Rapid recovery of a coral dominated Eastern Tropical Pacific reef after experimentally produced anthropogenic disturbance

Rapid recovery of a coral dominated Eastern Tropical Pacific reef after experimentally produced... Local anthropogenic stressors such as overfishing, nutrient enrichment and increased sediment loading have been shown to push coral reefs toward greater dominance by algae. In a few cases this shift has been temporary, with the ability to recover to a healthy coral-dominated community after disturbance, suggesting some systems have considerable resilience. However, an understanding of the circumstances under which reefs may recover is only beginning to emerge. We monitored recovery of a coral-dominated reef in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) after cessation of a ∼6 month multiple stressor experiment (with herbivore exclosure, nutrient addition, and sediment addition). We observed substantial recovery from small-scale disturbances, though there were differences in both the extent and temporal dynamics of recovery between treatments. Plots that had been caged showed the largest recovery in absolute terms and recovery was quite rapid, while nutrient and sediment addition plots were slower to recover. We also observed different recovery patterns depending on the type of algae that replaced coral during or after disturbances. Macroalgae that established during manipulation were almost completely removed within 2 weeks, revealing that a significant proportion had covered still-living coral. Turf algae persisted longer, but were almost completely replaced by regenerating coral within 18 months. Very little crustose coralline algae were apparent during manipulations, but coverage did increase during recovery. This rapid recovery of corals after simulated anthropogenic disturbance to ETP reefs underscores the value of management of local stressors for short-term recovery and perhaps as a buffer for longer-term global stressors. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Marine Environmental Research Elsevier

Rapid recovery of a coral dominated Eastern Tropical Pacific reef after experimentally produced anthropogenic disturbance

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Publisher
Elsevier
Copyright
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd
ISSN
0141-1136
eISSN
1879-0291
D.O.I.
10.1016/j.marenvres.2018.05.008
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Local anthropogenic stressors such as overfishing, nutrient enrichment and increased sediment loading have been shown to push coral reefs toward greater dominance by algae. In a few cases this shift has been temporary, with the ability to recover to a healthy coral-dominated community after disturbance, suggesting some systems have considerable resilience. However, an understanding of the circumstances under which reefs may recover is only beginning to emerge. We monitored recovery of a coral-dominated reef in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) after cessation of a ∼6 month multiple stressor experiment (with herbivore exclosure, nutrient addition, and sediment addition). We observed substantial recovery from small-scale disturbances, though there were differences in both the extent and temporal dynamics of recovery between treatments. Plots that had been caged showed the largest recovery in absolute terms and recovery was quite rapid, while nutrient and sediment addition plots were slower to recover. We also observed different recovery patterns depending on the type of algae that replaced coral during or after disturbances. Macroalgae that established during manipulation were almost completely removed within 2 weeks, revealing that a significant proportion had covered still-living coral. Turf algae persisted longer, but were almost completely replaced by regenerating coral within 18 months. Very little crustose coralline algae were apparent during manipulations, but coverage did increase during recovery. This rapid recovery of corals after simulated anthropogenic disturbance to ETP reefs underscores the value of management of local stressors for short-term recovery and perhaps as a buffer for longer-term global stressors.

Journal

Marine Environmental ResearchElsevier

Published: Aug 1, 2018

References

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