-01-01

    The disparity in species richness among evolutionary lineages is one of the oldest and most intriguing issues in evolutionary biology. Although geographical factors have been traditionally thought to promote speciation, recent studies have underscored the importance of ecological interactions as one of the main drivers of diversification. Here, we test if differences in species richness of closely related lineages match predictions based on the concept of density-dependent diversification. As radiation progresses, ecological niche-space would become increasingly saturated, resulting in fewer opportunities for speciation. To assess this hypothesis, we tested whether reef fish niche shifts toward usage of low-quality food resources (i.e. relatively low energy/protein per unit mass), such as algae, detritus, sponges and corals are accompanied by rapid net diversification. Using available molecular information, we reconstructed phylogenies of four major reef fish clades (Acanthuroidei, Chaetodontidae, Labridae and Pomacentridae) to estimate the timing of radiations of their subclades. We found that the evolution of species-rich clades was associated with a switch to low quality food in three of the four clades analyzed, which is consistent with a density-dependent model of diversification. We suggest that ecological opportunity may play an important role in understanding the diversification of reef-fish lineages. PMID:25029229

  • Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification.

    PubMed

    Hoegh-Guldberg, O; Mumby, P J; Hooten, A J; Steneck, R S; Greenfield, P; Gomez, E; Harvell, C D; Sale, P F; Edwards, A J; Caldeira, K; Knowlton, N; Eakin, C M; Iglesias-Prieto, R; Muthiga, N; Bradbury, R H; Dubi, A; Hatziolos, M E

    2007-12-14

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is expected to exceed 500 parts per million and global temperatures to rise by at least 2 degrees C by 2050 to 2100, values that significantly exceed those of at least the past 420,000 years during which most extant marine organisms evolved. Under conditions expected in the 21st century, global warming and ocean acidification will compromise carbonate accretion, with corals becoming increasingly rare on reef systems. The result will be less diverse reef communities and carbonate reef structures that fail to be maintained. Climate change also exacerbates local stresses from declining water quality and overexploitation of key species, driving reefs increasingly toward the tipping point for functional collapse. This review presents future scenarios for coral reefs that predict increasingly serious consequences for reef-associated fisheries, tourism, coastal protection, and people. As the International Year of the Reef 2008 begins, scaled-up management intervention and decisive action on global emissions are required if the loss of coral-dominated ecosystems is to be avoided.

  • Non-Random Variability in Functional Composition of Coral Reef Fish Communities along an Environmental Gradient.

    PubMed

    Plass-Johnson, Jeremiah G; Taylor, Marc H; Husain, Aidah A A; Teichberg, Mirta C; Ferse, Sebastian C A

    2016-01-01

    Changes in the coral reef complex can affect predator-prey relationships, resource availability and niche utilisation in the associated fish community, which may be reflected in decreased stability of the functional traits present in a community. This is because particular traits may be favoured by a changing environment, or by habitat degradation. Furthermore, other traits can be selected against because degradation can relax the association between fishes and benthic habitat. We characterised six important ecological traits for fish species occurring at seven sites across a disturbed coral reef archipelago in Indonesia, where reefs have been exposed to eutrophication and destructive fishing practices for decades. Functional diversity was assessed using two complementary indices (FRic and RaoQ) and correlated to important environmental factors (live coral cover and rugosity, representing local reef health, and distance from shore, representing a cross-shelf environmental gradient). Indices were examined for both a change in their mean, as well as temporal (short-term; hours) and spatial (cross-shelf) variability, to assess whether fish-habitat association became relaxed along with habitat degradation. Furthermore, variability in individual traits was examined to identify the traits that are most affected by habitat change. Increases in the general reef health indicators, live coral cover and rugosity (correlated with distance from the mainland), were associated with decreases in the variability of functional diversity and with community-level changes in the abundance of several traits (notably home range size, maximum length, microalgae, detritus and small invertebrate feeding and reproductive turnover). A decrease in coral cover increased variability of RaoQ while rugosity and distance both inversely affected variability of FRic; however, averages for these indices did not reveal patterns associated with the environment. These results suggest that increased

  • Non-Random Variability in Functional Composition of Coral Reef Fish Communities along an Environmental Gradient

    PubMed Central

    Plass-Johnson, Jeremiah G.; Taylor, Marc H.; Husain, Aidah A. A.; Teichberg, Mirta C.; Ferse, Sebastian C. A.

    2016-01-01

    Changes in the coral reef complex can affect predator-prey relationships, resource availability and niche utilisation in the associated fish community, which may be reflected in decreased stability of the functional traits present in a community. This is because particular traits may be favoured by a changing environment, or by habitat degradation. Furthermore, other traits can be selected against because degradation can relax the association between fishes and benthic habitat. We characterised six important ecological traits for fish species occurring at seven sites across a disturbed coral reef archipelago in Indonesia, where reefs have been exposed to eutrophication and destructive fishing practices for decades. Functional diversity was assessed using two complementary indices (FRic and RaoQ) and correlated to important environmental factors (live coral cover and rugosity, representing local reef health, and distance from shore, representing a cross-shelf environmental gradient). Indices were examined for both a change in their mean, as well as temporal (short-term; hours) and spatial (cross-shelf) variability, to assess whether fish-habitat association became relaxed along with habitat degradation. Furthermore, variability in individual traits was examined to identify the traits that are most affected by habitat change. Increases in the general reef health indicators, live coral cover and rugosity (correlated with distance from the mainland), were associated with decreases in the variability of functional diversity and with community-level changes in the abundance of several traits (notably home range size, maximum length, microalgae, detritus and small invertebrate feeding and reproductive turnover). A decrease in coral cover increased variability of RaoQ while rugosity and distance both inversely affected variability of FRic; however, averages for these indices did not reveal patterns associated with the environment. These results suggest that increased

  • Linking Demographic Processes of Juvenile Corals to Benthic Recovery Trajectories in Two Common Reef Habitats

    PubMed Central

    Doropoulos, Christopher; Ward, Selina; Roff, George; González-Rivero, Manuel; Mumby, Peter J.

    2015-01-01

    Tropical reefs are dynamic ecosystems that host diverse coral assemblages with different life-history strategies. Here, we quantified how juvenile (coral demographics influenced benthic coral structure in reef flat and reef slope habitats on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Permanent plots and settlement tiles were monitored every six months for three years in each habitat. These environments exhibited profound differences: the reef slope was characterised by 95% less macroalgal cover, and twice the amount of available settlement substrata and rates of coral settlement than the reef flat. Consequently, post-settlement coral survival in the reef slope was substantially higher than that of the reef flat, and resulted in a rapid increase in coral cover from 7 to 31% in 2.5 years. In contrast, coral cover on the reef flat remained low (~10%), whereas macroalgal cover increased from 23 to 45%. A positive stock-recruitment relationship was found in brooding corals in both habitats; however, brooding corals were not directly responsible for the observed changes in coral cover. Rather, the rapid increase on the reef slope resulted from high abundances of broadcast spawning Acropora recruits. Incorporating our results into transition matrix models demonstrated that most corals escape mortality once they exceed 50 mm, but for smaller corals mortality in brooders was double those of spawners (i.e. acroporids and massive corals). For corals on the reef flat, sensitivity analysis demonstrated that growth and mortality of larger juveniles (21–50 mm) highly influenced population dynamics; whereas the recruitment, growth and mortality of smaller corals (reef slope population dynamics. Our results provide insight into the population dynamics and recovery trajectories in disparate reef habitats, and highlight the importance of acroporid recruitment in driving rapid increases in coral cover following large-scale perturbation

  • Linking demographic processes of juvenile corals to benthic recovery trajectories in two common reef habitats.

    PubMed

    Doropoulos, Christopher; Ward, Selina; Roff, George; González-Rivero, Manuel; Mumby, Peter J

    2015-01-01

    Tropical reefs are dynamic ecosystems that host diverse coral assemblages with different life-history strategies. Here, we quantified how juvenile (coral demographics influenced benthic coral structure in reef flat and reef slope habitats on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Permanent plots and settlement tiles were monitored every six months for three years in each habitat. These environments exhibited profound differences: the reef slope was characterised by 95% less macroalgal cover, and twice the amount of available settlement substrata and rates of coral settlement than the reef flat. Consequently, post-settlement coral survival in the reef slope was substantially higher than that of the reef flat, and resulted in a rapid increase in coral cover from 7 to 31% in 2.5 years. In contrast, coral cover on the reef flat remained low (~10%), whereas macroalgal cover increased from 23 to 45%. A positive stock-recruitment relationship was found in brooding corals in both habitats; however, brooding corals were not directly responsible for the observed changes in coral cover. Rather, the rapid increase on the reef slope resulted from high abundances of broadcast spawning Acropora recruits. Incorporating our results into transition matrix models demonstrated that most corals escape mortality once they exceed 50 mm, but for smaller corals mortality in brooders was double those of spawners (i.e. acroporids and massive corals). For corals on the reef flat, sensitivity analysis demonstrated that growth and mortality of larger juveniles (21-50 mm) highly influenced population dynamics; whereas the recruitment, growth and mortality of smaller corals (reef slope population dynamics. Our results provide insight into the population dynamics and recovery trajectories in disparate reef habitats, and highlight the importance of acroporid recruitment in driving rapid increases in coral cover following large-scale perturbation in

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