Spatial patchiness in change, recruitment, and recovery on coral reefs at Lizard Island following consecutive bleaching events

Tebbett, Sterling B., Morais, Juliano, and Bellwood, David R. (2022) Spatial patchiness in change, recruitment, and recovery on coral reefs at Lizard Island following consecutive bleaching events. Marine Environmental Research, 173. 105537.

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Abstract

The world’s coral reef ecosystems are steadily being reconfigured by climate change. Lizard Island, on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, offers an opportunity to examine coral reef reassembly following disturbance, as this location has been impacted by consecutive tropical cyclones and consecutive coral bleaching events. Based on repeatedly monitoring the same 349 photoquadrats around Lizard Island over a 5-year period (2016-2021) we revealed that bleaching in 2016 drove a ~50% reduction in hard coral cover, and a concomitant increase in algal turf cover. From 2018 to 2021, significant increases (>600%) in coral cover were detected on two semi-exposed reefs and were associated with substantial Acropora recruitment. By contrast, fourteen lagoonal and back reefs exhibited virtually no recovery nor Acropora recruitment. Given that the timeframe between disturbances is set to decrease, our results suggest that some recovery is possible immediately after severe cumulative disturbances, although this recovery may be highly spatially heterogenous.

Item ID: 71225
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-0291
Keywords: Acropora; Algal turf; Coral bleaching; Coral community; Coral recovery; Coral regeneration; Ecosystem function; Recruitment; Reassembly; Resilience
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Copyright Information: © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Supplementary data to this article can be found online at: https://doi. org/10.1016/j.marenvres.2021.105537

Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC CE140100020, ARC FL190100062
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2022 04:23
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1905 Understanding climate change > 190504 Effects of climate change on Australia (excl. social impacts) @ 100%
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