Effects of benthic algae on the replenishment of corals and the implications for the resilience of coral reefs

Birrell, Chico L., McCook, Laurence J., Willis, Bette L., and Diaz-Pulido, Guillermo A. (2008) Effects of benthic algae on the replenishment of corals and the implications for the resilience of coral reefs. Oceanography and Marine Biology: an annual review, 46. pp. 25-63.

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Abstract

The ecological resilience of coral reefs depends critically on the capacity of coral populations to re-establish in habitats dominated by macroalgae. Coral reefs globally are under rapidly increasing pressure from human activities, especially from climate change, with serious environmental, social and economic consequences, Coral mortality is usually followed by colonisation by benthic algae of various forms, so that algae dominate most degraded and disturbed reefs. The capacity of coral populations to re-establish in this algal-dominated environment will depend on direct and indirect impacts of the algae on the supply of coral larvae from remnant adults, on settlement of coral larvae and on the post-settlement survival and growth of juvenile corals. The effects of benthic algae on coral replenishment vary considerably but the thick mats or large seaweeds typical of degraded reefs have predominantly negative impacts. Some algae, mostly calcareous red algae, may enhance coral settlement on healthy reefs. Algal effects on coral replenishment include reduced fecundity and larval survival, pre-emption of space for settlement, abrasion or overgrowth of recruits, sloughing or dislodgement of recruits settled on crustose algae, and changes to habitat conditions. There is a serious lack of information about these effects, which are likely to cause bottlenecks in coral recovery and significantly reduce the resilience of coral reefs.

Item ID: 6977
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: algae; corals; reef replenishment; reef recovery; OIRS
ISSN: 0078-3218
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2010 03:22
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 72
Downloads: Total: 3
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