Natural and anthropogenic catastrophes occurred at the end of the previous and in the beginning of the current centuries at the coral reefs of the World Ocean, and their consequences for the tropical shelf ecosystems have been described based on published data and our own investigations. It has been shown that in recent decades coral populations on reefs of tropical and subtropical regions of the World Ocean have been reduced by 80%, and in some areas have completely vanished. The biodiversity of reef ecosystems has been considerably reduced. The main reason for such changes is a 1-2°C increase in the temperature of surface waters in comparison with the monthly mean temperature in the hot season. The fate of the damaged coral reefs is under discussion. It is thought that in clean waters partially damaged coral reefs can recover, whereas in waters polluted as the result of human activity they collapse. The rate of coral reef restoration depends on the hydrological and hydrochemical conditions, frequency of natural calamities and competitive interrelation of algae and corals on the damaged sites of coral reefs. The nature of competitive interrelation between algae and corals is considered, viz., the dynamics of obliteration of damaged and dead coral colonies by various algal species, mechanisms of competitive interrelation, effects of the environment on the competitive ability of corals and algae, the internal and external conditions for victory in competitive activity. It has been suggested that coral reefs can be restored through temporary transformation into a vegetable reef. In the absence of natural calamities damaged reefs can be clearly restored to their original or altered state over several decades, but only in clean waters.
Russian Journal of Marine Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 31, 2008
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