A 30-year study of coral abundance, recruitment, and disturbance at several scales in space and time

Connell, Joseph H., Hughes, Terence P., and Wallace, Carden C. (1997) A 30-year study of coral abundance, recruitment, and disturbance at several scales in space and time. Ecological Monographs, 67 (4). pp. 461-488.

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Abstract

Observations over a 30-yr period revealed a considerable degree of natural variation in the abundance of corals on Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia. Cover ranged from <0.1% to >80%, with a similar large range in colony density, at several temporal and spatial scales. Much of this variation was due to the type, intensity, and spatial scale of disturbances that occurred. Coral assemblages usually recovered from acute disturbances, both on Heron Island and on other Indo-Pacific reefs. In contrast, corals did not recover from chronic disturbances of either natural or human origins, or from gradual declines. Recovery was slower after acute disturbances that altered the physical environment than after disturbances that simply killed or damaged corals. The space and time scales of declines and recoveries in abundance were much smaller on the wave-exposed side of the reef than on the side protected from storms. Recruitment rates were reduced by preemption of space by corals or macroalgae, and by storms that altered the substratum. Thus, the dynamics of abundance in this coral community can be largely understood through the variation in types and scales of disturbances that occurred, and the processes that took place where disturbances were rare.

Item ID: 26599
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: algae; community dynamics; coral reef; corals; damage from cyclones/hurricanes; disturbance; gradual environmental changes; mortality; recruitment; scale, space and time states virgin-islands; great-barrier-reef; community structure; red-sea; scleractinian corals; population-dynamics; natural communities; diadema-antillarum; mass mortality; life histories
ISSN: 1557-7015
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2013 05:00
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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