Changing dynamics of Caribbean reef carbonate budgets: emergence of reef bioeroders as critical controls on present and future reef growth potential

Perry, Chris T., Murphy, Gary N., Kench, Paul S., Edinger, Evan N., Smithers, Scott G., Steneck, Robert S., and Mumby, Peter J. (2014) Changing dynamics of Caribbean reef carbonate budgets: emergence of reef bioeroders as critical controls on present and future reef growth potential. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 281. pp. 1-9.

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Abstract

Coral cover has declined rapidly on Caribbean reefs since the early 1980s, reducing carbonate production and reef growth. Using a cross-regional dataset, we show that widespread reductions in bioerosion rates—a key carbonate cycling process—have accompanied carbonate production declines. Bioerosion by parrotfish, urchins, endolithic sponges and microendoliths collectively averages 2 G (where G = kg CaCO(3) m^−2 yr^−1) (range 0.96–3.67 G). This rate is at least 75% lower than that reported from Caribbean reefs prior to their shift towards their present degraded state. Despite chronic overfishing, parrotfish are the dominant bioeroders, but erosion rates are reduced from averages of approximately 4 to 1.6 G. Urchin erosion rates have declined further and are functionally irrelevant to bioerosion on most reefs. These changes demonstrate a fundamental shift in Caribbean reef carbonate budget dynamics. To-date, reduced bioerosion rates have partially offset carbonate production declines, limiting the extent to which more widespread transitions to negative budget states have occurred. However, given the poor prognosis for coral recovery in the Caribbean and reported shifts to coral community states dominated by slower calcifying taxa, a continued transition from production to bioerosion-controlled budget states, which will increasingly threaten reef growth, is predicted.

Item ID: 36689
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: coral reefs, Caribbean, carbonate budgets, bioerosion, parrotfish, Diadema
ISSN: 1471-2954
Funders: Leverhulme Trust (LT) - UK
Projects and Grants: LT-UK International Research Network Grant F/00426/G
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2014 07:32
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040699 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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