Disturbance gradients on inshore and offshore coral reefs caused by a severe tropical cyclone

Fabricius, Katharina E., De'Ath, Glenn, Puotinen, Marji Lee, Done, Terry, Cooper, Timothy F., and Burgess, Scott C. (2008) Disturbance gradients on inshore and offshore coral reefs caused by a severe tropical cyclone. Limnology and Oceanography, 53 (2). pp. 690-704.

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Abstract

Tropical storms (cyclones, hurricanes, or typhoons) are the most severe form of mechanical disturbance of coral reefs. In 2005, severe tropical cyclone Ingrid crossed the far northern Great Barrier Reef, a region that had not been affected by a major disturbance for several decades, and where benthic data had been collected before the cyclone crossed. This storm provided a unique opportunity to improve understanding of the extent and type of damage inflicted on inshore and offshore coral reefs along a gradient of wind speeds. Modeled maximum wind speeds ranged from 46 m s-1 (equivalent to category 4) near the path to 22 m s-1 (category 1) ∼70 km to either side of the path. Surveys of 82 sites on 32 reefs along the wind gradient showed that the types and intensity of disturbance were well explained by local maximum wind speed, and by spatial and biotic factors. While offshore reefs had the deepest depth of damage, inshore reefs had the greatest rates of coral breakage and dislodgement. On a severely affected inshore reef, hard coral cover decreased about 800%, taxonomic richness decreased 250%, the density of coral recruits decreased by 30%, while massive coral cover remained unaltered. Maximum winds <28 m s-1 for <12 h inflicted only minor damage on any reef, but winds >33 m s-1 and >40 m s-1 caused catastrophic damage on inshore and offshore reefs, respectively. Observations from this cyclone were used to predict potential changes in storm-related coral loss under altered cyclone-intensity scenarios.

Item ID: 24321
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
ISSN: 1939-5590
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2012 05:21
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0604 Genetics > 060407 Genome Structure and Regulation @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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