Natural recovery of corals after severe disturbance

Morais, Juliano, Tebbett, Sterling B., Morais Araujo, Renato A., and Bellwood, David R. (2024) Natural recovery of corals after severe disturbance. Ecology Letters, 27 (1). e14332.

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Ecosystem recovery from human-induced disturbances, whether through natural processes or restoration, is occurring worldwide. Yet, recovery dynamics, and their implications for broader ecosystem management, remain unclear. We explored recovery dynamics using coral reefs as a case study. We tracked the fate of 809 individual coral recruits that settled after a severe bleaching event at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. Recruited Acropora corals, first detected in 2020, grew to coral cover levels that were equivalent to global average coral cover within just 2 years. Furthermore, we found that just 11.5 Acropora recruits per square meter were sufficient to reach this cover within 2 years. However, wave exposure, growth form and colony density had a marked effect on recovery rates. Our results underscore the importance of considering natural recovery in management and restoration and highlight how lessons learnt from reef recovery can inform our understanding of recovery dynamics in high-diversity climate-disturbed ecosystems.

Item ID: 80878
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1461-0248
Keywords: Acropora, coral cover recovery, coral growth, coral recruitment, demography: Coral bleaching, Great Barrier Reef
Copyright Information: © 2023 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC FL190100062
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2024 23:52
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180201 Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems @ 100%
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