Is coral richness related to community resistance to and recovery from disturbance?

Zhang, Stacy Y., Speare, Kelly E., Long, Zachary T., McKeever, Kimberly A., Gyoerkoe, Megan, Ramus, Aaron P., Mohorn, Zach, Akins, Kelsey L., Hambridge, Sarah M., Graham, Nicholas A.J., Nash, Kirsty L., Selig, Elizabeth R., and Bruno, John F. (2014) Is coral richness related to community resistance to and recovery from disturbance? PeerJ, 2. e308. pp. 1-12.

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Abstract

More diverse communities are thought to be more stable-the diversity-stability hypothesis-due to increased resistance to and recovery from disturbances. For example, high diversity can make the presence of resilient or fast growing species and key facilitations among species more likely. How natural, geographic biodiversity patterns and changes in biodiversity due to human activities mediate community-level disturbance dynamics is largely unknown, especially in diverse systems. For example, few studies have explored the role of diversity in tropical marine communities, especially at large scales. We tested the diversity-stability hypothesis by asking whether coral richness is related to resistance to and recovery from disturbances including storms, predator outbreaks, and coral bleaching on tropical coral reefs. We synthesized the results of 41 field studies conducted on 82 reefs, documenting changes in coral cover due to disturbance, across a global gradient of coral richness. Our results indicate that coral reefs in more species-rich regions were marginally less resistant to disturbance and did not recover more quickly. Coral community resistance was also highly dependent on pre-disturbance coral cover, probably due in part to the sensitivity of fast-growing and often dominant plating acroporid corals to disturbance. Our results suggest that coral communities in biodiverse regions, such as the western Pacific, may not be more resistant and resilient to natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Further analyses controlling for disturbance intensity and other drivers of coral loss and recovery could improve our understanding of the influence of diversity on community stability in coral reef ecosystems.

Item ID: 37466
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2167-8359
Keywords: biodiveristy, resilience, stability, coral reef, disturbance, recovery, resistance, community ecology
Additional Information:

© 2014 Zhang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funders: National Science Foundation (NSF), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Queensland Smart Futures Fund
Projects and Grants: NSF #1018291, NSF #1017458
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2015 07:33
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 25%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 25%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 90%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 10%
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