Reef-scale failure of coral settlement following typhoon disturbance and macroalgal bloom in Palau, Western Pacific

Doropoulos, Christopher, Roff, George, Zupan, Mirta, Nestor, Victor, Isechal, Adelle L. and Mumby, Peter J. (2014) Reef-scale failure of coral settlement following typhoon disturbance and macroalgal bloom in Palau, Western Pacific. Coral Reefs, 33 3: 613-623. doi:10.1007/s00338-014-1149-y

Author Doropoulos, Christopher
Roff, George
Zupan, Mirta
Nestor, Victor
Isechal, Adelle L.
Mumby, Peter J.
Title Reef-scale failure of coral settlement following typhoon disturbance and macroalgal bloom in Palau, Western Pacific
Journal name Coral Reefs   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0722-4028
Publication date 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00338-014-1149-y
Open Access Status
Volume 33
Issue 3
Start page 613
End page 623
Total pages 11
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer Verlag
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Abstract Factors affecting coral recruitment are critical in influencing the scope and rate of reef recovery after disturbance. In December 2012, super-typhoon Bopha caused immense damage to the eastern reefs of Palau, resulting in near complete loss of coral cover. Within weeks following the typhoon, an ephemeral monospecific bloom of the foliose red macroalga Liagora (up to 40 % cover in February 2013) was recorded at impacted reefs with moderate wave exposure. Conversely, impacted and un-impacted reefs in areas of low wave exposure remained Liagora free. To quantify the effect of this ephemeral macroalgal bloom on coral recruitment, we installed settlement tiles during the major spawning period (March-April 2013) at forereefs with and without Liagora. Reefs (n = 3) with Liagora (13-24 % cover in April) experienced an almost complete failure of settlement, with only two individual corals recorded on settlement tiles (n = 90). This settlement failure was unexpected, as tiles were situated adjacent to, and not within Liagora canopies. In contrast, settlement was significantly higher on reefs that lacked macroalgae (n = 3), ranging from an average of 0.5-2.5 and 2.7-18.9 individuals 25 cm-2 per top- and under-sided tile, respectively. Reefs with and without Liagora were in close proximity (≤8 km), and hydrodynamic models predicted that larval supply did not limit coral settlement among sites. While some differences in the community composition on the tiles were observed among sites, settlement substrate availability also did not limit coral settlement. Generalised linear mixed effects models indicated that while no settlement substrate explained more than 10 % of the variability in coral settlement, coral cover positively accounted for 26 %, and the cover of Liagora on reefs negatively accounted for more than 50 % of the observed variation. Combined, our results indicate that the typhoon induced ephemeral macroalgal bloom resulted in a reef-scale failure of coral settlement.
Keyword Allelopathy
Phase shift
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
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