Coral reef annihilation, persistence and recovery at Earth's youngest volcanic island

Smallhorn-West, Patrick, Garvin, J.B., Slayback, D.A., DeCarlo, T.M., Gordon, S.E., Fitzgerald, S.H., Halafihi, T., Jones, G.P., and Bridge, T.C.L. (2020) Coral reef annihilation, persistence and recovery at Earth's youngest volcanic island. Coral Reefs, 39. pp. 529-536.

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The structure and function of coral reef ecosystems is increasingly compromised by multiple stressors, even in the most remote locations. Severe, acute disturbances such as volcanic eruptions represent extreme events that can annihilate entire reef ecosystems, but also provide unique opportunities to examine ecosystem resilience and recovery. Here, we examine the destruction, persistence and initial recovery of reefs associated with the hydro-magmatic eruption that created Earth's newest landmass, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcanic island. Despite extreme conditions associated with the eruption, impacts on nearby reefs were spatially variable. Importantly, even heavily affected reefs showed signs of rapid recovery driven by high recruitment, likely from local refuges. The remote location and corresponding lack of additional stressors likely contribute to the resilience of Hunga's reefs, suggesting that in the absence of chronic anthropogenic stressors, coral reefs can be resilient to one of the largest physical disturbances on Earth.

Item ID: 61278
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: refuge population, ecosystem resilience, coral reef, volcanic eruption, reef recovery
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Copyright Information: © Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019.
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A version of this publication was included as Appendix 2 of the following PhD thesis: Smallhorn-West, Patrick (2020) Assessing the impact of coral reef community management in the Kingdom of Tonga. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: Robert Pressey, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, National Geographic Society
Date Deposited: 25 Dec 2019 07:33
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960604 Environmental Management Systems @ 100%
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