Variation in the size structure of corals is related to environmental extremes in the Persian Gulf

Bauman, Andrew G., Pratchett, Morgan S., Baird, Andrew H., Riegl, Bernhard, Heron, Scott F., and Feary, David A. (2013) Variation in the size structure of corals is related to environmental extremes in the Persian Gulf. Marine Environmental Research, 84. pp. 43-50.

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The size structure of coral populations is the culmination of key demographic events, including recruitment, mortality and growth, thereby providing important insights to recent ecological dynamics. Importantly, the size structure of corals reflects both intrinsic (inherent life-history characteristics) and extrinsic (enhanced mortality due to chronic or acute disturbances) forcing on local populations, enabling post-hoc assessment of spatial and taxonomic differences in susceptibility to disturbance. This study examined the size structure of four locally abundant corals (Acropora downingi, Favia pallida, Platygyra daedalea, and massive Porites spp.) in two regions of the Persian Gulf: the southern Gulf (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and eastern Gulf (western Musandam). Significant and consistent differences were apparent in mean colony sizes and size-distributions between regions. All corals in the southern Gulf were significantly smaller, and their size structure positively skewed and relatively more leptokurtic (i.e., peaky) compared to corals in the eastern Gulf. Sea surface temperatures, salinity, and the recent frequency of mass bleaching are all higher, in the southern Gulf, suggesting higher mortality rates and/or slower growth in these populations. Differences in size structure between locations were more pronounced than differences between species at each location, suggesting that extreme differences in environmental conditions and disturbance events have a greater influence on population dynamics in the Gulf than inherent differences in their life-history characteristics.

Item ID: 26787
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-0291
Keywords: coral reefs, Arabian Gulf, coral bleaching, climate change, disturbance, effects-population
Funders: James Cook University
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2013 11:12
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 70%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 30%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 70%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960399 Climate and Climate Change not elsewhere classified @ 30%
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