Scleractinian coral communities of the inner Seychelles 10 years after the 1998 mortality event

Harris, Alasdair, Wilson, Shaun, Graham, Nicholas, and Sheppard, Charles (2014) Scleractinian coral communities of the inner Seychelles 10 years after the 1998 mortality event. Aquatic Conservation: marine and freshwater ecosystems , 24 (5). pp. 667-679.

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Abstract

1. The size structure and taxonomic composition of coral communities in the inner (Granitic) Seychelles were studied 10 years after a thermal stress-induced mass mortality event.

2. A survey of the abundance, population size structure and community composition of hard corals across 21 sites from three different geomorphological reef types on the Seychelles Bank provided high resolution data for discriminating coral communities based on diversity, taxonomic composition, colony abundance, surface area and size frequency distributions.

3. Results emphasize the severely impoverished and depauperate nature of inner Seychelles hard coral communities, which had lower generic diversity (40 genera recorded), and lower abundance (3.3 colonies m-2) of hard corals (excluding juveniles) than other coral reef regions of the Indian Ocean for which comparable data are currently available.

4. Analysis of coral communities indicated that management had no appreciable effect on juvenile or adult coral abundance at this point in time, and that low juvenile density (9.9 colonies m-2) may severely limit recovery of many individual reefs in the inner Seychelles.

5. While some sites were found to have appreciable coral cover (>20%), others, including long-standing protected areas with no fishing, are now in an advanced state of erosion and framework collapse with very low juvenile coral replenishment and negligible available hard substratum suitable for coral settlement.

6. Some of these reefs may have passed the threshold of viable recovery, now being in a self-reinforcing, non-coral dominated erosional phase. 7. These findings indicate variable coral community condition, with many sites showing little sign of recovery. If persistence of live hard coral is a management goal, the existing protected areas within the Seychelles Bank may require review to ensure protection of sites with high recovery potential, while a suite of other management tools should be implemented in the remaining areas.

Item ID: 36703
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1099-0755
Keywords: coral bleaching, coral reef ecology, resilience, recruitment, recovery, species dominance
Funders: SFA, Seychelles National Parks Authority, Nature Seychelles, Leverhulme Trust, Blue Ventures, University of Warwick
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2014 07:35
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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